The references to Jane's physical attributes seem to suggest inner qualities. Give examples of characters whose looks correspond to personality.The references to Jane's physical attributes seem to...

The references to Jane's physical attributes seem to suggest inner qualities. Give examples of characters whose looks correspond to personality.

The references to Jane's physical attributes seem to suggest inner qualities. Give examples of characters whose looks correspond to personality.

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rhetorike eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The author who leaps to mind, who makes use of physical characteristics to bespeak inner qualities, is Charles Dickens. For example, Uriah Heep, in "David Copperfield," is an unctuous, greasy man, and his personal habits and manner of behavior and dress tells the reader everything we need to know to understand who we're dealing with. Dickens does this quite a bit; in fact, it was a trend with the Romantics and the Realists, to portray their characters in certain clothing, their faces beautiful if there was inner beauty, and flawed to reveal character flaws (think of what happens to Rochester because he lied to Jane; he becomes disfigured, a Romantic's way of telling us his soul is damaged). It really isn't until we get to the Modernists that an attempt is made to mess with this notion that the face and physiognomy says less about a character than his inner monologue, and in fact, physical description becomes less important to our understanding of a character than the discussion of his or her interior world.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To add to gplatt, St. John Rivers, of course, is one of those characters whose personality matches his description. Interestingly he is described in similar rigid terms to Brocklehurst, but using white instead of black. Hence he is described as "marble" and elsewhere as a "glacier". Both sets of descriptions seem to comment more on the character´s attitude and response to religion.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think of Adele.  She is pretty enough at the beginning of the novel when we first meet her; as she flourishes and blossoms in the love and discipline she receives from the ladies of Thornfield, though, she becomes more beautiful on the outside.  Her outward change is directly correlated to the inward growth which happens when she is held accountable and allowed to create. 

gplatt | Student

Well, the obvious ones in Jane Eyre include, of course, Brocklehurst, who is described early in the novel as a "black pillar" with a "white mask" for a capital.  In this case, what you see is what you get.  There is also Blanche Ingram, who looks like a Victorian lady (pretty, fair), and who turns out to be a lady who is searching for what society tells her she must have (a wealthy man who can take care of her).