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Characters

Mrs. Reed

Characters Mrs. Reed

Mrs. Reed is a figure of injustice and hypocrisy in Jane Eyre. Her jealousy over her husband’s care for orphaned Jane demonstrates a shocking lack of charity and love. She calls Jane evil and godless, yet she lies to John Eyre simply to deprive Jane of her inheritance. Mrs. Reed’s willingness to sin against a child out of jealousy characterizes her as a religious hypocrite. She also upholds oppressive Victorian patriarchal values. She spoils her daughters, but pays most attention to her son, John, coddling him despite his violent and wasteful behaviors. Her blindness to his faults symbolizes the unmerited privileging of men over women. Mrs. Reed is a static character, demonstrated by her inability to grow beyond her resentment toward Jane. Because of this bitterness, Mrs. Reed becomes a barometer for how much Jane has grown and changed. During Mrs. Reed’s deathbed confession, Jane sincerely forgives her and wishes her peace, even though Mrs. Reed still hates her. This contrast illuminates how Jane has matured beyond the rages of her childhood. In this light, Mrs. Reed’s death provides closure on Jane’s bitterness and anger, as they no longer hold power over her life.