Orphans in Jane Eyre
Jane, one of the orphans in the novel Jane Eyre, is portrayed as the victim of charity. She is also seen in others' eyes as something less or lower than themselves. Orphans are seen by wealthy people as children who are in need of their charity, and also who lack in morals, ambition, and culture. Jane tells about how she has no family; her mother and her father had the typhus fever, and "both died within a month of each other" (58; ch. 3). As if this is not bad enough, she is also excluded from being a part of the Reed family:
Me, [Mrs. Reed] had dispensed from joining the group, saying, 'she regretted to be under the necessity of keeping me at a distance; but that until she heard from Bessie, and could discover by her own observation that I was endeavoring in good earnest to acquire a more sociable and childlike disposition, a more attractive and sprightly manner - something lighter, franker, more natural, as it were - she really must exclude me from privileges intended only for contented, happy little children. (39; ch. 1)
Further, after Jane comes out of the red room, Mrs. Reed and the children go out for a carriage ride and leave Jane behind (55; ch. 3). Again, at Christmas time, "From every enjoyment I was, of course, excluded: my share of the gaiety consisted in witnessing the daily apparelling of Eliza and Georgiana, and seeing them descend to the drawing-room, dressed out in thin muslin frocks and scaarlet sashes, with hair elaborately ringleted" (60; ch. 4). This not only shows her exclusion from family and family gatherings, but also that she is not perceived to be as good, happy, or sociable as her cousins.
Her cousin John even makes her out to be something less than he, "You have no business to take our books; you are a dependant, mamma says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not live here with gentlemen's children like us, and eat the same meals as we do, and wear clothes at our mamma's expense" (42; ch. 1). Also, when she is being carried up to the red room, the lady's maid makes a remark about John being her master and Jane asks if she is a servant and the maid replies, "No; you are less than a servant" (44; ch. 2). Mrs. Reed even tells John that Jane "is not worthy of notice. I do not choose that either you or your sisters should associate with her" (59; ch. 4). There are also references to Jane an animal, John calls her a "bad animal" (41; ch. 1) and a "rat" (42; ch. 1). Abbot, the lady's maid also looks at Jane as an animal, "if she were a nice, pretty child, one might compassionate her forlornness; but one really cannot care for such a little toad as that" (58; ch. 3).
In chapter three, Bessie sings a ballad that describes the orphan's life as well. The ballad speaks of orphans' loneliness and sad life. At the end of the ballad, Bessie tells Jane, "Come, Miss Jane, don't cry," and Jane is wondering "how could she divine the morbid suffering...