Jane Eyre Chapter 6 Summary

Instructor: Lauren Boivin

Lauren has taught English at the university level and has a master's degree in literature.

This lesson provides an overview of the 6th chapter of Charlotte Bronte's ''Jane Eyre,'' in which we learn more about the girl Jane has befriended and more about life at Lowood Institute.

Day Two: A Cold, Hungry Start

Each day at Lowood seems to be similarly structured, as the second day followed the exact pattern set by Jane's first day there--with the notable exception that THIS morning, the girls' sleeping chamber was so cold that all the water in their washbasins was frozen solid! The cold and the hunger from the day before have carried over, too. The morning's porridge, while not burnt this time, was given in such small portions that Jane 'wished it had been doubled.'


Having never been at school before, Jane struggles to adapt to the structure and rigor of the lessons at Lowood. It seems 'lessons' at this school are comprised almost entirely of rote memorization and subsequent regurgitation of material, so it's hard to blame her for not being terribly interested. As Jane sat sewing under the direction of Miss Smith, the sewing teacher, she was able to observe the lesson of another group.

The formidable history teacher Miss Scatcherd, who was described in the last chapter as 'hasty', leads the lesson Jane observes. The friend she made the day before stands in this lesson, and is addressed as 'Burns' by the teacher. Jane is alarmed to see that Miss Scatcherd heckles her friend mercilessly, sniping at her with criticisms about how she reads, how she stands, how she holds her head, and even how she positions her chin.

After Burns delivers several correct answers, Jane expects to see Miss Scatcherd praise her. Instead, however, Miss Scatcherd cries out at her suddenly, 'You dirty, disagreeable girl! You have never cleaned your nails this morning!' Jane is aghast when her friend does not explain to the teacher that none of them was able to wash this morning, due to the fact that their washbasins were full of ice instead of water that morning. Later, she observes this same friend demurely receiving a dozen lashes on the neck with a bundle of twigs. This spectacle fills Jane with 'unavailing and impotent anger,' but Burns seems only to submit and cooperate.

Alone But Not Lonely

Five o'clock at Lowood is referred to as 'the play-hour.' It seems the girls are allowed to amuse themselves without rigorous restraint in the school room for an hour at that time. The girls group together to talk, laugh, and socialize. Jane finds herself 'without a companion, yet not feeling lonely.'

Jane seems to enjoy this time especially, though she observes that if she had 'lately left a good home and kind parents,' it is likely this portion of the day would have made her quite homesick. Instead, because she has left an unhappy home and unkind relations, she takes some pleasure in the driving snow outside, the warm chaos within, and the absence of abuse and disdain.

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