Jane Eyre Questions and Answers
by Charlotte Brontë

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How is Jane treated unjustly as a child at Gateshead?

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At Gateshead, Mrs. Reed always favors her own three children, Eliza, John, and Georgiania, over the poor relation Jane Eyre. John, especially, torments Jane many times a day, but Mrs. Reed pretends she doesn't see it. As Jane explains:

I had no appeal whatever against either his menaces or his inflictions; the servants did not like to offend their young master by taking my part against him, and Mrs. Reed was blind and deaf on the subject: she never saw him strike or heard him abuse me, though he did both now and then in her very presence, more frequently, however, behind her back.

Events come to a head when John throws a book at Jane, which causes her head to hit the door and start bleeding. Completely fed up with the abuse, Jane attacks John and is punished by being locked in the Red Room. In the Red Room, Jane wonders, Why is she, who always she tries so hard to do what is right, always treated badly? She knows Mrs. Reed dislikes her, and the servants favor the Reed children. She realizes this because they have nothing in common, and she realizes that she doesn't like them any more than they like her. But she also recognizes that if she could have been more like them, she wouldn't have been abused:

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 scapegoat of the nursery.

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