Jane Eyre Characters
by Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre book cover
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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.

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Characters

Jane Eyre

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.)

At Gateshead Hall

Mrs. Reed

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...

(The entire section is 3,382 words.)