This post is part of this year’s April Challenge to write a post a day. I’ve chosen to write about my greatest literary passion: Jane Eyre. Today Jane Eyre is going to tell us about her ‘Jobs’ and her ‘Knowledge’ I’ve written about them together, because her knowledge enabled her to work as a teacher.
My name’s Jane Eyre and I’m a writer and a teacher.
I believe that without the knowledge gained at Lowood Institution and my teaching experience, I would never have survived in the harsh world in which I was born, a woman and an orphan.
I spent eight years at Lowood institution, where I was a teacher for the last two years. Although life at Lowood was hard, I am very fortunate to have studied, worked, and lived there for eight years. I learnt fluent French, history, geography, and English grammar. I also learned to play the piano reasonably well and had great skill at drawing. I had great teachers with stores of knowledge, such as Miss Temple, whose guidance helped me to gain invaluable teaching experience and knowledge.
It was a very strict boarding school. In the mornings and afternoons, I taught English, French, Drawing, and Music. In the evenings, I had various duties such as sitting with with the girls during their hour of study and reading prayers before seeing them to bed. Once the girls were in bed, the teachers had supper and when we retired for the night. I usually read by the light of the candlestick, until the socket of the candle dropped, and the wick went out. Once a month, for a few days, if I was lucky and the sky was clear and there was a glowing moon at my window, I would read until my eyelids fell heavily.
When my friend and mentor, Miss Temple, left Lowood to marry and live in a distant land, I became restless. Tired of the suffocating atmosphere of Lowood and eager for horizons, I applied for a job as a governess. I had always conducted myself well, both as teacher and pupil, at Lowood, so the school inspectors signed a testimonial of character and capacity, which enabled me to be employed as governess in a private home.
I worked at Thornfield Hall as governess to an eight–year-old French girl called Adele, from October to June. My salary was 30 pounds a year. One of the reasons I was chosen for the employment was my knowledge of French. Fortunately I had had the advantage of being taught French by a French lady, Madame Pierrot, with whom I conversed as often as I could. My French was almost fluent after seven years of applying myself daily to the language, and Adele respected me at once for this reason.
In the mornings, after breakfast, Adele and I withdrew to the library, the room Mr. Rochester had directed should be used as the schoolroom. Most of the books for adult reading were locked up behind glass doors, except one bookcase left open containing everything that could be needed in the way of elementary works of literature, poetry, biography, travels, a few romances. They were many more than had been available at Lowood. There was also a new and grand cabinet piano, an easel for painting and a pair of globes.
Adele was a docile, though unenthusiastic pupil. She was a little spoilt and it was not easy for her to concentrate, however she was obedient and although she had no special talents, she made reasonable progress. She studied with me until noon, and then she had some free time with her French nurse. She was friendly and loving and I became very fond of her.
When I had to leave Thornfield Hall, after the interruption of my bigamous wedding, I travelled to a distant town to find work.
My kind cousins, Mary, Diana, and St. John Rivers, who did not yet know they were my kin, neither did I, sheltered me from the cold and shared their meagre rations of food with me. As soon as I recovered from my illness and arduous travels, I begged them to find me a job, because I did not want to be dependent on their charity.
‘I will be a dressmaker; I will be a plain-workwoman; I will be a servant, a nurse-girl, if I can be no better,’ I said to them.
St. John was finally able to find me a job as a teacher. There was no girls’ school at Morton, and St. John had hired a cottage with two rooms attached to a schoolroom with the intention of opening one. My salary was thirty pounds a year plus the use of the simply furnished adjacent cottage. The cost would be covered by a lady called, Miss Oliver; the only daughter of the richest man in the parish. She also paid for the education and clothing of an orphan from the workhouse, to be my maid.
It was a small village school attended by poor cottagers’ daughters. I was required to teach them knitting, sewing, reading, writing, and ciphering. They spoke with a broad accent. some of them were unmannered and rough, as well as ignorant; but others are docile.
I took it as my duty and my challenge was to develop these the these students into refined and intelligent children. My efforts were rewarded, and they soon took a pleasure in doing their work well, keeping their persons neat, in learning their tasks regularly,in acquiring quiet and orderly manners. They progressed surprisingly well, and I was able to teach some of them grammar, geography, and history.
After marrying Mr. Rochester and inheriting my uncle’s fortune, I had no need or time to work as a teacher. I had enough to keep me busy at home, my husband, my child, the Estate, and my writing career.
I hope matters will improve for women in the future, but at the moment, teaching is one of the greatest and most honourable professions a woman can undertake. It will allow her to live independently and fulfill her need to be useful in society. Teachers instill knowledge, good habits, and encourage students to develop their talents to their best ability.
I dream of a day when everyone will have access to education and knowledge whatever their job or station in life. Every person should be allowed to grow intellectually and morally through education.