Bessie Lee is the Reeds and Jane’s nursemaid at Gateshead in the novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. She is a pretty, slim young woman, with “black hair, dark eyes, very nice features, and good, clear complexion” (Chapter 4, 21). After Jane leaves Gateshead, Bessie marries Robert Leaven, the coachman at Gateshead, and they have three children together – one of whom is named after Jane.
Bessie is a strict woman who has a temper. She disciplines Jane when Mrs Reed demands it, and is quick to point out Jane’s faults. At the same time, some of Bessie’s criticisms of Jane might come from a wish to ensure Jane continues to have good living conditions: “ ‘You ought to be aware, Miss, that you are under obligations to Mrs Reed: she keeps you: if she were to turn you off, you would have to go to the poorhouse.’ ” (Chapter 2, 11%)
Bessie is also kind to Jane. She sings and tells her stories and comforts her when she is sad:
she would tuck the clothes round me, and twice she kissed me, and said, ‘Good night, Miss Jane.’ When thus gentle, Bessie seemed to me the best, prettiest, kindest being in the world; and I wished most intensely that she would always be so pleasant and amiable, and never push me about, or scold (Chapter 4, 17%)