Finally, Jane is on her way to Lowood Institution, a school for charity-children, and she gets a taste of what life is like at school: about eighty girls dressed uniformly, horrible food, and hours of study. On her first day she is able to ask questions of another girl about the school, Miss Temple, the superintendent, the other teachers, and Mr. Brocklehurst, who runs the school for his mother. Later, that young girl was punished and forced to stand in the center of the room showing great composure and strongly impressing Jane.
Jane observes how often Mrs. Scatcherd ridicules that same girl, even as she is fluent in her answers; and when she is flogged, she still receives her punishment with quiet respect. Later, Jane approaches the girl, her name being Helen Burns, and confronts her about her endurance of such mistreatment, to which Helen refers to the Bible: that we are to return good for evil; that Helen also accepts her punishment because she recognizes her faults which need correction; that life is too short to carry her burden of enmity of others; and that she can separate the sinner from the sin, forgiving the first and detesting the other, which she claims gives her hope, although it does not seems so with her head always hung low.
The girls are poorly protected from the winter cold, that they suffer from freezing; and their rations for meals are so scarce that they are always hungry; and in addition, the younger girls are coerced by the older girls into giving up portions of their measly servings to them. One day, Mr. Brocklehurst arrives at the institution, and after he lectures Miss Temple for overindulging the girls, if you call providing bread and cheese after getting burnt porridge such indulgence, when they should practice self-denial, Jane brings attention to herself by dropping her slate, and Mr. Brocklehurst calls her to the front to shame her with this monologue: “…it becomes my duty to warn you, that this girl,…a castaway, not a true member of the flock,…but…an alien. You must…avoid her company...and shut her out of your converse. Teachers…weigh well her words, scrutinize her actions, punish her body to save her soul; if indeed such salvation be possible, for this girl…is a liar.”
Once her punishment is over, Jane falls to the floor in frustration and tears until Helen consoles her; although, again, Helen’s idea of hope in this short life on earth which enables her to endure such mistreatment, puzzles Jane. Finally, Miss Temple invites both Jane and Helen to her apartment, and she allows Jane to discuss details about her life at Gatehead, and since Miss Temple knows Mr. Lloyd, she suggests that she will ask him about what happened in that room that frightened Jane to check its validity. Long story short: he confirms it, and Jane is cleared in front of the girls and teachers of the lie made by Mr. Brocklehurst.
As spring arrives with new life, so does typhus, and many of the girls fall ill, including Helen. One late night, Jane, who is spared of the illness, seeks out Helen in Miss Temple’s apartment to say good bye to her; and there they spend her last moments together, speaking about the things of God, heaven, and death. In the morning, Helen is dead.
Fast-forward eight years, and Jane has completed her studies at the institution and two years as a teacher there; but Miss Temple has married and went away leaving Jane to feel her reason for harmony dissipate; suddenly she desires liberty. She makes out an ad to teach and serve elsewhere, and receives a reply; and on the day she is to leave the institution for her new service, she receives a visit from Bessie, in which she informs Jane that a Mr. Eyre, possibly her uncle, came searching for her some seven years ago and was distressed that she was away at school.