Newspaper article about the exploitation of governesses from John Bull


Poor working conditions were typical of many governess posts, as this 1842 newspaper advert from John Bull draws our attention to: the governess requests no wage for her full-time labour. 

How does Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre discuss salary and working conditions?

Aided by the reflective narrative form and sequence of time, Charlotte Brontë subtly engages with the issue of salary. Writing as her adult self on the cusp of the 1820s, reflecting on the early 1800s, Jane remarks on the relative generosity of her governess salary:

Having sought and obtained an audience of the superintendent during the noontide recreation, I told her I had a prospect of getting a new situation where the salary would be double what I now received (for at Lowood I only got £15 per annum). 

In today’s money, £30 is approximately £1000. Later, Rochester discusses raising the salary even further to £50. Despite the comfort such a wage would bring, this same scene is undercut by the revelation that despite having worked for several months, Jane has not yet been paid.

Full title:
Untitled article about governesses
7 January 1843, London
Newspaper / Ephemera
John Bull
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
Cambridge University Library
19th Century British Library UK Periodicals DX1900735949

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