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Girl Power: The Importance of Female Relationships in Jane Eyre

The novel starts begins with Jane’s childhood years at Gateshead, the home of the Reeds. At Gateshead, Jane is emotionally and physically abused by her aunt Mrs. Reed and her cousins. Mrs. Reed makes her dislike for Jane obvious by treating Jane like a burden and keeping children from interacting with Jane. In her absence, Mrs. Reed’s children, particularly John, continue to bully poor Jane. In the beginning of the novel, Jane defends herself against John, but this act ends up getting herself sent up to the red-room. In this red-room, Bronte shows how much those years of mistreatment affected Jane:
“Unjust!—unjust!” said my reason, forced by the agonising stimulus into precocious though transitory power: and Resolve, equally wrought up, instigated some strange expedient to achieve escape from insupportable oppression—as running away, or, if that could not be effected, never eating or drinking more, and letting myself die.
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I was a discord in Gateshead Hall: I was like nobody there; I had nothing in harmony with Mrs. Reed or her children, or her chosen vassalage[...]They were not bound to regard with affection a thing that could not sympathise with one amongst them; a heterogeneous thing, opposed to them in temperament, in capacity, in propensities; a useless thing, incapable of serving their interest, or adding to their pleasure[...]I know that had I been a sanguine, brilliant, careless, exacting, handsome, romping child—though equally dependent and friendless—Mrs. Reed would have endured my presence more complacently; her children would have entertained for me more of the cordiality of fellow-feeling; the servants would have been less prone to make me the scapegoat of the nursery. (Bronte 15)
Alone in the red-room, Jane is ...

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