John Reed and Mr Brocklehurst in Jane Eyre

Topics: Books

Charlotte Bronte was a female writer in the 19th century. She was born in 1816 and suffered the loss of her Mother at the age of 5. She was then moved to a Yorkshire parsonage, and shared a close relationship with her siblings. During their time at the parsonage, they created a ‘fantasy world’ using nothing but toy soldiers and their imagination. This shows that they were obviously socially deprived, forcing them to socialise via their imaginary characters. One could assume that Charlotte’s deprived childhood might have contributed to the way in which she portrayed characters in her novels, and the genre.

As regards to the question above, Jane’s character is defined by the meeting of 3 characters; John Reed, Mrs Reed and Mr Brocklehurst. When Jane encounters John Reed, we can see that she is (as a child) a ‘bold’ character that isn’t easily intimidated, without the use of undue violence, and even then Jane is often resilient. A quote that justifies this is: “Wicked and cruel boy! … You are like a murderer, you are like a slave driver, you are like the Roman Emperors”

This was Jane’s retort to one of John’s many childish and spontaneous violent acts.

Because of John’s stupidity, he must resort to violence in order to re-gain his role as ‘alpha male’, although her retorts often only worsen the situation as Jane knows they irritate John. We also see that Jane likes to be quite isolated from her surroundings; although this could be due to the way she was treated.

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Evidence that supports this is the quote from the text: “With Bewick on my knee, I was then happy: happy at least in my way”

Sarah Reed’s Role in Jane Eyre

This shows us that Jane must seclude herself from everything, in order to feel calm. Finally, Jane’s encounter with John allows us to see that she is a bright, quick-witted character. We know this as she will often relish on John’s stupidity, and use it against him to briefly take the ‘dominant’ role. Mrs Reed is another aspect of Jane’s character. Mrs Reed allows us to again, notice the ‘boldness’ of her character. Mrs Reed is another resentful figure towards Jane, and is often drawn into arguments between Master Reed and Jane.

Because of Mrs Reed’s hostility towards Jane, she uses such arguments as a way to gang up on Jane, and intimidate her. An example of this from the text would be: “Take her away to the red-room and lock her in there” The quote above shows Mrs Reed punishing Jane/defending John, despite her not seeing what actually happened. Mrs Reed most likely feels burdened by Jane’s imposing presence, or possibly even threatened; thus provoking her hostility. This only further tempts Jane into a retort, thus starting a vicious circle between the Reed’s and Jane.

Finally, to sum up Jane’s character; we meet Mr Brocklehurst. Mr Brocklehurst is a very strict, religious man, who believes in rules such as: ‘Children should speak only when spoken to’ This reflects as he meets Jane for the first time. He is taken aback by Jane’s daring, non-submissive attitude, and is obviously used to intimidating children similar to Jane. When the two characters ‘collide’ we see a new side of Jane. At first she is bold and daring (her usual character), but towards the end of the meeting she because almost submissive.

This is due to Mr Brocklehurst offering her a place away from Mrs Reed and John; Lowood school. She see’s this as a fresh chance; a chance to make new friends and start over. This causes her to be civil in Mr Brocklehurst’s presence, and even surprises Mrs reed! After this, Mrs Reed and Jane meet one last time. Jane; knowing she has a new start waiting, ‘launches’ into Mrs Reed, attempting to provoke guilt. This is a new aspect of Jane’s character – rage. This time Mrs Reed doesn’t have her wits about her, and succumbs to Jane, allowing her to take the dominant role.

To conclude, the three characters portray Jane as a bright child with elements of anger. We can see that Jane is obviously suffering a deprived childhood, and lacks the love and compassion offered by a true family. Because of this, Jane is left to fend for herself; causing her to mature quickly for her age, and experience strong emotions of what could possibly be described as depression. In spite of this, she is a bold, determined girl who won’t let such feelings get to her. All in all Jane a mixed character.

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John Reed and Mr Brocklehurst in Jane Eyre. (2019, Dec 05). Retrieved from

John Reed and Mr Brocklehurst in Jane Eyre
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