But anyway, wow, so much going on in this chapter. Jane resists her captors as they drag her to the Red Room, which she says is "a new thing for me" (p. 17). We can tell she's been inwardly resisting people and ideas for a while already, but this is the first time she put up a physical resistance. Good practice for her future.
It makes me sooooo angry that the maid, Abbot, says, "What shocking conduct, Miss Eyre, to strike a young gentleman" (p. 17). Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't it be shocking for a young gentleman to strike a little girl? She's bleeding! Everyone has to know her head wound isn't self-inflicted. But no one cares. No one cares. Oh, it's a good thing I can't slip inside books like Thursday Next, because I'd probably take a shotgun to everyone in the Reed household. A horsewhip, at the very least.
But, really, why does no one care? Because Jane Eyre is different from everyone else in the house. She is other. Jane, by the end of the chapter says this herself: "I was like nobody there" (p. 21). Her differentness in temperament, intellect, emotion, behavior, interests, and bloodline keep the Reeds (and their servants) at a distance. She simply does not belong.
Be that as it may, I still want to wreak vengeance on them. I don't understand a lot of people, but that doesn't make me mistreat them, lock them up, or let them be beaten and tormented. I often say I don't like the beginning of this book, even though I love the book as a whole dearly, and much of that is because it makes me very angry. With Jane, I yell, "Unjust! unjust!" (p. 21).
Okay, I'll try to move on. I do like that glimpse Jane catches of herself in the mirror. "I thought it like one of the tiny phantoms, half fairy, half imp, Bessie's evening stories represented" (p. 20). Which is precisely what Mr. Rochester accuses her of being on their first meeting. Oh, I love that bit of foreshadowing!
Possible Discussion Questions:
Do you think Mrs. Reed's attitude toward Jane is understandable?
Do you have any theories as to why Bronte gave Jane such a thoroughly miserable childhood?