You have no business to take our books; you are a dependant, mama says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not to live here with gentlemen’s children like us, and ear the same meals we do, and wear clothes at our mama’s expense. Now, I’ll teach you to rummage my book-shelves: for they are mine; all the house belongs to me, or will do in a few years.
– Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre, Chapter 1. As Jane takes refuge from her cruel aunt and cousins in a book on British birds, John Reed tells her that she has no business taking the family books. He torments her for being of a social lower class. He says that she is only in the house on account of his mother Mrs. Reed’s charity. John, himself a child of 14, is obviously parroting his mother’s words when he calls Jane a “dependant.” The upper class Reed family isolate Jane and treat her as an outcast because she is poor. John uses his position as sole male heir to harass Jane, pointing out that he effectively owns everything at Gateshead, as he will inherit it in a few years.