10 year old Jane, whose parents died of Typhus, lives with her aunt and cousins, all of whom despise her. She finally fights back, and is sent to a creepy room to await punishment.
Why Jane might be hard to identify with: No reason. She’s intensely sympathetic.
- She slips off to read, and we get a snippet of the verse she reads.
- We see glimpses of her vivid imagination, including “a black, horned thing, seated aloof on a rock.”
- Pop culture of the day is name-checked, including “Pamela”
- “Why was I always suffering, always brow-beaten, always accused, forever condemned?”
- She feels she deserves her abuse on some level: “She really must exclude me from privileges intended only for contented, happy little children.”
- Her reading is interrupted and insulted, which obviously, since we’re currently reading, is going to bond us to her.
- He has vivid fear of further abuse: “every nerve I had feared him, and every morsel of flesh on my bones shrunk when he came near.”
- She’s poor: “You have no business to take our books; you are a dependent, mamma 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, and eat the same meals we do, and wear clothes at our mamma’s expense.”
- She fears she’s the monster at the end of the book. In the mirror in the red room, she sees herself as “the strange little figure there gazing at me, with a white face and arms specking the gloom, and glittering eyes of fear moving where all else was still, had the effect of a real spirit. I thought it like one of the tiny phantoms, half fairy, half imp, Bessie’s evening stories represented as coming up out of lone, ferny dells, in moors, and appearing before the eyes of belated travellers.”
- She’s over-punished for everything while her peers can get away with anything.
- Her aunt insults her for being “a questioner”, but we like that about her.
- She fights back physically. “I resisted all the way: a new thing for me.” It’s always good to begin a story at the moment that longstanding problem becomes untenable.
- “I was conscious that a moment’s mutiny had already rendered me liable to strange penalties, and, like any other rebel slave, I felt resolved, in my desperation, to go all lengths. ‘Hold her arms, Miss Abbot; she’s like a mad cat.’”