Jane Eyre, a plain child with a vivid imagination, intelligence, and great talent in art and music. Left an orphan in childhood, she is forced to live with her Aunt Reed, who was the sister-in-law of her father. At the Reed home, she is mistreated and spurned, and she is finally sent to a charity home for girls. Her education completed, she teaches at the school for several years and then takes a position as a private governess to the ward of Mr. Rochester. After a strange, tempestuous courtship, she and Mr. Rochester are to be married, but the revelation that his insane first wife still lives prevents the wedding. After each has suffered many hardships, Jane and Mr. Rochester are eventually married.
Edward Fairfax Rochester
Edward Fairfax Rochester, a gentleman of thirty-five, the proud, sardonic, moody master of Thornfield. Before Jane Eyre’s arrival to become a governess in his household, he visits Thornfield only occasionally. After he falls in love with Jane, much of his moroseness disappears. When they are separated because the presence of his insane wife becomes known, Mr. Rochester remains at Thornfield. His wife sets fire to the house, and Mr. Rochester loses his eyesight and the use of an arm during the conflagration, in which his wife dies. Summoned, she believes, by his call, Jane Eyre returns a short time later, and the two are married.
Adele Varens, the illegitimate daughter of Mr. Rochester and a French opera singer, his ward upon her mother’s death. She is pale, small-featured, extremely feminine, and not especially talented.
Mrs. Fairfax, the elderly housekeeper at Thornfield. She is extremely kind to Jane and is delighted that she and Mr. Rochester are to be married.
Grace Poole, a stern woman with a hard, plain face, supposedly a seamstress at Thornfield but actually the keeper of mad Mrs. Rochester. Occasionally, she tipples too much and neglects her post.
Bertha Mason Rochester
Bertha Mason Rochester, Mr. Rochester’s insane wife, kept in secret on an upper floor at Thornfield. She had lied and her family had lied when Mr. Rochester met her in Jamaica while traveling, for she was even then demented. During Jane’s stay at Thornfield, Mrs. Rochester tries to burn her husband in bed. Finally, she burns the whole house and herself, and seriously injures her husband.
Mrs. Reed, an exact, clever, managing woman, the guardian of Jane Eyre. She hates her charge, however, misuses her, and locks her in dark rooms for punishment. At her death, she repents of her actions. Her children turn out badly.
Eliza Reed, her older daughter, a penurious, serious girl who eventually becomes a nun.
John Reed, the son, a wicked child who torments Jane Eyre and then blames her for his own bad deeds. He ends up as a drunk in London and dies in disgrace.
Georgiana Reed, the younger daughter, a pretty, spoiled child who later becomes very fat. She makes a poor marriage.
Bessie Leaven, Mrs. Reed’s governess, pretty, capricious, hasty-tempered. Before Jane Eyre leaves the Reed house, Bessie has become fond of her.
Robert Leaven, Bessie’s husband and Mrs. Reed’s coachman.
Abbot, the Reed’s bad-tempered maid.
Mr. Lloyd, an apothecary called in when Jane Eyre becomes sick and feverish after having been locked in a dark room. He suggests that she be sent off to school.
Mr. Brocklehurst, a strict clergyman and the master of Lowood School. He forces the girls to wear short, uncurled hair and plain wrappers, and he feeds them on a starvation diet.
Maria Temple, the supervisor of Lowood School, a pretty, kind woman who tries against tremendous odds to make her pupils’ lot as easy and pleasant as possible. She is interested in Jane Eyre’s talents and is responsible for her getting a teaching position later at Lowood.
Miss Scratcherd, and
Miss Miller, teachers at Lowood School.
Helen Burns, a clever thirteen-year-old pupil at Lowood School, constantly ridiculed and punished by her teachers because she is not neat and prompt. She dies during a fever epidemic.
Miss Gryce, a fat teacher at Lowood School and Jane Eyre’s roommate when they both teach there.
Mary Ann Wilson
Mary Ann Wilson, one of Jane Eyre’s fellow students, a witty and original girl.
Leah, the house servants at Thornfield Hall.
Sophie, the French maid.
Mrs. Eshton, a guest at a house party given by Mr. Rochester. Once a handsome woman, she still has a well-preserved style.
Mr. Eshton, her husband, a magistrate of the district.
Amy Eshton, their older daughter, rather small, naïve, and childlike in manner.
Louisa Eshton, the younger daughter, a taller and more elegant young woman.
Lady Lynn, another woman whose family is invited to the Thornfield house party; she is large, stout, haughty-looking, and richly dressed.
Mrs. Dent, another guest, less showy than the others, with a slight figure and a pale, gentle face.
Colonel Dent, her husband, a soldierly gentleman.
The Dowager Lady Ingram
The Dowager Lady Ingram, another guest, a proud, handsome woman with hard, fierce eyes.
Blanche Ingram, her daughter, a young woman with an elegant manner and a loud, satirical laugh, to whom Mr. Rochester is reported engaged.
Mary Ingram, her sister.
Henry Lynn and
Frederick Lynn, gentlemen at the party, two dashing sparks.
Lord Ingram, Blanche’s brother, a tall, handsome young man of listless appearance and manner.
Mr. Mason, Mr. Rochester’s brother-in-law. During a visit to see his sister, she wounds him severely. He halts the marriage of Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester.
Diana Rivers and
Mary Rivers, daughters of the family with which Jane Eyre takes refuge after running away from Thornfield. They turn out to be her cousins, their mother having been Jane’s aunt. At first they do not know that Jane is a relative because she calls herself Jane Eliot.
St. John Rivers
St. John Rivers, their brother, a complex religious-minded man who wishes to marry Jane but plans to live with her in platonic fashion while they devote their lives to missionary work in India.
Hannah, the Rivers’ housekeeper, a suspicious but kind woman.
Rosamund Oliver, a beautiful, kind heiress, the sponsor of the school in which St. John Rivers finds Jane a post. Miss Oliver is coquettish and vain, but she holds real affection for Rivers.
Mr. Oliver, her father, a tall, massive-featured man.
Alice Wood, an orphan, one of Jane’s pupils in the school where she teaches after leaving Thornfield.