In Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, why does Jane think Blanche is beautiful on the outside but vain and selfish on the inside?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, chapter XVII shows Blanche Ingram in all her beauty and inner ugliness. All Jane had to do was look and listen to Blanche to find out easily what type of character she is. Jane describes Miss Ingram's face, clothes and stature as perfect! In fact, Jane describes herself as plain and homely with or without Miss Ingram in the room; so to be ordered by Mr. Rochester to be present at Miss Ingram's visits seems harsh to say the least. As a governess, Jane only has a couple of grey or black dresses to her name and she is an employee, too, which positions her lower than a wealthy heiress like Miss Ingram. There are two strikes against Jane when pitted against a beautiful woman like Blanche. As foil characters, though, Jane compares and contrasts herself with Blanche on the outside and inwardly. Seeing that Jane has absolutely no chance in status or beauty against Miss Ingram, she observes the inner quality of her competition. There she finds a selfish young woman who has nothing good to say about Adele, the cute ward of Mr. Rochester, nor does she have nice things to say about governesses. Not only that, Miss Ingram doesn't have tact enough to keep her ugly thoughts about others to herself, but she doesn't refrain from letting them be known in the presence of those whom she is discussing! By the time Miss Ingram is done ripping on the presence of a child and a governess in any home, Jane has firmly secured her view of Miss Ingram, and it isn't good. Luckily, Jane didn't have to say a word because Miss Ingram showed her own true colors just by opening her mouth.