Inside and OutsideJane Eyreand Marginalization through LabelingDate:1996OnJane Eyreby Charlotte BrontëAuthor:John G. PetersFrom:Jane Eyre, Bloom's Guides.Throughout the novel, Jane appears as a threat to the other characters. Either because sheis an intruder from outside the community, because she is an enigma, or because her ideasare threatening, the other characters marginalize Jane in order to dismiss her or her ideasand thereby transform her into something non-threatening. From the very outset, thecharacters exclude Jane; even as a child she is isolated from the social group:Eliza, John, and Georgiana were now clustered round their mama in the drawing-room …Me, she had dispensed from joining the group; saying, "She regretted to be under thenecessity of keeping me at a distance; but that until she heard from Bessie, and coulddiscover by her own observation that I was endeavouring in good earnest to acquire a moresociable and child-like disposition, a more attractive and sprightly manner,—somethinglighter, franker, more natural as it were—she really must exclude me from privilegesintended only for contented, happy little children."1This scene is indicative of Jane's situation at Gateshead, and her otherness in relation to theReeds remains unchanged throughout the novel. Even later at her aunt's deathbed, Janesays of Mrs. Reed, "Poor, suffering woman! it was too late for her to make now the effort tochange her habitual frame of mind: living, she had ever hated me—dying, she must hateme still" (p. 242). Gateshead becomes representative of Jane's position outside the socialorder as a whole.Except for those at Lowood and Marsh End (who are also social outsiders in part), the othercharacters inJane Eyregenerally exclude Jane from their social spheres, and they do so invarious ways. For example, John Reed says to Jane, "You have no business to take ourbooks: you are a dependent, mama says; … you ought to beg, and not live here withgentlemen's children like us, and eat the same meals we do, and wear clothes at ourmama's expense" (p. 11). He wants to separate Jane from himself by removing from hersome of the outward signs of their similarity. Similarly, Mrs. Reed also marginalizes Jane;Jane recalls, "[S]ince my illness she [Mrs. Reed] had drawn a more marked line ofseparation than ever between me and her own children; appointing me to a small closet tosleep in by myself, condemning me to take my meals alone, and pass all my time in thenursery while my cousins were constantly in the drawing-room" (pp. 26–27). By separatingJane from her own children, Mrs. Reed removes her from the Reeds' social group, placingJane instead among the servants. And when Jane falls ill during the red-room incident, Mrs.