In Chapter 4 of Jane Eyre, why is Jane more outgoing and open with Bessie after her victory over Mrs. Reed, and how does Bessie respond?What do Bessie's and Jane's conversation reveal about...

In Chapter 4 of Jane Eyre, why is Jane more outgoing and open with Bessie after her victory over Mrs. Reed, and how does Bessie respond?

What do Bessie's and Jane's conversation reveal about Jane?Why doesn't she tell Bessie about her encounter with Mrs. Reed?

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After Jane rebukes Mrs. Reed for lying about her, she states that she "enjoyed my conqueror's solitude":

Something of vengeance I had tasted for the first time, as aromatic wine it seemed....

Even though Jane feels some "after-flavor, metallic and corroding" that gives her a poisoned feeling, she realizes that to apologize to Mrs. Reed is "the way to make her repulse me with double scorn...." With this new-found strength, Jane is more assertive with Bessie, saying, "Come, Bessie!  Don't scold."  Jane narrates,

The action was more frank and fearless than any I was habituated to indulge in:  somehow it pleased her.

Obviously, Bessie is impressed with Jane's defending herself.  She promises to have tea with Jane and treats her with great kindness.  When Jane assertively tells Bessie, " must promise not to scold me any more till I go,"  Bessie agrees and instructs her,

'Well, I will:  but mind you are a very good girl, and don't be afraid of me.  Don't start when I chance to speak rather sharply:  it's so provoking.'

'I don't think I shall ever be afraid of you again,...but I shall soon have another set of people to dread.'

'If you dread them, they'll dislike you.'

Thus, Bessie reinforces the lesson that Jane has just learned in her encounter with Mrs. Reed:  People will treat one in the manner that one allows them to.  Since Bessie already knows this lesson, Jane does not bother to tell her about the incident with Mrs. Reed.  In addition, little Jane is so happy to receive affection that she does not wish to spoil her happiness by taking a chance on telling Bessie what has occurred: "Even for me life had its gleams of sunshine."


mkcapen1 | Student

Jane Eyre has not had kind words presented to her since her arrival to the Reed household.  The children have been mean to her, Bessie scolds her often, and Mr. Abbott and his wife treat her with contempt.   She has lashed out against them because of the manner in which they have treated her.  She goes after John who is a spoiled young boy who also treats the servants badly.  Jane stands up for herself to Mrs. Reed and tells her that he children are "not fit to associate with me." (30).  Mrs.  Reed boxes her ears and punishes her.  Bessie begins to visit Jane in the nursery and bring her food and kisses her and gives kind words to Jane.  Jane is appreciate of her affection.

It does not say in the book, but I believe that Bessie is aware that her mistress, Mrs. Reed, is planning to send Jane away.  Bessie knows that Jane has no idea and she feels pity for the child.  Some of this is foreshadowed on page 34 when Bessie tells Jane to scrub herself get cleaned up.  Jane is later called for the interview with the man from and orphan school.

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Jane Eyre

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