The above piece on Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre sparks an idea that may not be formed upon an initial read of the novel. Many readers agree that the character of Jane Eyre was abused by her aunt, Sarah Reed and her children, Jane's cousins. The passage above entails an encounter with Jane and her spoiled rotten cousin, John Reed. One might argue that Jane Eyre was an abused and neglected child, however, upon closer review, it also could be said that Jane was anything but a "typical" abused child. She scoffed at her cousin's taunting of her, "musing" his ugly appearance. Although he did mistreat her, she fought back with every bit of strength that she had. Would a "typical" abused child fight back this way? The thought is doubtful. An abused child typically becomes withdrawn and subservient. This is definitely not the road that Jane took in dealing with her "abuse." Charlotte Bronte's portrayal of Jane does imply that Jane was in an abusive situation. However, Jane stood up and decided she would learn how to "endure the blow" rather than let it get her down. These early pages of the novel truly set a precedent for how bad things that happen to Jane simply make her stronger. .
The idea of Jane Eyre's abuse as a child in her aunt's home is therefore romanticized in the novel. Romanticism in this case is Jane creating the drama leading up to the encounter with John Reed and also in it's aftermath. Even after Jane is locked away in the red room, Bessie and Miss Abbott agree that Jane is an "underhand little thing," and that they had "never saw a girl of her age with so much cover." Once again the idea arises, would an abused child react this way? The abuse certainly existed at some level. However, Jane shocks everyone in the house with her failure to make herself "agreeable." It seems that the reason John Reed is so angered by Jane time and time again is because he senses that she is ready to fight back.