Summary Of The Novel 'Childhood At Gateshead Hall'

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3.1. Childhood at Gateshead Hall
Jane gets to know that she does not fit into the beauty ideal already in her early childhood. Her physical inferiority to her cousins Eliza, John and Georgiana Reed is mentioned in the very first few page of the novel (Brontë 9). The Reeds keep her “at a distance” (9) and she does not belong to their family. Furthermore, Jane is fully aware of her inferiority and asks herself: “Why could I never please?” In the same passage she compares herself to Georgiana, whose faults are easily forgiven by others although she “had a spoiled temper, a very acrid spite, a captious and insolent carriage, was universally indulged.” (18) These bad characteristics seem to be excusable because of “her beauty, her pink cheeks and golden curls “, that “seemed to give
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Jane’s perception is emphasized by a conversation between Bessie and Abbott she randomly overhears, after she was locked into the red-room. They both share the opinion that if Jane were “a nice, pretty child, one might compassionate her” and that “a beauty like Miss Georgiana would be more moving in the same condition” (31). This statement clearly accentuates the utmost importance of outer appearances and most of all beauty at the time. It displays that compassion and affection were hard to receive when you were not pretty. The reader, on the other hand, probably pities Jane after her horrible experience in the red-room, therefore this emphasize on beauty has to be seen in a critical way. As Jen Cadwallader expresses in her Essay “Plain Jane and the Limits of Female Beauty”: “the homage paid to her appearance is a detriment to the development of her [Georgiana’s] character.” (Cadwallader 239). Thanks to her beauty, others seem to ignore or play down the mistakes Georgiana makes in her life, because of that she develops into “shallow” and “self-centred”
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