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At Gateshead

[Jane Eyre is ten years old. Both her parents are dead. She lives with her aunt, Mrs. Reed, and three cousins, Eliza, John and Georgiana. Bessie is the servant maid.]

Bessie: Miss. Jane, keep out of mischiefs today. Mrs. Reed is in a frightful mood at breakfast this morning.
Jane: Oh, she never takes notice of me anymore. I think she hides in the sitting room if she hears me coming down the stairs.
Bessie: I am speaking of Miss. Georgiana and Eliza. No quarrelling with those two or you will have the whole house in uproar.
Jane: Oh, it’s not me who starts it. I’ll hide myself in the library with Uncle Reed’s book.
Jane Eyre is an orphan who belongs to the Reed family. She lost her parents at a very young age. Her mother was neglected by her family as she had married against their wish. Both her mother and father died from a deadly disease. Jane's uncle Mr. Reed brought her to the Reed's family as he did not want his niece to suffer alone. But his wife, Mrs. Reed and her children Eliza, John and Georgina hated Jane. They considered her as an extra in the household. When Mr. Reed was in his death bed, he made his wife promise that Jane would be taken proper care of, which ruined all their plans of kicking her out. But she was treated her very poorly, did not give her proper schooling or food.
At the beginning of the play, The maid Bessie warns Jane not to get into any kind of trouble, which shows that generally, Jane has to experience a lot of troubles from the family. She gives a hint that Mrs. Reed was in a bad mood when she last saw her at the breakfast table. This also shows that Jane is not included in the family routines as she does not have breakfast with them. Jane's reply also indicates that she is just like any other object lying around the house. Nobody ever takes notice of her, and her existence has become a burden for the family. Jane also tells Bessie that her aunt avoids even the act of facing her, as she hides in her sitting room if she senses her walking across the stairs. She considers her as a nuisance that she is angered by the very face of the young child.
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Jane is lonely and nobody cares about her
Bessie indicates that it was Georgina and Lizzie, the young miss Reeds, that she was talking about. This shows that even the younger children in the house mistreat Jane. They probably imbibed their mother's characteristics and took on her hatred, as children tend to imitate their parents. Mrs Reed has set a bad example of herself for her kids. The cousins also think that Jane is an unwelcomed guest in their house and spew hatred over her, that Bessie asks her to stay away from them to protect herself. The house would turn up against her if there is even a slight spark. Jane tells her that she had never picked a fight with them, meaning that the cousins pick on her on simple things, just to put her down or get her punished. She innocently says that she would stay in the library, reading her uncle's old book, showing that she has always lead a lonely life with only books to keep her company. Although she is not given proper education as she is a girl and orphan, she reads books and keeps herself equipped with enough knowledge.
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Jane spends time with her books
Meaning of difficult words:
Maid A person who works in a house
Mischief Being naughty
Frightful Scary
Uproar Disturbances or confusion
Sitting-room A room in the house where people are pass time in leisure
Quarrelling  Fighting
Imbibe To take in
Equip To supply with whatever is necessary
Spew To pour out
Nuisance Causing inconvenience or annoying people
State Council of Educational Research and Training (2019). Term-3 English Standard-7. Jane Eyre- Charlotte Bronte (pp. 136-154). Published by the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation.