This brief transitional chapter spans eight years of Jane's life, during which she matures from an angry girl bent on self-survival into a self-reliant young woman seeking to serve others. Bronte incorporates appropriate endings for some of the more significant characters at Lowood School: Mr. Brocklehurst is removed from power at the school, a just punishment for his negligence and cruelty, while the lovely Miss Temple escapes the difficult life of a teacher and becomes a happily-married woman. Bronte also uses this chapter to incorporate certain narrative details that will be important to the overall plot of the novel. The problems of the Reed family, particularly John’s descent into debauchery and vice, foreshadow Mrs. Reed’s final confrontation with Jane, as well as hinting that the Reed family is being punished for their mistreatment of Jane. The mention of Mr. Eyre’s visit to Gateshead also suggests that he will reappear in some form later on, perhaps with a more important role.
The early sequences, in which Jane is sent to Lowood, a harsh boarding school , are derived from the author's own experiences. Helen Burns's death from tuberculosis (referred to as consumption) recalls the deaths of Charlotte Brontë's sisters Elizabeth and Maria, who died of the disease in childhood as a result of the conditions at their school, the Clergy Daughters School at Cowan Bridge , near Tunstall, Lancashire . Mr. Brocklehurst is based on Rev. William Carus Wilson (1791–1859), the Evangelical minister who ran the school. Additionally, John Reed's decline into alcoholism and dissolution recalls the life of Charlotte's brother Branwell, who became an opium and alcohol addict in the years preceding his death. Finally, like Jane, Charlotte became a governess . These facts were revealed to the public in The Life of Charlotte Brontë (1857) by Charlotte's friend and fellow novelist Elizabeth Gaskell .