Period of childhood between Marginalization and Abuse Jane Eyre’s childhood portrays a harsh and tyrannical period in protagonist’s life. This part of the novel points out childhood feelings of hurt and loss.
Jane Eyre’s world as a child consists from two important places, that played a major role in setting of the mood of her childhood, these are Gateshead and Lowood. Here, Jane experiences one of the loveless and saddest time in her life. She is an orphaned, ten-year-old child, dependent on her aunt’s family, where most of the time she is abused, verbally, physically and emotionally. The Reed’s family placed Jane in a physical inferiority.
Inside of this family, she is subjected to social and economical marginalization. She occupies a distinct position of physical marginality and she is treated like an insignificant and inanimate being. Due to her lack of family and a high social position, they attempted to transform Jane in a scapegoat, and blame her for her miserable status, turning her into the sheep of the family. Mrs Reed, her aunt, is always isolating her from others, mistreating Jane, because her husband brought Jane against her will. The Reeds, in the words of John Peters,”attempt to transform Jane into the other by excluding her from society and by labeling her as something other than human” (57).
Her childhood is gloomy, embodying lack of affection, she is excluded and singled out. She becomes a victim of unjust treatment. Jane seeks happiness in books and private thought, creating a form of escapism, she finds herself in a world of imagination and artistry. Her childhood depicts an environment of pain and terror.This terror is increased when Jane is locked in the red-room, which becomes another physical barrier dividing her from the others in the house. The Reeds relegate her to the physical and solitary confinement. Due to their abuse and marginalization she starts to apply non-human labels to herself as the Reed’s had defined her earlier as an “other”. This harsh idea is emphasized in her words: All look colder and darker in that visionary hollow than in reality: and the strange little figure there gazing at me, with a white face and arms specking the gloom, and glittering eyes of fear moving where all else was still, had the e effect of a real spirit: I thought it like one of the tiny phantoms, half fairy, half imp .
. . (11)”. Her childhood not represents just a simple separation from the others but a liminal sphere set between two worlds, that of the Reeds and that of the servants. Jane is disowned by servants too, who reproach to her, that she is doing nothing for her keep. Jane does not belong to either of these two societies, neither to servants, nor to the Reeds. But she still desires love, a sad child that hopes to be cared for by somebody.
Her otherworldly state cannot be accepted by this family. She was interpreted as a compound of virulent passions, mean spirit, and dangerous duplicity, because in Victorian era children were expected to come across as innocent and ignorant of intellectual opinion, but Jane surely was considered a rebel. This is the most important reason that causes her a suffering in her childhood filled with insecurity. Being a part from Reed’s family, made Jane to go through a hard path in her life. A solitary child that had been bullied, abused and unfairly accused of all the bad. The childhood terrible experience continues as Jane Eyre is sent to Lowood School.
At this location she is further subjected to inhuman, abusive conditions. This time, Jane is ostracized by Mr Brocklehurst, the school headmaster. His classist behavior was considered as a necessary treatment for the unruly charity children.
In this part of the novel, Charlotte Bronte chronicles a reclusive, pessimistic, and self-deprecating childhood of one victim of child.