From Charlotte Bronte's novel Jane Eyre, what do we know about Jane and her relationship with the Reeds after chapter one?

Expert Answers
tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The best way to describe how the Reed family feels about Jane is explicitly shown by John Reed's own words from chapter one. He says the following:

"You have no business to take our books; you are a dependent, mamma says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, an d not to live here with gentlemen's children like us, and eat the same meals we do, and wear clothes at our mamma's expense. Now I'll teach you to rummage my book-shelves: for they are mine; all this house belongs to me, or will do in a few years. Go and stand by the door, out of the way of the mirror and the windows" (8).

Many different issues are presented in this one rant by Jane's older cousin. Not only does he remind her that she's a penniless orphan, but he provides details about how much of a burden she is on the family's finances. Plus, she's not even worthy of the family's expense, therefore, she should be a beggar and a social outcast, which foreshadows what she faces throughout the novel anyway. Finally, he implicitly tells her she is ugly by ordering her to stay away from any glass that might reflect her image. Prejudice, injustice, and social discrimination all culminate into one abusive attack after another and this is just one example. We learn that Jane is an orphan with no real family or love in her life.

ink-smudge | Student

You see Jane get pushed around by her bully cousin, and you know that she isn't accepted as one of the family. You watch Jane's response to a great deal of emotional stimuli, and you notice how she isn't nearly as prone to excitement and babble as most children are. The story also states this as a bad thing, and Jane is disliked because of it. You know that Mr. Reed made his wife promise to look after Jane as one of her own when he died. You also see that his wife has failed to keep this promise.