How and why is Jane continually picked on, made the “scapegoat of the nursery” at Gateshead Hall
- Pages: 9
- Word count: 2139
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In the course of this book, we see how Jane progresses through life. She grows up from being an obnoxious, odious little child to a prim and polite lady, a reincarnation of her dead Mother. After her experiences at Lowood, she is a changed person. We must question the author’s motives in portraying Jane as the repressed child, condemned to a life of misery by her cruel benefactress, send to a school for orphan children run by the tyrannical Brocklehurst, who almost personifies John Reed in his words and actions.
We must wonder was Jane’s punishment rightfully deserved for inflicting such grievous bodily harm on John Reed, or was it a continuation of the suppression of Jane’s rebellious qualities. We must ask was Jane nothing more than a rebel against the establishment, or was she a visionary of things to come in later years. When we get our first glimpse of Jane, we see how the author immediately sets the scene by describing the scenery as “bare and leafless. ” This automatically makes us think of a cold penetrating environment, where such things as love and generosity are non-existent.
Jane tells us that she “was excluded from the privileges intended for contented, happy little children. ” Mrs Reed has excluded her from joining her family group, “until she had heard from Bessie that I had a more childlike disposition. ” When she sits in the window seat, the day is “dreary. ” This pathetic fallacy reflects Jane’s home life with the Reeds. It is here that we can see how the author clearly reflects Jane’s gothic nature. In reading her books, she encounters, “a black horned thing, sitting aloof of a rock.
This once again reinforces her gothic imagination. When we get our first glimpse of Jane’s chief tormentor, she describes him as having “dingy and unwholesome skin and a dim and beaded eye. ” This description shows to us how John’s physical nature reflects his personality. When wondering where Jane has gone, John describes her as a “bad animal. ”
This shows us how the Reeds really regard Jane. John, like his Mother sees Jane as a “benefactor who is not worthy to live here with gentleman’s children. It is interesting to note, that now his Father is dead, John now regards himself as the man of the house, this being reflected in the phrase, “Now I’ll teach you to rummage in my bookshelves, for they are all mine. ” When John stands thrusting his tongue out at her, she describes him as “a disgusting and ugly appearance of one who would presently deal it. ” When John hits her, she totters backwards, “yet I regained my equilibrium and retired a step or two back from his chair. ” John’s main reason for hitting her is one of jealously.
He realises that the book that she had been reading was too advanced for someone of her years, and that he could not understand it himself. John sees how he might be able to defeat Jane physically, but he is no match for her resilience and defiance of his crude methods of tormention. John is also jealous of her intelligence, this being shown when she compares him to “a murderer, a slave driver and the emperors of Rome. ” This further reinforces how Jane views his tyrannical and oppressive rule. After Jane has inflicted a blow on John Bessie and Abbot coming running to “Master John’s” rescue.
It is interesting to note that even the maids refer to him as Master, this showing us how he is high in the social standing at Gateshead Hall. It is after she has inflicted this blow upon John, when we first hear the most commonly used term to describe Jane-passionate. When Mrs Reed comes along to see what all the fuss is about, her response is it’s normal pathetic, feeble self. It is obvious to be seen that see has had very little experience with children herself, her “little darlings” are used to living on a gravy train.
When Jane is forced to the red-room, screaming and kicking, it is interesting to note how the author once again brings in imagery to convey how Jane is seen in the household-“hold her arms, Miss Abbot, she’s like a wild cat. ” When she is told that it was “shocking conduct, to strike a young gentleman, your benefactress son” her reply is one of defiance “Master, how is he my Master? Am I a servant? ” She once again shows her rebellious qualities, which Mrs Reed is trying to crush and replace with artificially. Jane realises that she is much more than a pretty face.
She has discovered an inner quality of rebellious leadership that can lead people like her out of the tendrils of sorrow and anguish into a new light. We could almost state that Jane was like a post war feminist, willing to lead women out of the house and into public work. Mrs Reed realises Jane’s nature and tries to quell it, using such punishments as isolation and depravation of human kindness and love. It is incidents like being locked in the red-room; Jane like a hardened criminal becomes used to the system and can become adapt at avoiding its evil clutches.
When she is ignorantly thrust into the red-room, we can see how the room has heavy religious imagery associated with it. We are told that the bed looked like a “tabernacle,” and the footstool resembled a “pale throne” It is ironic that something a lowly as a footstool should resemble something as powerful as a throne, but this once again shows us how someone as lowly as Jane can rise from “Squalor of rottenness into the old splendour”[taken from the burning of the leaves-by Lawrence Binyon.
It is in this room that we can now see how Jane starts to reflect on the abuse that she has suffered at the hands of the Reeds. She now refers to “John Reed’s violent tyrannies,” “his sisters proud indifferences,” “and all his Mother’s aversion and the servants partiality. ” It can be seen now how Jane has become dejected an[B. D. 1]nd despondent. She has been locked into the red-room and is suffering a refined type of mental torture. Indirectly Mrs Reed is trying to break Jane, both psychologically and mentally.
She has realised the significance of the room to Jane, since it was Mr Reed who decided to foster and care for Jane. Mrs Reed hated her from the day since she move to Gateshead hall, hence her phrase, “that child did nothing but whimper and moan, not like any other child who would scream heartily. ” It is also in this room that Jane reflects on the brutality of John Reed, telling us how he said his Mother was “dark of the skin” and calling her, “old girl. ” It is with heavy irony that Jane notices, “his skin is much the same to hers. ”
We must also realise that when Jane is locked into the room, it is when the first sense of rebellion inside her is opened up. The room has acted like a metaphoric key to open Jane’s lock of indignation at the appalling way in which she is being treated. This is clearly shown in her phrase, “unjust, unjust. ” It is almost black satire that in being punished, instead of suppressing her “passionate” nature, Mrs Reed and Abbott simple encourage it to grow. Like a seed, Abbott and Mrs Reed provide food and light indirectly without knowing they are fostering a rebel itself.
It is within these walls that Jane realises that she is still viewed as an “interloper” into the family and she will never be truly accepted. She has realised that she has been ostracised form the Reed family circle, and will not be able to re-enter. It is also within these walls that Jane supposedly encounters a spirit, a messenger from her dead Uncle in heaven.
She screams and finds that Mrs Reed and her maids coming rushing, presuming that she is ill. Mrs Reed shows no pity and we can see how she still vehemently tries to suppress her-“you shall be liberated on the condition of perfect submission. Jane begs for mercy, relying on her Aunt’s sense of mercy and forgiveness, instead she is thrust roughly back into the room and passes out due to fear. The sheer brutality of this moment is captured is this thrust back into the physiological turmoil which the room inflicts upon Jane. When we next encounter Jane it is in the presence of an apothecary. It is almost with relief that Jane greets him; glad that it is not another gormless disciple of Mrs Reed sent to try and crush her spirit.
We can see her joy at this event; “I felt an inexplicable relief when I knew there was a stranger in the room, an individual not belonging to Gateshead. It is in her further conversations with this fellow, that we see how she bravely and courageously tells him how she was “struck down. ” This shows us how she sticks to her principles and lets the outside world know the horrific suffering that she has to endure at the hands of the Reed’s. It is with heavy irony that when the apothecary recommends that Jane be sent to school, the hapless Jane is jubilant at such a chance to escape the grasp of her tormentors. Since Jane’s encounters in the red-room, we can see from the book that she now has a hardened resilience against the taunts of John and his vanity stricken sisters.
We can see that Mrs Reed has tutored her children to view Jane as a dependant, an outsider on the family circle, and has instructed them to be as malevolent to her as possible. It is interesting to note that John has now mellowed, from his violent physical abuse, he is now content to “thrust his tongue in his cheek whenever he saw me. ” This shows that he is nothing more than a common bully at heart, afraid of Jane since she smite him such a ferocious blow and is hiding behind his metaphorical Mother’s skirt, “I heard him in a blubbering tone commence the tale of how that nasty Jane Eyre had flown at him like a wild cat.
But Mrs Reed still has supreme power in the house, and this is seen no clearer when Jane announces that Mrs Reed’s children are “not fit to associate with me. ” Mrs Reed ran nimbly up the stairs and “crushing me down on the edge of my crib, dared me in an emphatic voice to move from that place. ” It is apparent that Mrs Reed can now not accept that her children are nothing better than thieves, liars and scoundrels. She, like Brocklehurst is afraid to admit to the truth. When Brocklehurst first arrives, we get the impression of a satanic figure, clad entirely in black and standing upright, “like a black pillar.
It is distressing to see that a preacher of the Christian faith is willing to humiliate such a vulnerable and isolated young girl. Brocklehurst metaphorically injures Jane, his vile utterances blows at her resolute character. When Brocklehurst questions her about hell, her reply is to quote Rochester “truly Janeian. ” She states that she “must keep in good health” to avoid falling into the pit of oblivion. This simple witticism sums up to us the true defiant nature of Jane. Mrs Reed is still at pains to keep Jane as far as is humanly possible away from her, to isolate her both physically and mentally.
When Mrs Reed asks, “all her holidays be spent at Lowood,” she has just severed the last tie that connected her to Jane-basic human contact. Before Jane leaves, she inflicts the final blow upon Mrs Reed. It is this questioning of Mrs Reed’s authority that shows up her blundering incompetence. When Jane tells Mrs Reed how she falsely called her deceitful, Mrs Reed suddenly mellows. It seems that Jane’s threat of revealing to everyone at Lowood the extend of the abuse that was inflicted upon her by the Reed’s has struck a nerve with Mrs Reed.
She is afraid that her placing in society circles may decline and she may be rebuked for carrying out such horrendous violations of a child’s rights. When Jane leaves, it is Bessie that shows her out, carries her cases and helps her to the carriage. The figure of Mrs Reed is non-existent in this world of egotistical, vanity stricken women. In conclusion, I state that Jane was a modern day feminist, opposed by the establishment, who were afraid of what she know and how it could harm them. She was truly intelligent, thoughtful and a caring individual, who was hampered by the autocracy of Victorian England, afraid to admit it’s failings.