At Gateshead, Jane is a rank outsider. What factors alienate Jane from the rest of the household, even the servants and the other children? How does the reader respond to Jane in consequence of her social isolation?

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As an unloved, unwanted orphan, Jane's very much one of society's outcasts. Things don't get any better when she goes to stay at Gateshead Hall with her aunt and cousins. Jane's aunt—the thoroughly nasty Mrs. Reed—positively hates her guts and makes it abundantly clear from the start that Jane will be kept apart from her cousins. It's as if the poor little girl has some kind of contagious disease. The message is clear: Jane is only at Gateshead on sufferance, and she should never be allowed to forget it.

The main cause of Jane's isolation is simple: she's poor, and the Reeds are rich. The Reeds are also immense snobs and so feel fully entitled to treat Jane like dirt. It's no exaggeration to say that Jane is all alone at Gateshead. Her chronic isolation is manifested in a number of ways. One example is when Jane is sent to the infamous "red room" for misbehaving. This is the cold, lonely place where her uncle died—a place seldom slept in or visited. Then there's the terrible case of Jane's serious illness, where, instead of sending for a doctor like she's supposed to, evil Mrs. Reed sends for an apothecary—an old-fashioned word for a pharmacist—instead. Despite being filthy rich, Mrs. Reed doesn't want to spend any more money than she has to on Jane's medical care. She'll get the same basic treatment as the servants—that is, care that is cheap and not very effective.

The response of the reader to Jane's terrible plight ought to be one of sympathy. Jane's a poor orphan, who, through no fault of her own, has had a wretched start in life. Right from the start, we're rooting for her, seeing her not just as a helpless waif surrounded by pathetic excuses for humanity, but as a fighter, a girl of spirit, someone with the guts and the determination to make the best of her life, despite her numerous hardships and setbacks.

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