Jane Eyre Summary

Jane Eyre is a novel by Charlotte Brontë about an orphaned young woman in nineteenth-century England.

  • Jane Eyre grows up with cruel relatives before being sent to boarding school at Lowood.
  • Later, Jane becomes a governess at Thornfield, the home of Edward Rochester, with whom she falls in love. Rochester asks Jane to marry him, but she learns that Rochester already has a wife, who is mad and kept locked in the attic.
  • Jane flees but eventually returns to find that Rochester's wife has died in the process of burning down Thornfield, and Rochester has been blinded. Jane and Rochester reconcile and marry.

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Jane Eyre begins at Gateshead Hall, where a young orphan named Jane Eyre lives with her aunt, Mrs. Reed, and three cousins. Though Jane’s relations are wealthy, they are incredibly cruel and never let her forget that she only avoids poverty through their charity. As the relationship between Jane and the Reeds deteriorates, Mrs. Reed decides to send Jane away to Lowood school. Before Jane leaves, Mrs. Reed warns Mr. Brocklehurst (the manager of Lowood) that Jane is a liar, and he promises not to forget it. Offended by her aunt’s deceit, Jane vows never to forgive her.

The conditions at Lowood are very harsh. Mr. Brocklehurst is cruel and hypocritical, forcing the students to remain humble by making their own clothes and sharing beds while his own daughters live in luxury. The girls are given meager portions of often inedible food, and the school itself is freezing. Despite these difficulties, Jane manages to find a friend in Helen Burns, a fellow student. When Helen later dies during a typhus outbreak at the school, Jane is devastated. After the typhus epidemic, the unsanitary and grim condition of the school is publicly revealed, and Lowood is put under new management. Jane stays at the school for six more years as a student and two years as a teacher before setting off for a new job as a governess at Thornfield Hall.

At Thornfield, Jane’s pupil is a young French girl named Adèle. Adèle is the ward of Mr. Edward Rochester, the often-absent owner of Thornfield. When Jane finally meets Mr. Rochester , she is intrigued by his quirky personality and blunt way of speaking. Likewise, Mr. Rochester is fascinated by Jane’s honesty and strong convictions. Strange events occur during Jane’s stay at Thornfield: eerie laughs can be heard at night, a mysterious fire is started, and a guest is even stabbed. Mr. Rochester begins to court a local beauty named Blanche Ingram, upsetting Jane, who now recognizes that she has feelings for him. Jane briefly returns to Gateshead to visit the dying Mrs. Reed and learns that she has an uncle, John Eyre, who is looking for her. To Jane’s surprise, shortly after she returns to Thornfield, Mr. Rochester proposes to her rather...

(The entire section is 641 words.)