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The orphaned Jane Eyre, brought to the home of her uncle John Reed, has only been tolerated during her stay by Mrs. Reed because of her husband's insistence. On his deathbed, he made his wife promise to care for Jane; however, Mrs. Reed is herself antagonistic to Jane while allowing her spoiled children, John and Georgiana, to berate and abuse her cruelly. In Chapter 2, after Jane is punished for defending herself against John and placed in the red room, Jane ponders her state:
I was a discord in Gateshead Hall; I was like nobody there; I had nothing in harmony with Mrs. Reed or her children, or her chosen vassalage. If they did not love me, in fact, as little did I love them. They were not bound to regard with affection a thing that could not sympathize with one among them; a heterogeneous thing, opposed to them in temperament, in capacity, in propensities; a useless thing, incapable of serving their interest, or adding to their pleasure; a noxious thing cherishing the germs of indignation at their treatment, of contempt of their judgment. I know that had I been a sanguine, brilliant, careless, exacting, handsome, romping child—though equally dependent and friendless—Mrs. Reed would have endured my presence more complacently; her children would have entertained for me more of the cordiality of fellow-feeling; the servants would have been less prone to make me the scape-goat of the nursery.
While poor little Jane blames her lack of beauty as the reason she is not loved, the truth is that she possesses more strength of character than John and Georgiana Reed; moreover, their doting mother recognizes this superiority in the plain, but passionate girl. So, like many weak people, Mrs. Reed removes this child from the household so that Jane, who sets off by contrast the lack of character in her tyrannical son and her arrogantly indifferent daughter will not cast her offspring in a negative light. This act of Mrs. Reed, a woman lacking integrity, who chooses not to honor her husband's dying wish and a mother who fails in her maternal obligations, contains verismilitude and is, indeed, believable to the reader.
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