How would you describe Mrs. Reed in Jane Eyre? Is she a likable woman?

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Mrs. Reed is a vain, selfish, and abusive woman. The narrator describes her as having an eye "devoid of truth," which naturally turns the reader against her as a false and devious character. She spoils her children and enables their tyrannical behavior towards young Jane Eyre. She denies Jane the basic love and respect owed to any child, particularly a relative. Not only does Mrs. Reed lock Jane Eyre in a room where her beloved uncle died to cry in terror all alone, but she also ships her off to school with a poor recommendation to ensure Jane's future is as bleak as her present.

Even on her deathbed, Mrs. Reed makes no attempt at reconciliation or affection when it comes to Jane. The narrator notes that Mrs. Reed "regarded me, so icily, I felt at once that her opinion of me—her feeling toward me—was unchanged and unchangeable."

While towards the end of the book Jane Eyre expresses pity for Mrs. Reed—that she is a "Poor, suffering woman!" twisted up in her hatred—it does little to soften the reader's opinion of Mrs. Reed. If anything, it merely increases the reader's opinion of Jane Eyre for being so forgiving when Mrs. Reed is so cruel and then, at the end of her life, withholds any last moment of apology, love, or self-reflection. Mrs. Reed is, from beginning to end, entirely unlikable.

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