I chose these two characters because they were two principal characters in the shaping of Jane’s character during her childhood. They represent two opposite influences, one positive in the shape of gentle and kind Helen, and one negative in the shape of horrible Mr.Brocklehurst.
The character of Mr.Brocklehurst was drawn from Charlotte’s recollections of the original founder of the Clergy Daughters School, Cowan Bridge, which she attended at the age of 8 with her elder sisters.
Jane first meets Mr.
Brocklehurst in her aunt’s living room. He is standing by the fireplace on the rug. Jane describes him as a ‘black pillar’ who is large compared to her. The first question he asked her was: (Quote, pg31, line34)
“Her size is small: what is her age?”
This could be because he was so large and tall and she was so small. Showing him tall tells us that he is a powerful figure.
Mr.Brocklehurst keeps asking her questions, and Jane replies to them, but when he gets to the question: (Quote, pg32, line 5)
“Well, Jane Eyre, are you a good child?”
Mrs Reed answers for her. She says to Mr Brocklehurst that the less said on the subject, the better.
Mr. Brocklehurst was appalled at Jane. He then asked her whether she read the bible, and her reply was yes, but when she said no to reading the Psalms, he was very shocked. He then told her about the little boy who would rather read Psalms that eat a ginger nut.
He and her Aunt Reed then started talking about how she misbehaved. When they had finished Mr.Brocklehurst agreed to take Jane into his school. Before he left he gave her a book entitled the ‘Child’s guide’. (Quote, pg35, lines15-18).
“Little girl, here is a book entitled the ‘Child’s Guide;’ read it with prayer, especially that part containing ‘an account of the awfully sudden death of Martha G—–, a naughty child addicted to falsehood and deceit.’”
We can tell that Mr.Brocklehurst is a hypocrite.
Mrs Reed and Jane were then left in the room together. Jane then began to talk to her aunt about how she said that Jane was deceitful. Jane was sure that she wasn’t deceitful and knew that her aunt disliked her, so before she left she told her how much she hated her as an aunt.
When Jane arrives at Lowood, Mr.Brocklehurst shows her to a teacher’s office and tells her to be careful because she’s a nasty, deceitful child. The teacher, called Miss Temple shows her around the school and to her room, but she is not nasty to Jane. This is when Jane befriends her.
Mr.Brocklehurst was a big influence to Jane because, although he was so nasty, he showed Jane what the real world was like, whereas if he had been nice, then Jane would have never met Helen and learned what she did from her. He was also involved in giving her an education. At the time when Charlotte was writing this book, this education helped her in later life become a governess.
In my opinion, Mr.Brocklehurst was a nasty mean-hearted man, but in a way, he did Jane a favour. It could be said that he was nasty but nice in the fact that he gave Jane a education.