Study Guide

Bessie in Jane Eyre - Who Is Bessie in Jane Eyre?

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Bessie is Jane’s childhood nursemaid; she’s not exactly perfect, because she has a hot temper and behaves pretty inconsistently to Jane (sometimes bringing her treats, sometimes punishing her for nothing at all with a smack, sometimes forgetting her completely for a bit), but she’s the closest thing Jane has to a mother or an ally when she’s living at Gateshead.

For a minor character, Bessie is actually considerably developed; we see her compassion, her impatience, her temper, and her affection for Jane all at once. One result of this well-rounded characterization of a servant early in the novel is to prepare us for the idea that class status doesn’t necessarily have a direct relationship to importance or complexity in Jane Eyre; the lady of the house might be a flat, boring character, while her maid could be the really interesting one.

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