protagonist and narrator of the novel, Jane is an intelligent, honest,
plain-featured young girl forced to contend with oppression, inequality,
and hardship. Although she meets with a series of individuals who threaten
her autonomy, Jane repeatedly succeeds at asserting herself and
maintains her principles of justice, human dignity, and morality.
She also values intellectual and emotional fulfillment. Her strong
belief in gender and social equality challenges the Victorian prejudices
against women and the poor.
in-depth analysis of Jane Eyre.
- Jane’s employer and the master of Thornfield, Rochester
is a wealthy, passionate man with a dark secret that provides much
of the novel’s suspense. Rochester is unconventional, ready to set
aside polite manners, propriety, and consideration of social class
in order to interact with Jane frankly and directly. He is rash
and impetuous and has spent much of his adult life roaming about
Europe in an attempt to avoid the consequences of his youthful indiscretions.
His problems are partly the result of his own recklessness, but
he is a sympathetic figure because he has suffered for so long as
a result of his early marriage to Bertha.
in-depth analysis of Edward Rochester.
St. John Rivers
- Along with his sisters, Mary and Diana, St. John (pronounced
“Sinjin”) serves as Jane’s benefactor after she runs away from Thornfield,
giving her food and shelter. The minister at Morton, St. John is
cold, reserved, and often controlling in his interactions with others.
Because he is entirely alienated from his feelings and devoted solely
to an austere ambition, St. John serves as a foil to Edward Rochester.
in-depth analysis of St. John Rivers.
Reed is Jane’s cruel aunt, who raises her at Gateshead Hall until
Jane is sent away to school at age ten. Later in her life, Jane
attempts reconciliation with her aunt, but the old woman continues
to resent her because her husband had always loved Jane more than his
maid at Gateshead, Bessie is the only figure in Jane’s childhood
who regularly treats her kindly, telling her stories and singing
her songs. Bessie later marries Robert Leaven, the Reeds’ coachman.
Lloyd is the Reeds’ apothecary, who suggests that Jane be sent away
to school. Always kind to Jane, Mr. Lloyd writes a letter to Miss
Temple confirming Jane’s story about her childhood and clearing
Jane of Mrs. Reed’s charge that she is a liar.
Reed is Jane’s cousin and one of Mrs. Reed’s two daughters. The
beautiful Georgiana treats Jane cruelly when they are children,
but later in their lives she befriends her cousin and confides in
her. Georgiana attempts to elope with a man named Lord Edwin Vere,
but her sister, Eliza, alerts Mrs. Reed of the arrangement and sabotages
the plan. After Mrs. Reed dies, Georgiana marries a wealthy man.
Reed is Jane’s cousin and one of Mrs. Reed’s
two daughters (along with her sister, Georgiana).
Not as beautiful as her sister, Eliza devotes herself somewhat self-righteously
to the church and eventually goes to a convent in France where she
becomes the Mother Superior.
Reed is Jane’s cousin, Mrs. Reed’s son, and brother to Eliza and
Georgiana. John treats Jane with appalling cruelty during their
childhood and later falls into a life of drinking and gambling.
John commits suicide midway through the novel when his mother ceases
to pay his debts for him.
Helen Burns is Jane’s close friend at the Lowood School. She endures
her miserable life there with a passive dignity that Jane cannot
understand. Helen dies of consumption in Jane’s arms.
in-depth analysis of Helen Burns.
- The cruel, hypocritical master of the Lowood School,
Mr. Brocklehurst preaches a doctrine of privation, while stealing
from the school to support his luxurious lifestyle. After a typhus
epidemic sweeps Lowood, Brocklehurst’s shifty and dishonest practices are
brought to light and he is publicly discredited.
Temple is a kind teacher at Lowood, who treats Jane and Helen with
respect and compassion. Along with Bessie Lee, she serves as one
of Jane’s first positive female role models. Miss Temple helps clear Jane
of Mrs. Reed’s accusations against her.
sour and vicious teacher at Lowood, Miss Scatcherd behaves with
particular cruelty toward Helen.
Fairfax is the housekeeper at Thornfield Hall. She is the first
to tell Jane that the mysterious laughter often heard echoing through
the halls is, in fact, the laughter of Grace Poole—a lie that Rochester
himself often repeats.
clandestine wife, Bertha Mason is a formerly beautiful and wealthy
Creole woman who has become insane, violent, and bestial. She lives
locked in a secret room on the third story of Thornfield and is guarded
by Grace Poole, whose occasional bouts of inebriation sometimes
enable Bertha to escape. Bertha eventually burns down Thornfield,
plunging to her death in the flames.
Poole is Bertha Mason’s keeper at Thornfield, whose drunken carelessness
frequently allows Bertha to escape. When Jane first arrives at Thornfield,
Mrs. Fairfax attributes to Grace all evidence of
pupil at Thornfield, Adèle Varens is a lively though somewhat spoiled
child from France. Rochester brought her to Thornfield after her
mother, Celine, abandoned her. Although Celine was once Rochester’s mistress,
he does not believe himself to be Adèle’s father.
Varens is a French opera dancer with whom Rochester once had an
affair. Although Rochester does not believe Celine’s claims that
he fathered her daughter Adèle, he nonetheless brought the girl
to England when Celine abandoned her. Rochester had broken off his
relationship with Celine after learning that Celine was unfaithful
to him and interested only in his money.
is Adèle’s French nurse at Thornfield.
Mason is Bertha’s brother. During a
visit to Thornfield, he is injured by his mad sister.
After learning of Rochester’s intent to marry Jane, Mason arrives
with the solicitor Briggs in order to thwart the wedding and reveal
the truth of Rochester’s prior marriage.
Eyre’s attorney, Mr. Briggs helps Richard Mason prevent Jane’s wedding
to Rochester when he learns of the existence of Bertha Mason, Rochester’s
wife. After John Eyre’s death, Briggs searches for Jane in order
to give her her inheritance.
Ingram is a beautiful socialite who despises Jane and hopes to
marry Rochester for his money.
Rivers is Jane’s cousin, and the sister of St. John and Mary. Diana
is a kind and intelligent person, and she urges Jane not to go to
India with St. John. She serves as a model for Jane of an intellectually
gifted and independent woman.
Rivers is Jane’s cousin, the sister of St. John and Diana. Mary
is a kind and intelligent young woman who is forced to work as a
governess after her father loses his fortune. Like her sister, she
serves as a model for Jane of an independent woman who is also able
to maintain close relationships with others and a sense of meaning
in her life.
- Rosamond is the beautiful daughter of Mr. Oliver,
Morton’s wealthiest inhabitant. Rosamond gives money to the school
in Morton where Jane works. Although she is in love with St. John,
she becomes engaged to the wealthy Mr. Granby.
Eyre is Jane’s uncle, who leaves her his vast fortune of 20,000 pounds.
- Uncle Reed is Mrs. Reed’s late husband. In her childhood, Jane believes
that she feels the presence of his ghost. Because he was always
fond of Jane and her mother (his sister), Uncle Reed made his wife
promise that she would raise Jane as her own child. It is a promise
that Mrs. Reed does not keep.