Essential Passage 1: Chapter 1
“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, and 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 the 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.”
Jane Eyre, orphaned as an infant, had been reared by Mr. Reed, her uncle. Before he died, Mr. Reed made his wife promise to treat Jane as her own child. Mrs. Reed reluctantly agreed to do so, but immediately disregarded her promise and considered Jane an unwelcome burden on the household. The Reed children, especially John, go out of their way to be abusive to their cousin. On the occasion related in the above passage, Jane has taken refuge in a curtained nook, where she hides with a favorite book away from John’s meanness. However, he finds her and berates her for daring to touch the Reeds’ property, including their books. He belittles her position as an orphan, penniless and dependent on the charity of relatives. He makes sure she understands what a great financial and familial burden she is, one which he intends to rectify when he comes of age.
Essential Passage 2: Chapter 4
Mrs. Reed's hands still lay on her work inactive: her eye of ice continued to dwell freezingly on mine.
“What more have you to say?” she asked rather in the tone in which a person might address an opponent of adult age than such as is ordinarily used to a child.
That eye of hers, that voice, stirred every antipathy I had. Shaking from head to foot, thrilled with ungovernable excitement, I continued: “I am glad you are no relation of mine: I will never call you aunt again as long as I live. I will never come to see you when I am grown up; and if any one asks me how I liked you, and how you treated me, I will say the very thought of you makes me sick, and that you treated me with miserable cruelty.”
“How dare you affirm that, Jane Eyre?”
“How dare I, Mrs. Reed? How dare I? Because it is the truth. You think I have no feelings, and that I can do without one bit of love or kindness; but I cannot live so: and you have no pity. I shall remember how you thrust me back—roughly and violently thrust me back—into the red-room, and locked me up there, to my dying day; though I was in agony, though I cried out, while suffering with distress, ‘Have mercy! Have mercy, Aunt Reed!’ And that punishment you made me suffer because your wicked boy struck me—knocked me down for nothing. I will tell any body who asks me questions, this exact tale. People think you a good woman, but you are bad; hard-hearted. You are deceitful!”
Mrs. Reed has decided, on the advice of Mr. Lloyd, the apothecary, to send Jane to school. She has found one suitable, she believes, to rid Jane of her “wickedness.” Lowood is run by Mr. Brocklehurst, a self-righteous, mean-spirited, hypocritical cleric. On visiting Jane to determine her qualifications for Lowood (a school specifically meant for poor and orphaned children), he is met with her obstinance and her willfulness; he thus finds himself in agreement with Mrs. Reed’s assessment of Jane's character, and accepts Jane into Lowood. Coming to say good-bye to her aunt, Jane...
(The entire section is 1547 words.)