In Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, the author explores the structure of Victorian society. Brontë further delves into the depths of different social classes by using the Reed residence, Gateshead. The grand house grudgingly shelters outsiders, and although they all inhabit the same space, those who do not belong are held at a considerable distance.
The red-room symbolizes the psychological struggle that the protagonist, Jane Eyre, experiences during situations in which she attempts to attain a status of social equality and is repeatedly denied entrance into the realm of parity.
During her time spent at Gateshead, Jane, a young girl, has already been made completely aware of her position in the house and in society. While struggling to be treated with the same respect as all of the other children in the house, Jane’s attempt to attain equality is thwarted. She is told after her most recent incident with her cousin, John, that she should try and be “useful and pleasant” to avoid having Mrs. Reed “send [her] away” (16). This “reproach of [her] dependence [has] become a vague sing-song” to Jane, “only half intelligible” (16). She is no longer able to accept the fact she is unequal to the other Reed children because as a child, her understanding of the structure of society is not completely refined; she no longer heeds the warnings of the household servants because following their advice has not yielded any change, and their words simply a force of habit.
Only after Jane is physically separated from the rest of the household does she begin to realize the state of her status. Jane is “a discord in Gateshead Hall” (19). She is a “heterogeneous thing…incapable of serving their interest, or adding to their pleasure” (19). The most significant variable of this realization lies in the particular room in which Mrs. Reed chose to imprison Jane. Jane is locked in the red-room, the same bedroom in which her Uncle died. His sympathy for Jane’s parents, and his decision to...