The Distribution of Power at Gateshead in Jane Eyre

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At Gateshead, the Reed family holds power over Jane Eyre. The Reed's power comes in several forms, including limiting Jane's social contact as well as bullying her. The Reeds also psychologically abuse Jane by attacking her value. Mrs. Reed does not allow Jane to interact with her cousins saying that not until, "by her own observation that I was endeavoring in good earnest to acquire a more sociable and child-like disposition, …she really must exclude me from privileges intended only for contented, happy, little children." (p.7) This line not only shows the limit of Jane's social contact, but also her exclusion from the family as well as a psychological attack against her. Jane's cousin John is the member of the Reed family that physically holds power over her. "He bullied and punished me: not two or three times in the week, nor once or twice in the day, but continually: every nerve I had feared him …" (p.10) Up until Jane's fight with John, she was expected to remain silent until she could "speak pleasantly," she also took all of her abuse without reply. Throughout John's bullying, Jane's, "care was how to endure the blow which would certainly follow the insult." (p.10) She realizes that reacting will do her no good and that is shown when she does react to John throwing the book at her, Mrs. Reed punished her by sending her to the red-room, while it appears that John receives no punishment. Jane is also reminded of how she is not apart of the Reed family. When John finds her reading he tells Jane that, "You have no business to take our books: you are a dependant, mama says: you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not to live here with gentlemen's children like us." (p.11) Once Jane does gain hope of leaving the Reeds household, the Reeds begin to act curler towards her. Jane's social interaction is further red…