Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte

By: Samantha Boardman

Characters

Jane Eyre

Main character- Narrator of the novel


Jane is a plain looking, small, and understated young woman, but has a miraculous sense of self worth and meaning in her life. She grew up in a tormented childhood. Jane became an orphan at a very young age and was left in the care of her uncle, Mr. Reed. However, Mr. Reed died and made his pessimistic wife Mrs. Reed in charge of Jane. Mrs. Reed accused Jane of being a liar and evil girl for false accusations. After being sent away to an all girls boarding school called Lowood, Jane learned to draw and speak French, although her time there was tortuous. Jane grew to be a passionate, level minded woman trusting in God to fulfill her destiny. Eventually God leads her to Thornfield where she becomes a governess for a sweet young girl named Adele.


  • Forgiving
  • Intelligent
  • Loving
  • Faithful
  • Reserved
  • Honest
  • Passionate
  • Spiritual



Mr. Edward Rochester

Main character- Master of Thornfield


A mysterious man who remains flamboyant and blunt throughout a great majority of the novel. Until Jane's arrival at Thornfield, Mr. Rochester rarely spent any time at his home, always away on business trips. He found great joy in speaking with Jane because she was not simple minded such as all of his other employees at Thornfield. As the reader gets to know Mr. Rochester throughout the novel, it becomes more obvious that he is keeping something secret. As the novel progresses, Mr. Rochester starts to show more passion and personality to Miss Eyre as she falls in love with him. Jane loses sight of his faults as she falls more deeply in love with him.


  • Harsh
  • Honest
  • Passionate
  • Mysterious
  • Loving


"...with his broad and jetty eyebrows; his square forehead, made squarer by the horizontal sweep of his black hair. I recognized his decisive nose, more remarkable for character than beauty; his full nostrils, denoting, I thought choler; his grim mouth, chin, and jaw-- yes, all three were very grim, and no mistake..." (p. 121)


VS.


"...Strongly-marked horizontal eyebrows must be traced under that brow; then followed, naturally, a well-defined nose, with a straight ridge and full nostrils; then a flexible-looking mouth, by no means narrow; then a firm chin, with a decided cleft down the middle of it... Now for the eyes: I had left them to the last, because they required the most careful working. I drew them large, I shaped them well: the eyelashes I traced long and sombre the irids lustrous and large..." (p. 239)

St. John (Eyre) Rivers

Jane expresses John Rivers as a calloused and cold man. After Jane leaves Thornfield, she ends up in the Moor House with the River's family. Jane learns that she is distantly related to St. John Rivers, and he asks her to go away with him to India to be a missionary and be his wife. However, Jane turns down the proposal because she knows that they do not love eachother.


  • Spiritual
  • Faithful
  • Calloused
  • Cold

Mrs. Reed

Mrs. Reed is the widow of Mr. Reed, Jane's loving uncle. However, when Mr. Reed died, Mrs. Reed was tied down to a promise to take care of Jane as her own. Mrs. Reed hates Jane, and is a brutal and hateful woman. Mrs. Reed hated Jane so much that she sent her to a strict and cruel boarding school where Jane lived for eight years, and did nothing to keep in contact with her until she was on her death bed.


  • Calloused
  • Abusive
  • Angry
  • Neglectful


"...I hated it the first time eyes on it-- a sickly, whining, pining thing...but an hour before he died, he bound me by vow to keep the creature..." (Mrs. Reed's explanation of Jane) (p. 237)


Setting + Summary

Early 19th Century-Areas around England

Gateshead

Years spent at Gateshead: 10

Master of Gateshead: Mrs. Reed

Children: Georgiana Reed, John Reed, Eliza Reed

Important figures from Gateshead:

Bessie Lee: Bessie was the maid at Gateshead, and is the only loving individual in Jane's first 10 years of her life.

Mrs. Reed: Abused and neglected Jane.

John Reed: Physically and mentally abused Jane.


Significance of Gateshead:

At Gateshead, Jane was forced into deviant behaviors to protect herself from the harm of her abusive relatives. Despite her horrible childhood, Jane eventually went back to the place she feared the most when her Aunt Reed was on her death bed. God challenged Jane to forgive her family for the way they treated her, and Jane managed to release her anger and hatred for those who wronged her most.

Lowood School

Years spent at Lowood: 8

Master of School: Mr. Brocklehurst

Important figures from Lowood:

Helen Burns: Helen was a fellow student at Gateshead who taught Jane what it truly meant to forgive and let God lead your life. She introduced Jane to God, and played a large role in shaping Jane into a genuine person. Helen died because of the fever that struck the school.

Mr. Brocklehurst: He was a horrible man who embarrassed and humiliated Jane at the school under the instruction of Mrs. Reed. He didn't allow the girls at the school to wear any clothing that wasn't remarkably simple. The students were starving because he didn't try to get extra funds to provide enough food for the students.


Significance of Lowood:

Lowood was a run-down, harsh, and tormented school with Mr. Brocklehurst running it. A fever hit the school and disease killed a majority of the students. The tragedy that struck the school brought publicity to the conditions the girls were living in, and huge improvements were made. This is where Jane learned to read, write, speak French, draw and play some piano. At 18 she graduated from being a student to a teacher.

"...Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity, or registering wrongs. We are, and must be, one and all, burdened with faults in this world: but the time will soon come when, I trust, we shall put them off in putting off our corruptible bodies; when debasement and sin will fall from us with this cumbrous frame of flesh, and only the spark of the spirit will remain..." -Helen Burns (p. 55)

Thornfield

Master of Thornfield: Mr. Edward Rochester

Children: Adele

Important figures at Thornfield:

Mr. Rochester: The owner and master of Thornfield, and pays Jane to be the governess to Adele.

Ms. Alice Fairfax: Ms. Fairfax is the main housekeeper of Thornfield Manor, and she found Jane's advertisement to become a governess (teacher) and asked her to come to Thornfield. She treats Jane with kindness, and is thankful for the good company she finds in Jane.

Adele: Adele is Jane's pupil to teach and take care of at Thornfield.

Grace Poole: Throughout the novel, Jane believes Grace to be a liar and threat to Mr. Rochester, but all along Jane was being kept in the dark about a secret.

Bertha Mason Rochester: Mr. Rochester's estranged and mentally insane wife whom he keeps stashed away for his protection.


Significance of Thornfield:

Thornfield is the first place where Jane finds true happiness. She is happily welcomed into the home, and falls in love with Mr. Rochester. She left Lowood to try and live her life differently, and not only finds a true home at Thornfield, but finds a home in Mr. Rochester.


Key Events:

Jane becoming a governess:

Jane spent most of her life going by the rules and regulations of others, but when she decided to leave Lowood, she became an individual and independent. She taught a young french girl Adele, and grew close to her.

Mr. Rochester's company:

Mr. Rochester, the master of Thornfield, was bored with his "simple minded" employees at Thornfield. When he met Jane, he found someone to speak with who was as intelligent as himself. He was blunt and honest with her, but treated her with kindness and respect.

Jane's scares:

Throughout her time at Thornfield, Jane heard demented laughing and sounds that scared her in the middle of the night. One night she woke up and found Mr. Rochester's bed caught a fire. All along Jane believed it was one of the maids, Grace Poole, who was the perpetrator. A mysterious man named Mr. Mason came to visit, and that night he was found nearly dead with wounds and cuts. Jane never received an explanation at that time.

Proposal:

Mr. Rochester was set to marry another woman, but when Jane said she was set to leave, Mr. Rochester professed his feelings and asked Jane to marry him instead. On their wedding day, Jane found that Mr. Rochester was married to another woman, Bertha Mason. Bertha was a delirious and estranged woman that threatened the very life of Mr. Rochester. He kept her in the house to save her from herself and others. Jane fled Thornfield until a year later.

Moor House

Years spent at the Moor House: 1

Family: River's family

Significant figures at the Moor House:

St. John Rivers: Asks Jane to marry him and become a missionary in India with him, but shows no compassion toward her.

Diana Rivers: Jane's cousin and St. John's sister who encourages Jane not to go to India with him.

Mary Rivers: Jane's cousin and St. John's sister who also encourages Jane to be an independent woman.


Significance of the Moor House:

While Jane was at the Moor House, she lied about who she was to avoid being contacted by Mr. Rochester. After being found out, she finds that she is subject to a 20,000 pound inheritance from an uncle, and discovers that the Rivers family is in relation to her. She is thrilled to finally find true family. John Rivers asks Jane to be his wife, but she realizes that passion and love are what she longs for in marriage, and she did not feel that toward John. She eventually leaves to once again go to Mr. Rochester.


Key events:

Inheritance:

Jane found out that she was going to receive a 20,000 pound inheritance from her uncle John Eyre. She finally would have money to her name, and offered to share the money with her newly found relatives the Rivers.

Proposal:

St. John Rivers asked Jane to go to India with him to be a missionary and become his wife, but Jane realizes that she is meant to go back to find Mr. Rochester. She was not in love with John Rivers and she wants to live life with love and passion, not by duties or unhappiness.


"As for me, I daily wished more to please him; but to do so, I felt daily more and more that I must disown half my nature, stifle half my faculties, wrest my tastes from their original bent, force myself to the adoption of pursuits for which I had no natural vocation..." - Jane Eyre (p. 417)


Turning Point/Climax

Jane deciding to go back to Mr. Rochester

While Jane is at the Moor House, she received another proposal from St. John Rivers. Although she contemplated accepting, she knew that she was not in love with him. When she was thinking, she heard Mr. Rochester's voice calling to her, and found that to be a sign that she needed to go back to him. At this point, she leaves the Moor House, to return to where her heart truly lies.
"Thank you, Mr. Rochester, for your great kindness. I am strangely glad to get back again to you; and wherever you are is my home--my only home." -Jane Eyre (p. 252)

Recommendation

Jane Eyre is a very complicated read. However, I absolutely loved it! It is certainly different than most books that I have read, and it was an interesting experience to read a classic. Some moments are slow, but overall it was intriguing and kept me wanting to read. I would recommend it to anyone interested in classical reading and wanting a challenge. I would imagine that most people under a junior or senior in high school would struggle reading this book, so my recommendation would be to wait till you are older to read it, or read it more than once to understand it completely.
Jane Eyre Official Trailer #1 - (2011) HD

Major Points

  • Gateshead
  1. Abusive and neglected childhood
  • Lowood
  1. Strict and calloused teachers
  2. No affection
  3. Only friend (Helen Burns) died
  4. Received education
  • Thornfield
  1. Welcomed with affection (first time)
  2. Met Mr. Rochester
  3. Governess for Adele
  4. Fall in love
  5. Proposal
  6. Finds out about Mr. Rochester's wife
  7. Leaves
  • Moor House
  1. Find job under false name
  2. Discovers family (The Rivers)
  3. Proposal (St. John Rivers)
  • Mr. Rochester
  1. House burnt down
  2. He is blind and lost hand
  3. Wife died
  4. Proposal
  • Marriage
  1. Small wedding
  2. Rehabilitation
  3. Child

Video

Jane Eyre. Movieclips, 2011. Film. 1 Apr 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1vSb318d74>.

Novel

Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. United States: Dodd, Mead, & Company, Inc., 1941. Print.