Jane Eyre is a young girl, aged just ten, who is extremely poor and has no money of her own. She is an intelligent, honest, plain-featured girl who forced to contend with oppression, inequality, and hardship.
As she is an orphan she goes to stay with her relatives at Thornfield Hall where she acts as governess. She receives little respect from her relations and is treated callously by her spoilt cousins. She has a serious dislike for her older cousin, John Reed, because he enjoys torturing Jane without motive. The mistress of the house, Aunt Reed, is always telling Jane to be appreciative for what she already has and that if she wants to be treated in a respectable manner she should act grateful and exultant. One of the housemaids who is a resident at Thornfield Hall, known as Bessie to Jane, often shows more respect to Jane than the rest of her family. .
Jane is very intelligent. She likes to shut herself away from the bustle of the Reed family and to bury herself into a book. Jane has a tendency to read about far away, desolate places, maybe because she has a desire to be in a far away place herself. Jane is very good at imagining things and she fantasises about a better life. The difference between Jane and her cousins is that because they are so inferior and already have everything, they have no need to use their imagination, so in that way she is more intellectual than they are. .
Throughout the first few chapters of the book it states that the colour red constantly surrounds Jane. This could mean that she feels that she is in serious danger or it could mean that she is feeling deeply emotional. .
She feels poignant and miserable because her family do not like her. There is evidence in the text that her cousins have not taken to her because they refer to her as a 'bad animal' and a 'rat' even though she had done nothing to deserve these titles. Aunt Reed is quoted as saying she has the physicality's of a toad.