At a Glance

  • Jane Eyre is the self-reliant and strong-willed heroine of Jane Eyre. Throughout the novel, she narrates her emotional growth from childhood to adulthood. Jane struggles to find her place in society and feels constrained by the expectations she faces as a woman. She marries Mr. Rochester.  

  • Edward Fairfax Rochester is moody, aggressive, and complex. He is Jane’s love interest and kindred spirit. Mr. Rochester attempts to marry Jane while harboring his first wife, who has gone insane, in his attic at Thornfield. He marries Jane after a house fire kills his first wife and leaves him blind and injured.

  • Bertha Mason Rochester is Mr. Rochester’s first wife. They were arranged to marry by Mr. Rochester’s father but were entirely incompatible, and Bertha began to show signs of madness. She was taken by Mr. Rochester from Jamaica to England, where she was locked alone in the attic at Thornfield.

  • Adele Varens is Mr. Rochester’s ward. Mr. Rochester had an affair with her mother, Celine Varens. Jane is hired to be Adele’s governess.

  • St. John Rivers is Jane’s cousin. He and his sisters care for Jane when they find her sickly and dying on the Moors. St. John helps Jane become a teacher and later offers to marry Jane and take her along on a missionary trip to India.

  • Mr. Mason is Bertha Rochester’s older brother. Bertha stabs him when he visits Thornfield. Later, he stops Jane and Mr. Rochester’s wedding by revealing Mr. Rochester’s extant marriage to Bertha.

  • Mrs. Reed is Jane’s cruel and petty aunt. She never wanted Jane, and she is impatient and unkind to her, consistently putting her down and ensuring that Jane’s life is unprosperous.

  • John Eyre is Jane’s only living relative. When John asks to adopt Jane, Mrs. Reed lies to him, telling him Jane has died. John passes away, leaving his fortune to Jane and the Rivers family.

  • Maria Temple is Jane’s teacher and the supervisor of Lowood Boarding School. She takes the role of surrogate mother for Jane, even helping her become a teacher at Lowood.

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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

(The entire section is 3,385 words.)