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- by Charlotte Bronte
[Jane Eyre is ten years old. Both her parents are dead. She lives with her aunt, Mrs. Reed, and three cousins, Eliza, John and Georgiana. Bessie is the servant maid.]
Bessie: Miss. Jane, keep out of mischiefs today. Mrs. Reed is in a frightful mood at breakfast this morning.
Jane: Oh, she never takes notice of me anymore. I think she hides in the sitting room if she hears me coming down the stairs.
Bessie: I am speaking of Miss. Georgiana and Eliza. No quarrelling with those two or you will have the whole house in uproar.
Jane: Oh, it’s not me who starts it. I’ll hide myself in the library with Uncle Reed’s book.
[Jane sits on the floor and looks through a picture book. John, Georgiana and Eliza come.]
John: Here she is.
Jane: What do you want?
John: How dare to ask me, what do you want? Come here when I call you.
Eliza: What are you reading now?
Jane: Bewicks’s History of British Birds.
John: Show me.
Eliza: It’s one of father’s books. You know, not one of these books belongs to you.
John: Bring it to me here.
[Jane rises and cautiously goes to John.]
John: You have no business to take our books. You are a dependant. You have no money. Your father left you none. You ought to beg not to live here with gentlemen’s children like us. Go, stand by the door there, out of the way of the mirror and the windows.
[Jane moves a few steps away, John throws the book at her. John runs towards Jane and grasps her hair and shoulder. He hits her with something. One or two drops of blood from her head trickle down her neck. Eliza screams. Bessie and Mrs. Reed come.]
Bessie: Dear! Dear! What fury to fly at Master. John like this!
Mrs. Reed: Frightful child! Take her away in the red room and lock her in there!
Bessie: But, Mrs. Reed…
Mrs. Reed: The red room! Do as I say.
Bessie: Didn’t I say.
Jane: He threw the book at me.
Bessie: Come quickly. What shocking behaviour for a young girl!
[Bessie brings Jane to the red room and leaves her there. Jane collapses to the fl oor and cries. She hears some noise and screams.]
Jane: Bessie! Let me out. Please, let me out. Help me, Bessie. [Mrs. Reed and Bessie appear out in the hall.]
Mrs. Reed: What is the horrible child up to now?
Bessie: Miss. Jane, are you alright?
Jane: Let me out. Please, Bessie.
Bessie: Are you hurt? What is the matter?
Jane: I heard something. Please unlock the door.
Mrs. Reed: Stop this screaming. I will not be taken in by your tricks, Jane. I shall let you out in the morning.
[Jane is left in the room. When she wakes up, Bessie is sitting next to her. Jane is confused.]
Jane: Where…? Bessie…?
Bessie: It’s Bessie, Jane. You have been asleep ever so long. It’s nearly dinner time.
Jane: Am I ill? I feel so ill.
Bessie: Doctor has been and gone. He says, it’s fever.
Jane: Am I going to die?
Bessie: No, child. You will be alright within a week. You fell sick in the red room with crying, I suppose.
Jane: It was not crying, Bessie. I heard some noise. I saw something.
Bessie: Don’t upset yourself again. Now you need to rest.
Jane: It was Uncle Reed.
Bessie: Shhhhh… No more talking. Close your eyes. I will stay with you.
Jane: I shall never forget it. [Jane falls asleep]
Bessie: Poor child. I do believe it.
[After this incident, Mrs. Reed writes a letter to Mr. Brocklehurst who is running a school, Lowood. He visits Gateshead. Jane is sent to Lowood with him.]
[The driver wakes up Jane. She is let off at the gates of Lowood. She meets Miss. Miller and Miss. Temple.]
Miss. Miller: Jane Eyre?
Jane: Yes madam.
Miss. Miller: This way. [They cross the stage where Miss. Temple is waiting.]
[Jane enters a dark stone building. All are quiet. She neither sees or hears any other student.]
Miss. Temple: This child is very young to be sent alone. She had better be put to bed soon. She looks tired. Are you tired?
Jane: A little madam.
Miss. Temple: And hungry too, no doubt. Let her have some supper before she goes to bed, Miss. Miller.[To Jane] Is this the first time you have left your parents to come to school, my little girl?
Jane: My parents are dead.
Miss. Temple: Oh, I see. Can you read and write?
Jane: Yes madam.
Miss. Temple: And sew? Do you sew?
Jane: A little.
Miss. Temple: [Touches her cheeks gently] I hope you shall be a good girl, Jane Eyre.
Jane: Yes madam.
[Miss. Miller and Jane exit. The next day, Miss. Miller and Jane enter a wide long room. There are many girls of age ten to twenty. All are uniformly dressed. The room is noisy.]
Miss. Miller: Silence. [The girls quieten immediately.] Go to the wash. [When the girls get there, they hesitate.] What is the matter? Time to wash.
Girl: Miss. Miller.
Miss. Miller: What is it?
Girl: The water is frozen again.
Miss. Miller: Very well, monitors. Remove the basins.
[Miss. Temple enters.]
Miss Miller: The new girl. Where shall I put her Miss. Temple?
Miss. Temple: Perhaps the fourth form.
Miss. Miller: But she is so little.
Miss. Temple: She can read and write. I think she will do well there.
Miss. Miller: Yes, Miss. Temple.
[Jane is put in form four. After lunch, Miss. Miller asks the girls to go to the garden. Miss. Miller and Miss. Temple exit and Helen enters, sits and reads a book.]
Jane: Is your book interesting?
Helen: I like it. [Hands it to her.] You may look at it.
Jane: [Jane looks at the book.] I think it is too difficult for me. [Returns it.]
Helen: You read one of your age.
Jane My name is Jane Eyre. What is your name?
Helen: Helen Burns.
Jane: Can you tell me, what the writing on the stone over the door means?
What is Lowood Institution?
Helen: This house where you have come to live.
Jane: And why do they call it institution? Is it anyway different from other schools?
Helen: It is partly a charity school. You and I, and all the rest of us are charity children. I suppose you are an orphan. Aren’t either your father or your mother dead?
Jane: Both died before I can remember.
Helen: Well, all the girls here have lost either one or both parents. This is called an institution for educating orphans.
Jane: Are you happy here?
Helen: You ask rather too many questions. I have given you answers enough for the present. Now I want to read. [Jane leaves Helen.]
[Spring has started. Semi-starvation and neglected colds had predisposed most of the students to receive infection. Forty fi ve out of the eighty girls lay ill at one time. Helen is also ill. Jane goes to meet Helen in Miss. Temple’s room.]
Jane: Helen, are you awake?
Helen: [Face is pale but composed.] Why have you come here, Jane? It is past 11 O’ clock.
Jane: I have come to see you Helen. I have heard you are ill and I cannot sleep until I speak to you.
Helen: You have come to bid me good-bye. You are just in time probably.
Jane: Are you going home?
Helen: Yes, to my long home – last home.
Jane: No! No! Helen! But where are you going Helen? Do you know?
Hele: I believe, I have faith. I am going to God. How comfortable I am. The cough has tired me. I feel as if I could sleep.
Jane: Good night, Helen.
Helen: Good night, Jane.
[Helen dies that night. The school improves. Jane spends eight years in the school, six years as pupil and two years as teacher. Jane wants liberty and becomes half desperate. She advertises in ‘The Herald’ for situations. A week later, she has received a letter from Mrs. Fairfax, Thornfield. Jane leaves Lowood and goes to Thornfield.]
Mrs. Fairfa : How do you do, my dear? I am afraid you have had a tedious ride. You must be cold. Come to the fire. Do sit down.
Jane: Thank you madam. Don’t trouble yourself much.
Mrs. Fairfax: Oh, it’s no trouble. You have brought your luggage with you, haven’t you, my dear?
Jane: Yes madam. Shall I have the pleasure of seeing Miss. Fairfax tonight?
Mrs. Fairfax: Miss. Fairfax. Oh, you mean Miss. Adela! Adela is the name of your future pupil.
Jane: Indeed. Then she is not your daughter?
Mrs. Fairfax : No, I have no family. She is Mr. Rochester’s ward. But I will not keep you sitting up late tonight. Come, I will show you your bedroom.
[Jane takes rest and sleeps well at night. She wakes up early in the morning and goes out for a walk.]
Mrs. Fairfax: What? Out already? You are an early riser. How do you like Thornfield?
Jane: I like it very much.
Mrs. Fairfax : Yes. It’s a pretty place.
[Miss. Adela comes running up the lawn followed by her attendant Miss. Varens.]
Mrs. Fairfax: Here she comes. Good morning Miss. Varens. Miss. Varens : Good morning, Mrs. Fairfax.
Mrs. Fairfax: [To Adela]Come and speak to the lady who is going to teach you in future.
Miss. Adela: Good morning, Miss. Jane.
Jane: Good morning. Come here. [Adela crosses to her.]You are beautiful. Tomorrow we will begin our lessons and learning.
Miss. Adela: Our learning?
Jane: Yes. We will take walks through the fields that surround Thornfield and we will learn about nature, animals and the flowers. We will study all we can that isn’t in books and all we can that is. And we will paint.
Miss. Adela: Paint, Miss. Jane?
Jane: Yes, paint. I believe that art is the window of the soul. Do you like to draw, Miss. Adela?
Miss. Adela: Yes Miss. Jane. I do it all the time. I can sing and dance also. Shall I?
Miss. Fairfax: Adela, you have many weeks and many months to entertain Miss. Jane.
Now you go to your room.
Jane : Yes, I will look forward to the entertainment eagerly. [Miss. Varens and Adela leave.]
[Jane starts teaching Adela and leads a new life in Thornfield.]
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In Jane’s childhood, education takes the place of every single one of her emotional and physical needs—food, shelter, family, and friendship. Because Jane initially learns to understand the world in terms of a teacher—student relationship, all her friendships have some master—pupil tinge to them.
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