Jane Eyre

Extended Character Analysis

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Jane Eyre is a calm, intelligent, and reflective woman who, throughout Charlotte Bronte's 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.

At Lowood, Mr. Brocklehurst keeps the school under strict conditions: he stresses religious adherence and gives plain clothing and meager food to the girls. When he sees Jane make a loud noise during his visit to the school, he places her on a stool and publicly shames her for being a “liar.” Despite this, Jane is still able to foster meaningful relationships with those around her, including her close friend Helen Burns. Helen left a great impression on Jane in their short time together, teaching her much about morality and kindness. Helen’s death is yet another example of the hardships Jane faces. Yet, Jane is successful in school, and with the care and attention of her teacher, Maria Temple, she becomes a teacher at Lowood. Jane’s early childhood, although filled with maltreatment, is the reason she grows to be such a steadfast character. Her traumatic experiences at her aunt’s home and in her school give Jane a complex, inward, and careful mind. She is able to understand how and why her aunt and cousins ostracized her for not fitting into their preconceived idea of what a child or person should be like. This background leads to Jane’s independence, self-reliance, and spiritual understanding of herself as an adult.

When Maria Temple leaves Lowood to marry, Jane decides that she, too, should leave. Jane desires liberty, but realizes it is unattainable. She instead settles with finding a new “servitude,” which leads her to become a governess at Thornfield. Due to her past, Jane expects little in life to be pleasant. She is thus surprised when Mrs. Fairfax, Thornfield’s housekeeper, is kind to her and treats her as a visitor. Thornfield, where Jane works as a governess, is home to the next stage of growth for Jane; she meets an equal in Mrs. Fairfax and develops as a governess to Adele Varens. Although she has a comfortable career surrounded by pleasant people, Jane still feels an inward desire to mingle with higher society and to experience more of the world. This desire reflects Jane’s struggle to fit in her given and expected place in society. From childhood to adulthood, Jane is trapped within the constraints that have been placed on her by others. She feels that “it is thoughtless to condemn [women], or laugh at [women], if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.” Jane is not only aware of gendered power differences; she also recognizes that, if the world were better, there would be room for a woman to be as liberated as she desires.

When Jane first meets the owner of Thornfield, Mr. Rochester , she feels that he is “changeful and abrupt,” and that Mrs. Fairfax did not do him justice by describing him as a “peculiar character.” Jane, however, has the resiliency and humor to deal with Mr. Rochester’s quirks, and she finds a kindred spirit in Mr. Rochester and grows to love him. Jane’s time at Thornfield is mostly spent teaching Adele and becoming better acquainted with Mr. Rochester. Her time...

(The entire section is 1,268 words.)