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In literary terms, a foil is a character in a story who is markedly different from the protagonist. Foils are used in order to spotlight the characteristics of the principal character. In Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte has created two significant foils in order to highlight Jane’s persona.

Firstly is Jane’s cousin Georgina Reed. Georgina is pretty, selfish, and vain. She spends much of her time in front of a mirror and dressing up. Like her mother and her two siblings, Georgina does not think of Jane as part of the family and treats her like a servant. Later in the novel, even Georgina’s sister Eliza describes Georgina disparagingly:

You must be admired, you must be courted, you must be flattered - you must have music, dancing, and society - or you languish away.

The second foil is Mr. Rochester’s friend Blanche Ingram. Unlike Jane, Blanche Ingram is vibrant and beautiful. She uses her looks in an attempt to seduce the wealthy Mr. Rochester. Where Jane is modest, Blanche is obvious in her seduction. Jane holds this internal monologue about her behavior:

Surely she cannot truly like him...If she did, she need not coin her smiles so lavishly; flash her glances so unremittingly; manufacture airs so elaborate, graces so multitudinous.

Through Charlotte Bronte’s portrayal of Georgina Reed and Blanche Ingram, Jane is seen as a modest, caring, and honest character, uninterested in money or superficialities.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
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