Chapters 1 and 2
A lonely 10-year old girl, Jane feels rejected and unloved, living in the
home of her aunt, Sarah Reed.
Her aunt is only concerned with her own three children and looks after Jane, an orphan, only due to the promise she made to her husband on his deathbed that she would look after Jane, his sister’s daughter, as one of her own.
Jane tries to obtain solace through reading books, but she is bullied by her
three cousins, and in particular by the oldest, John who is 14. He causes Jane to fall against the door and she cuts her head.
As usual, Jane gets the blame for the quarrel and as punishment, she is confined to the red room, which is unused and was where Mr. Reed died.
Jane has an independent spirit and will not be intimidated by her cousins or
aunt. Her aunt puts this down to sinful behavior.
Jane hates to be confined in the red room and she becomes hysterical and
This book tells the story of Jane Eyre and is in a first person narrative form.
It is important that the reader tries to get inside the skin of Jane in
order to appreciate how isolated and unloved she feels. She never knew her parents, as they died when she was baby.
This theme of loneliness and the harsh treatment of children are repeated often and is a common element for the whole story, especially in the early stages of the book.
Jane exhibits a strong spirit, which is able to sustain her through these
early years faced with the abuse from her cousins and her aunt. Her main tormentor is John Reed, who is his mother’s favorite and can do no wrong. The doting mother is unable to confront the shortcomings
of her son, as highlighted by Jane, and so her reaction is to banish Jane to the red room. This room signifies the first Gothic element of the story, and although basically Jane Eyre is a romantic novel, it
also has a strong Gothic tone.
Jane’s hysterics whilst confined in the red room can be coupled with her
thoughts concerning Mr. Reed and his burial in the crypt. The red room contains mirrors and this too adds to the atmosphere of this room.
The climax of Chapter 2 is Jane’s fainting.