Jane Eyre Characters
The main characters in Jane Eyre are Jane Eyre, Edward Fairfax Rochester, Bertha Mason Rochester, Adele Varens, and St. John Rivers.
Jane Eyre is the heroine of the novel. She is orphaned at a young age and struggles to find her place in the world.
Edward Fairfax Rochester is Jane's employer and eventual husband. Jane initially rejects his proposal, but later marries him after he is injured in a fire.
Bertha Mason Rochester is Mr. Rochester’s first wife, who is regarded as a madwoman.
Adele Varens is Mr. Rochester’s ward. Jane is hired to be Adele’s governess.
St. John Rivers is Jane’s devoutly religious cousin.
Last Updated on February 25, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 426
Jane is a calm, intelligent, and reflective woman who, throughout Jane Eyre, grows spiritually and emotionally with every life event. Due to the untimely death of her parents, Jane is placed into the hands of her aunt, Mrs. Reed. Unwanted and mistreated by Mrs. Reed, Jane experiences traumatic events throughout her childhood. She is abused by her cousins, who, at the guidance of their mother, dislike and disparage Jane. When Jane is attacked by her cousin John, Mrs. Reed blames Jane for inciting him and punishes her by locking her in the “red room” where Mr. Reed died. This causes Jane to become very ill. The apothecary, Mr. Lloyd, convinces Mrs. Reed to send Jane to Lowood Boarding School—a school for orphans—which Mrs. Reed believes is fitting for Jane’s “position and prospects.” In her last attempt to hurt Jane, Mrs. Reed tells the school’s headmaster, Mr. Brocklehurst, that Jane is a liar. (Read extended character analysis of Jane.)
Edward Fairfax Rochester
Edward Fairfax Rochester, or Mr. Rochester, is introduced as a good landowner and a well-liked man. He is a “peculiar character,” as described by his housekeeper, Mrs. Fairfax. Mr. Rochester is described as average looking, with a heavy brow and dark features. He is not traditionally heroic or handsome, but this allows him to be more approachable. However, Mr. Rochester is, upon further observation, more difficult than approachable; when he invites Jane to tea, he is gruff and irritable. Despite his dourness, Mr. Rochester admits to having thought of fairytales when he first encountered Jane along the road. Similarly, Jane reflected on the fairytale of the “Gytrash” as she saw his approaching horse and dog. At first, Mr. Rochester aggressively interrogates Jane about her past, her parents, and her skills, and he blames her for felling his horse the previous day. (Read extended character analysis of Mr. Rochester.)
Bertha Mason Rochester
Bertha Mason Rochester is Mr. Rochester’s wife throughout most of Jane Eyre. Mr. Rochester’s father had arranged and pushed Mr. Rochester to marry her in an effort to gain money and status. However, Mr. Rochester was unaware of the monetary gain until after he had married her. Bertha is from Jamaica and is described as having been “tall, dark, and majestic.” During Mr. Rochester’s visit to Jamaica, he was quickly courted by her and was encouraged to marry her by both of their families. He married her without getting to know her and soon found that he did not love her. (Read extended character analysis of Bertha Rochester.)
Last Updated on January 17, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 729
Mrs. Reed, Jane Eyre’s aunt, is forced to take in Jane due to the last wish of her deceased husband. She did not want to take Jane in and is cruel to her. Mrs. Reed believes Jane belongs in a lower social position than she and her children do. Therefore she ostracizes Jane. Mrs. Reed is described as robust and solid, with a “constitution [as] sound as a bell.” Mrs. Reed’s authority is undermined by her children, but otherwise she is a strong and sure manager of her household. When Jane confronts her for her last act of cruelty—telling the boarding school headmaster that Jane was “deceitful”—Mrs. Reed surprisingly shows signs of fear. Jane represents the unknown and uncontrollable in Mrs. Reed’s life, and Mrs. Reed makes sure Jane leaves for Lowood soon after their confrontation.
Near the end of Jane Eyre, Mrs. Reed’s children have grown into unkind adults. When she is on her deathbed, she asks Jane to come and visit. When Jane arrives, Mrs. Reed is unable to apologize for her actions, but she does admit to Jane that when a letter arrived from Jane’s relative, John Eyre, she lied to him and told him that Jane had passed away at Lowood, in the hopes that Jane would not receive family or fortune. From throwing Jane into the “red room” to lying about her one connection to a family heir, Mrs. Reed changes Jane’s fate with her cruel intentions. However, Jane is able to persevere and grow from her mistreatment, and in the end Jane emerges as a well-rounded and intelligent woman.
Eliza is Mrs. Reed’s oldest daughter. She takes part in tormenting the young Jane and is described as headstrong and selfish. Despite her unsavory character, Eliza is respected by her family. To Jane, Eliza represents a character who somehow garners respect from her family—but undeservingly so.
John is Mrs. Reed’s oldest son. He attacks Jane and is the catalyst for Jane’s departure to Lowood Boarding School. He is described as large, ill-mannered, and tyrannical. His mother, Mrs. Reed, loves and spoils him. Although John kills birds and plants, disrespects his mother, and sets the dogs on the sheep, he is never punished. To Jane, John represents an evil which has never received deserving punishment. His wickedness persists, because he hides behind the protection of his mother’s unconditional love.
Georgiana is Mrs. Reed’s youngest daughter. She joins her siblings in tormenting young Jane. She is described as beautiful, but she is also acrid, spiteful, and spoiled. Georgiana is treated well and indulged by those around her. To Jane, Georgiana is an example of a person rewarded for her beauty, despite exhibiting reprehensible attributes.
Bessie Leaven is Mrs. Reed’s governess. Bessie is kind to Jane, and although she has little control in helping her, she still manages to give Jane reassuring words. Bessie cares for Jane while she is ill.
Robert is Bessie’s husband and Mrs. Reed’s coachman. He brings Jane to Mrs. Reed when she is on her deathbed.
Abbot is Bessie’s maid. She is described as bitter.
John Eyre is Jane’s uncle. Unbeknownst to Jane, John was Jane’s only living relative. It is revealed by Mrs. Reed that John offered to adopt Jane; however, Mrs. Reed lied to John that Jane had passed away from typhus while at Lowood.
John Eyre is also related to the Rivers. When he passes away, his fortune of 30,000 pounds is passed onto Jane, which she then shares with the Rivers.
Mr. Lloyd is the apothecary that Mrs. Reed calls on to treat her servants when they are ill. When Jane falls ill, Mrs. Reed calls on him instead of a physician. After conversing with Jane, Mr. Lloyd understands that Jane needs to leave Gateshead Hall to feel better. He convinces Mrs. Reed to send Jane to a boarding school.
When Mr. Brocklehurst publicly accuses Jane of being a liar, Maria Temple asks Jane to defend herself against the claim. Maria sends a letter to Mr. Lloyd asking him if Jane’s story is true. He supports Jane’s account, which helps Jane have a more successful time at the boarding school.
Last Updated on January 17, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 795
Mr. Brocklehurst is a clergyman and the headmaster of the Lowood Boarding School. In his first interaction with Jane, he interviews her about her religious knowledge. He is offended to hear that Jane doesn’t like the Psalms, and when Mrs. Reed claims that Jane is a deceitful child, he takes it to heart and warns Jane against acting in such a manner.
Mr. Brocklehurst is a strict schoolmaster, and he forces the schoolgirls to wear plain clothing. He believes that long hair is a sign of vanity and that if he doesn’t keep the girls as plain as possible, they will succumb to the “lusts of the flesh.” Mr. Brocklehurst is cruelly strict, and when Jane accidentally makes a loud noise near him, he forces her to stand in front of all the girls. He alienates her and tells everyone that she is deceitful and already taken by sin. However, Mr. Brocklehurst unintentionally helps Jane, because his actions force her to find refuge in the other girls, especially Helen Burns.
Maria Temple is the superintendent of Lowood. She is impressive and refined, and Jane is awed by her when they first meet. Maria takes the place of a surrogate mother to Jane. She is very kind to her, and she helps her get a teaching position at Lowood. Maria puts much effort into making sure the girls are comfortable at the school, going so far as to provide them with food when the school makes food the girls cannot eat.
Maria Temple is described by Helen as someone who can only do good. She is kind and forgiving, and when Mr. Brocklehurst accuses Jane of being a liar, Maria invites Jane to her room to tell her side of the story. By allowing Jane to defend herself, Maria shows Jane humanity and respect. Maria is also loving towards Helen, whom she holds a special regard for. When Maria receives a letter back from Mr. Lloyd, who corroborates Jane’s story and proves that she is not a liar, Jane is able to feel free and loved in the school. From then on she becomes very successful and works hard, all due to Maria’s efforts.
When Maria Temple marries and leaves Lowood, Jane feels that there is no reason to be at the boarding school any longer. Maria played the role of mother, governess, and companion, and without her, Lowood is no longer a home to Jane.
Helen Burns attends Lowood Boarding School with Jane Eyre. She is partially an orphan, as her mother died, and she explains to Jane the ways of the “charity school” that is Lowood. Helen shows a great deal of dignity and composure. Even while she is being punished by the teachers, she does not show weakness. Jane cannot understand why Helen doesn’t fight back against the punishments and cruelty of certain teachers, but Helen teaches Jane that staying at the school for an education is a higher priority than fighting back and being expelled. She tells Jane that “the bible bids us return good for evil.”
When Jane and Helen first meet, Helen counters Jane’s conviction that evil should be fought back with evil. Helen firmly believes in being good to those who are unkind to you; she does not believe in revenge, or in harboring hate for another. This way of thinking is new to Jane and allows her to grow as a person. When Mr. Brocklehurst accuses Jane of being a liar, Helen is the first to comfort her. Helen explains that most people dislike Mr. Brocklehurst and that being publicly punished by him would only elicit pity, not hate. Helen has a close relationship with Maria Temple, and Maria gives special care to her.
Helen and Jane become close friends during their time at Lowood. However, Helen becomes ill and dies of the flu. The morning before Helen dies, Jane breaks curfew to visit her room. Jane stays with Helen all night, and Helen assures Jane that she is ready to die, and that dying young is in its own way a blessing. When Jane wakes in the morning, Helen is dead. Helen’s gravestone later reads, “Resurgam,” meaning “I shall rise again.”
Miss Miller is an under-teacher at Lowood boarding school. She is always in a hurry, and she is described as ordinary with a “ruddy complexion.”
Miss Scatcherd is a strict, put-together, and punctual teacher at Lowood. She is often cruel and punishes Helen Burns for not exhibiting similar traits of organization and neatness.
Mrs. Harden is the housekeeper at Lowood. She is described as being “after Mr. Brocklehurst’s own heart” and is a hard, stoical woman.
Last Updated on January 17, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1106
Grace Poole is a servant at Thornfield who Mr. Rochester apparently blames for Bertha Rochester’s many noises and actions. Grace is described as stately and somber. Her outward appearance is dull, which to Jane is an odd contrast to the jilting laughter she thinks Grace emits behind closed doors.
It is later revealed that Grace Poole was hired by Mr. Rochester to care of Bertha Rochester and to keep Bertha a secret from others. Both Mrs. Fairfax and Mr. Rochester Blame Grace Poole for Bertha’s actions throughout the novel. Near the end, it is revealed to Jane that Grace is actually a well-paid caretaker for Bertha.
Adele is Mr. Rochester’s ward. She is the young girl for whom Jane is hired as a governess. Mr. Rochester had an affair with Celine Varens, Adele’s French mother. Obligated to care for Adele, Mr. Rochester takes her to England. Adele speaks fluent French and broken English. Jane is educated in French, however, and is able to understand her. Adele is at first excitable, sharing with Jane songs and poetry that her mother taught her in France. When Jane begins to teach her, she finds that Adele is docile but unprepared for rigorous learning. Jane decides to start slowly with her education so as to not overwhelm her.
Adele was overindulged previously, but Jane is able to make an obedient and good student out of her. Jane finds that she is an ordinary child, in both intelligence and motivation. Adele likes Jane, and the two get along well.
Mrs. Fairfax is the kind housekeeper of Thornfield Hall. She is distantly related to Mr. Rochester, the cousin of Mr. Rochester’s mother. She answers Jane’s advertisement in the paper and hires Jane as governess for Adele Varens. Upon meeting Jane, Mrs. Fairfax treats her well and expresses happiness at finally having equal company. She also claims that Jane will bring more happiness to Thornfield. Jane immediately likes her.
When Jane discovers that Mrs. Fairfax does not own Thornfield—at first, Jane did not know she was the housekeeper—Jane feels as though Mrs. Fairfax is on her same social level. They are both lower class, but are in positions of relative control: Jane is an educated governess and Mrs. Fairfax, as a housekeeper, is in control of Thornfield. Jane’s interpretation of Mrs. Fairfax’s societal level is a reflection of how Jane views herself socially. She is glad to be free of any condescension, knowing that she and Mrs. Fairfax are “equals.”
Furthermore, Mr. Rochester claims to have never told Mrs. Fairfax about Bertha. Even if Mrs. Fairfax suspected that Mr. Rochester was keeping such a secret, she is careful not to reveal anything to Jane.
Sophie is the French nurse who cares for Adele Varens.
Mrs. Eshton is a handsome, older, upper-class woman. She is mother to Louisa and Amy Eshton. She is Mr. Rochester’s guest at Thornfield.
Mr. Eshton is Mrs. Eshton’s husband and is the local district magistrate. He is a guest of Mr. Rochester’s.
Louisa Eshton is Mrs. Eshton’s younger daughter. She is tall and elegant and is a guest of Mr. Rochester’s.
Amy Eshton is Mrs. Eshton’s older daughter. She is petite, naive, and lively. She is Mr. Rochester’s guest.
Lady Lynn is a haughty, stout forty-year-old woman. She is richly and extravagantly dressed. To Jane, she represents the overdone bravado of the wealthy class. She is Mr. Rochester’s guest.
Sir George Lynn
Sir George Lynn is a politician of Millcote and is Mr. Rochester’s guest.
Henry is Lady Lynn’s and Sir George Lynn’s son. He is tall and dashing and is Mr. Rochester’s guest.
Frederick Lynn is Lady Lynn’s and Sir George Lynn’s other son. He, like Henry, is handsome and affable. He is Mr. Rochester’s guest.
Mrs. Colonel Dent
Mrs. Colonel Dent is a fair, ladylike woman. To Jane, she is more pleasant than Lady Lynn, in that she is gentle and unshowy in dress. She is a guest of Mr. Rochester’s.
Colonel Dent is Mrs. Colonel Dent’s husband and a guest of Mr. Rochester’s.
Dowager Lady Ingram
The Dowager Lady Ingram is a woman between forty and fifty who has aged well. She holds herself with haughtiness and pride and speaks in such a way that Jane describes as “intolerably pompous.” Jane finds her similar to Mrs. Reed. The Dowager Lady Ingram is Mr. Rochester’s guest.
Blanche is the Dowager Lady Ingram’s daughter. Blanche is similar to the Dowager in looks in that she, too, is haughty and prideful. However, she has a satirical nature, and her pride is less somber. Despite her name—blanche being French for “white”—her skin is darker than her sister’s and mother’s. Blanche is decidedly well-rounded and educated. She is conscious of her intelligence and shows it off to others. She is a guest of Mr. Rochester’s.
Blanche is also Mr. Rochester’s supposed marriage interest. However, he does not love her and he only uses Blanche as a way to instigate Jane.
Mary Ingram is the Lady Dowager’s daughter. Mary, unlike Blanche, is mild and fair. Mary, “lacks life” and does not interact or say much to others. She is Mr. Rochester’s guest.
Lord Ingram is Blanche and Mary’s brother. He is tall, handsome, and careless. He is a guest of Mr. Rochester’s.
Mr. Mason is Bertha Mason’s older brother. Mr. Mason unexpectedly arrives at Thornfield during Mr. Rochester’s party, upsetting Mr. Rochester. In the middle of the night during Mr. Mason’s stay at Thornfield, he is found stabbed. Jane helps care for Mr. Mason’s wound while Mr. Rochester fetches the surgeon and doctor, Mr. Carter. It is revealed later that Mr. Mason’s sister, Bertha, stabbed him.
Mr. Mason is also responsible for stopping the wedding between Jane and Mr. Rochester. He reveals the truth about Mr. Rochester’s marriage to Bertha. This revelation causes Jane to leave Mr. Rochester for a time. Mr. Rochester, who dislikes Mr. Mason, suggests that, like his family members, Mr. Mason lacks cognitive ability.
Mr. Carter is Mr. Rochester’s surgeon and doctor, whom he hires to care for Bertha. Mr. Carter is, along with Grace Poole, the only person with whom Mr. Rochester shares his secret about Bertha.
Last Updated on January 17, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 326
St. John Rivers
St. John Rivers is Mary and Diana’s brother and Jane’s cousin. He is described as good looking, much like his sisters, but, despite his attractive face, he comes across as restless, hard, and stern. He is a devout clergyman and wishes to travel and do missionary work in India. He finds a capable companion in Jane, and, although he does not love her romantically, he offers to marry her and asks her to join him on his mission. St. John is responsible for setting Jane up as a teacher at an orphan’s school in Morton.
Mary is an intelligent and pretty woman, although she is reserved and quiet compared to her sister, Diana. She is kind to Jane but keeps her distance. It is later revealed that Mary is Jane’s cousin.
Diana is a lovely and charming woman and is Mary Rivers’ sister. She is very warm and kind towards Jane. It is later revealed that Diana is Jane’s cousin.
Hannah is the servant to the Rivers family. Although at first cold and prejudiced toward Jane, she warms up to Jane and explains to her the circumstances of the Rivers family. Hannah helps Mary and Diana Rivers nurse Jane back to health.
Rosamund Oliver is a sponsor of the orphan’s school where Jane works during her time in the Moors. Rosamund is an heiress and a kind woman. However, she can also be somewhat conceited. Rosamund shows an affection for St. John Rivers, but he does not return her affection. St. John does not believe she is capable of joining him on his missions to India, and he asks Jane instead.
Mr. Oliver is Rosamund’s slightly foreboding father.
Alice Wood is Jane’s pupil at the school where Jane teaches in the Moors. Jane grows close to Alice and allows her to be her assistant.
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