Chapter summaries 1-15

Chapter 1 

The novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë begins when Jane is ten, living at Gateshead Hall after being taken in by her aunt, Mrs Reed. Jane is reading in the window seat and has drawn the curtains around her for privacy. Mrs Reed’s fourteen-year-old son, John, discovers Jane’s hiding place with the help of his sister, Eliza. John, who usually bullies Jane, tells Jane that she is not allowed to read the books they own, insults her, and attacks her. He throws the book at her hard enough to make her fall and cut her head, and when Jane calls John wicked, he attacks her again, and she fights back. Mrs Reed arrives to break them up and punishes Jane by sending her to the red room. 

Chapter 2

Jane is taken to the red room by Bessie, the children’s nurse, and Miss Abbot, Mrs Reed’s maid. They tell Jane that she should be grateful to Mrs Reed for taking her in and that she should behave because otherwise she would be sent away. They lock her in and leave. 

Jane wonders why she must always suffer and is never liked by anyone at Gateshead. She thinks that if her uncle Reed was still alive, he would have treated her nicely. She remembers that Mr Reed died in the red room nine years before and gets scared thinking she sees his ghost. Her scream makes Mrs Reed punish her with another hour alone in the red room, as she believes Jane is playing a trick to escape her punishment. Locked in the red room again, Jane faints from fear. 

Chapter 3

Jane wakes up in the nursery. Bessie watches over her and tries to be nice to her to lift her spirits. In the following days, however, Jane continues to feel weak and depressed. Mr Lloyd, the apothecary, is called, and Jane tells him she is unhappy at Gateshead. Mr Lloyd asks if she would like to live with other relatives, but Jane says she knows of none. He asks Jane if she would like to go to school instead, and she says she would, so Mr Lloyd agrees to talk to Mrs Reed. 

Chapter 4

Months pass and Mrs Reed does not send Jane to school. Instead, she ignores her and makes Jane eat alone and sleep in a closet. One day in January, a man called Mr Brocklehurst arrives at Gateshead to meet Jane. Mrs Reed reveals that she wants Brocklehurst to take Jane to Lowood school, where teachers could discipline her, as Jane is a disobedient and deceitful child. Brocklehurst says he will let the school know to expect Jane. After he leaves, Jane angrily confronts her aunt and tells her she dislikes her and will tell everyone she ever meets how cruelly Mrs Reed treated her. 

Chapter 5

Jane leaves Gateshead and travels alone to Lowood. She is greeted by two women, one of whom is a teacher, Miss Miller. Jane is taken to eat supper with all the other girls at Lowood and then to the bedroom to sleep.

The next day, Jane and the students study the Bible, are served burnt porridge for breakfast, and then return to their lessons. At lunchtime, Miss Temple, the superintendent of Lowood and the second woman whom Jane had met when she first arrived, teaches the students. She then tells them that because their breakfast was burned, she will order them bread and cheese for lunch. 

Jane asks a girl about her book and what Lowood is like. Later, she sees the same girl being dismissed from class and notices that she does not look embarrassed, only as though she is daydreaming. 

Chapter 6

During Jane’s lessons the next day, she sees Miss Scatcherd criticize and even strike Helen Burns, the girl Jane had spoken to, while Helen does not try to defend herself. Jane later asks Helen if she wishes to leave Lowood since Miss Scatcherd is so cruel to her. Helen replies that Miss Scatcherd is not cruel, she just dislikes Helen’s faults. Helen explains that she acts according to the teachings of the Bible, being kind even to those who treat her badly. Jane does not agree with this, but Helen tells her she hopes Jane will change her mind as she grows up.

Chapter 7

Jane’s first few months at Lowood pass slowly as the girls do not have much to eat and often have to walk long distances to the church in the cold. One day, Brocklehurst visits. He tells Miss Temple she should not indulge the girls with extra food like she did whe...

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