Examples Of Outsiders In Jane Eyre

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Growing up as a Buddhist Chinese Malaysian in an increasingly Islamic Malay-centric Malaysia, I oftentimes feel like an outsider. Consequently, I was drawn to the outsiders and the social Other in literature during my undergraduate years in NCCU. The presence of the Other and the outsider can be traced from ancient Greek dramas to modern literature, from Medea to the Underground Man. However, the outsider in literature who resonates with me the most is the titular protagonist of Jane Eyre. As the penniless orphan daughter of a deceased gentleman, Jane Eyre is treated as the social Other wherever she goes, for she doesn’t fit into the establish social moulds of either gentry or servants. Apart from the orphans at Lowood and recluses at Marsh End (who are social outsiders themselves), characters in Jane Eyre shun the protagonist from their social circles. For example, at Gateshead, John Reed marginalizes Jane by calling her a “dependent” who doesn’t deserve to live amongst “gentleman’s children” (8). Mrs. Reed likewise separates Jane from the Reeds’ social circle by confining her to the nursery while her cousins spend their days in the drawing room (22) and calling Mr. Lloyd, the apothecary for “ailing servants,” instead of the family physician for Jane’s illness (15), thus placing her among the servants. However, the servants too reject Jane from their group—Miss Abbot told Jane that she is “less than a servant” because she does “nothing for [her] keep” (9). Jane thus

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