Summary of chapter 1 of  Jane Eyre.

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schulzie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In those days, walking was a form of exercise and entertainment.  Ten-year-old Jane is not fond of it, however, since many days it is very cold, and she does not like the cold. She walks with her cousins Eliza, John, and Georgiana.  When they return home, the children sit at their mother's feet near the fire , but Jane is told that she is not welcome. Her aunt, Mrs. Reed, tells her,

".....she really must exclude me from privileges intended only for contented, happy little children" (pg 11)

When Jane challenges her and asks what Bessie, the nurse, has told her, she is reprimanded and told,

"....there is something truly forbidding in a chld taking up her elders in that manner.  Be seated somewhere; and until you can speak pleasantly, remain silent." (pg 12)

Jane escapes from the breakfast room to the the drawing room which contains a bookcase. She finds a book she has read before, Bewick's History of British Birds and finds a cozy spot near in the window seat enveloping herself in the red velvet curtain in the room.

Before long, her fourteen-year-old cousin, John, enters the room looking for her. He is home from school since his mother decided he needed a break.  Jane describes him as

....."large and stout for his age, with a dingy and unwholesome skin; think linaments in a spacious visage, heavy limbs and large extremities. " (pg 14)

They do NOT have a good relationship.  He taunts Jane, telling her that she didn't have any rights in the home since she was not a part of the family. He slapped her; not the first time that was done.  When he asked her what she was doing, she admitted she was reading.  He asked to see the book, and when she produced it, he threw it at her.   Jane has been abused by him before.  This time she falls against a door and cuts her head. John, then, jumps on her and grabs her by the hair.  Jane states,

"I don't very well know what I did with my hands, but he called me 'Rat, Rat' and bellowed out loud."  (pg 16)

The reader can INFER that she defended herself because when Mrs. Reed, the nurse, and the maid arrive, they accuse her of being the instigator and flying into a fury against John.  Mrs. Reed gives instructions that Jane is to be taken to the red room and locked in there.


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Jane Eyre

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