Four days later, on a January morning, Jane leaves Gateshead. The carriage trip winds through a dreary landscape and lets Jane off at an uninviting, haunted-looking compound—the Lowood school.
The barren winter landscape resembles the lifeless and stern environment that Jane will find at Lowood school.
The Lowood school is a charity school for orphan girls, ranging in age, and all wearing drab rough uniforms. On her first day, Jane witnesses the strictly regimented routine. Teachers order the girls around in formation. Students share beds in long dormitories, and must eat sparse and sometimes inedible meals.
Brontë uses Lowood to satirize the conditions in girls' charity schools (two of her sisters died in such a school). Because it's a charity school, Mrs. Reed didn't pay anything to send Jane to school there.
The school's superintendent, Ms. Maria Temple, intervenes to provide some better food. Ms. Temple also teaches several subjects. Jane respects her for her kindness and knowledge.
Ms. Temple is a mother figure for Jane. She provides love and sustenance (physical and spiritual) that Mrs. Reed never did.
Jane spots a solitary girl reading. The girl is Helen Burns, an orphan herself. Jane is not used to talking to strangers, but she feels an immediate connection to Helen. Jane asks her a lot of questions about the school, the teachers, and Mr. Brocklehurst, which Helen answers carefully and with respect.
Helen is independent and intellectual like Jane. But she is much more restrained and refuses to say anything negative about the people running the school—though she could.
In the afternoon, a bitter teacher history teacher named Miss Scatcherd kicks Helen out of class and makes her stand in the middle of the school room for all to see. Jane cannot understand how Helen can bear the humiliation so quietly.
Helen's experience here parallels the Reeds' mistreatment of Jane, but Helen does not fight the injustice, as Jane passionately did. She endures it.