The first chapter in Charlotte Bronte's novel Jane Eyre has important information about Jane's character, personality, and trials that she faces at age 10. The chapter opens with her out walking with her cousins and the nurse during a winter afternoon. The winter scene is beautiful but Jane is as cold physically as her aunt and cousins are mentally, emotionally, and socially. In fact, as the children enter the house, Jane is excluded from her aunt as the others go to her near the fireplace to get warm.
Rejected, Jane goes to the window to read whereupon John, her 14-year old cousin interrupts and throws the book at her head. Jane verbally defends herself, but is imprisoned in the red room by the chapter's end and John is not disciplined. These events promptly introduce the reader to Jane's social place as an orphan among distant family which places her at the near-bottom of England's social class where there seems to be no hope of happiness or love. Sadly, Jane's cousin John is only the first of bullies that she faces in the story.
Other essential parts to the first chapter include what Jane reads while in the window seat (which references a stranded, lonely boat that seems to symbolize Jane), the fact that Jane is an orphan, that she is easily terrified, and that she is educated and determined to stand up for herself.