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Cycnos | Volume 25 Spécial - 2008

The other (m)other in Jane Eyre

As Jane’s surrogate mother, Mrs Reed, her aunt by marriage, never fulfills her role properly, as she herself admits on her death bed. Throughout her childhood, she figuratively poisons Jane’s life with her constant sarcasms and cruelty, turning Jane into another Cinderella or ugly duckling, the scapegoat of the nursery, ostracized from a family which hates her.  Mrs Reed’s enterprise is to negate Jane’s existence, first by sending her away to Lowood, an insalubrious place for poor orphan girls where she hopes the child may die, before actually declaring she is dead to a generous uncle who wanted to make Jane his heir. But Mrs Reed is defeated both by Jane herself, whose resilience is also rewarded by a Providence that helps those who help themselves. She dies, unmourned, and Jane eventually inherits from her uncle : all is well that ends well in a world where fairy tale combines with social romance to ensure the heroine’s happiness and promotion.

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