Jane Eyre


Chapter 1 to Chapter 5


Chapter 1


            The novel begins in media res with Jane aged 10 in a less-than-satisfactory situation.  She is the parentless ward of her late uncle’s wife, Mrs. Reed.  Mrs. Reed has little love for Jane and sees her as an intruder in her world.

            The story is told in the first person.  Jane is the narrator of the tale, and she begins it by asserting that the wintry weather will not allow for a walk outside.  She is “glad of it,” for she does not like long walks.  Staying in, however, does not really have its advantages.  Jane is constantly under a cloud of suspicion and is teased and bullied by her cousins, Eliza, John and Georgiana.  All of the Reed children are spoiled, and John is the worst of them.  He loves to provoke Jane, and when he is hurt by her, he makes it look to his mother as though Jane were to blame for everything.

            For this reason, Jane is not allowed to stay in the company of Mrs. Reed and her children.  Jane slips into a small breakfast room where she knows there is a bookcase and takes a book to read:  Bewick’s History of British Birds.  Jane identifies with the images of bleak landscapes that the book inspires in her mind.  She looks at the illustrations and enjoys her solitude, fearing only that she will be interrupted.

            She is interrupted momentarily:  John Reed has come to harass her.  Jane hides behind the curtain.  When he does not see her, he calls his sisters.  Eliza enters and instantly sees where Jane is hiding.  Jane reveals herself and asks what John wants.  He demands to be called Master Reed.  He is described as a flabby boy who has been allowed to leave school on...

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