Jane Eyre

Characters

  • Jane Eyre: The protagonist of the novel and the title character. Orphaned as a baby, she struggles through her nearly loveless childhood and becomes governess at Thornfield Hall. Jane is passionate and strongly principled, and values freedom and independence. She also has a strong conscience and is a determined Christian.
  • Mr. Reed: Jane's maternal uncle, who adopts Jane when her parents die. According to Mrs. Reed, he pitied Jane and often cared for her more than for his own children. Before his own death, he makes his wife promise to care for Jane.
  • Mrs. Reed: Jane's aunt by marriage, who adopts Jane on her husband's wishes, but abuses and neglects her. She eventually casts her off and sends her to Lowood School.
  • John Reed: Jane's cousin, who as a child bullies Jane constantly, sometimes in his mother's presence. He ruins himself as an adult by drinking and gambling and is thought to have committed suicide.
  • Eliza Reed: Jane's cousin. Jealous of her more attractive sister, and a slave to rigid routine, she self-righteously devotes herself to religion. She leaves for a nunnery near Lisle after her mother's death, determined to estrange herself from her sister.
  • Georgiana Reed: Jane's cousin. Although beautiful and indulged, she is insolent and spiteful. Her sister Eliza foils her marriage to the wealthy Lord Edwin Vere, when they were about to elope. She eventually marries a "wealthy worn-out man of fashion".
  • Bessie Lee: The nursemaid at Gateshead. She often treats Jane kindly, telling her stories and singing her songs, but she has a quick temper. Later she marries Robert Leaven.
  • Robert Leaven: The coachman at Gateshead, who brings Jane the news of John Reed's death, which brought on Mrs. Reed's stroke, and Mrs. Reed's wish to see her before she died.
  • Mr. Lloyd: A compassionate apothecary who recommends that Jane be sent to school. Later, he writes a letter to Miss Temple confirming Jane's account of her childhood and thereby clearing Jane of Mrs. Reed's charge of lying.
  • Mr. Brocklehurst: The clergyman, director and treasurer of Lowood School, whose maltreatment of the students is eventually exposed. A religious traditionalist, he advocates for his charges the most harsh, plain, and disciplined possible lifestyle, but not, hypocritically, for himself and his own family. His second daughter Augusta exclaimed, "Oh, dear papa, how quiet and plain all the girls at Lowood look... they looked at my dress and mama's, as if they had never seen a silk gown before."
  • Miss Maria Temple: The kind superintendent of Lowood School, who treats the students with respect and compassion. She helps clear Jane of Mr. Brocklehurst's false accusation of deceit, and cares for Helen in her last days. Eventually she marries Reverend Naysmith.
  • Miss Scatcherd: A sour and strict teacher at Lowood, she constantly punishes Helen Burns for her untidiness, but fails to see Helen's substantial good points.
  • Helen Burns: Jane's best friend at Lowood School. She refuses to hate those who abuse her, trusting in God and praying for peace one day in heaven. She teaches Jane to trust Christianity, and dies of consumption in Jane's arms. Elizabeth Gaskell, in her biography of the Brontë sisters, wrote that Helen Burns was 'an exact transcript' of Maria Brontë, who died of consumption at age 11.[8]
  • Edward Fairfax Rochester: The master of Thornfield Hall. A Byronic hero, he is tricked into making an unfortunate first marriage to Bertha Mason many years before he meets Jane, with whom he falls madly in love.
  • Bertha Antoinetta Mason: The violently insane first wife of Edward Rochester; moved to Thornfield and locked in the attic and eventually commits suicide after setting fire to Thornfield Hall.
  • Adèle Varens: An excitable French child to whom Jane is governess at Thornfield. She has been Mr. Rochester's ward since her mother, Mr. Rochester's mistress, abandoned her and "ran away to Italy with a musician or singer" (ch. 15).
  • Mrs. Alice Fairfax: An elderly, kind widow and the housekeeper of Thornfield Hall.
  • Leah: The housemaid at Thornfield Hall.
  • John: An old and normally the only man servant at Thornfield.
  • Mary: Normally referred to as 'John's wife' and sometimes 'the cook'.
  • Blanche Ingram: A socialite whom Mr. Rochester temporarily courts to make Jane jealous. She is described as having great beauty and talent, but displays callous behaviour and avaricious intent.
  • Richard Mason: An Englishman from the West Indies, whose sister is Mr. Rochester's first wife. He took part in tricking Mr. Rochester into marrying Bertha. He still, however, cares for his sister's well-being.
  • Grace Poole: Bertha Mason's caretaker. Mr. Rochester pays her a very high salary to keep Bertha hidden and quiet, and she is often used as an explanation for odd happenings. She has a weakness for drink that occasionally allows Bertha to escape.
  • St. John Eyre Rivers: A clergyman who befriends Jane and turns out to be her cousin. He is thoroughly practical and suppresses all his human passions and emotions in favour of good works. He is determined to go to India as a missionary, despite being in love with Rosamond Oliver.
  • Diana and Mary Rivers: St. John's sisters and (as it turns out) Jane's cousins. They are poor, intelligent, and kind-hearted, and want St. John to stay in England.
  • Rosamond Oliver: A beautiful, kindly but not deep thinking, wealthy young woman, the patron of the village school where Jane teaches. She falls in love with St. John, only to be rejected because she would not make a good missionary's wife.
  • Mr. Oliver: Rosamond Oliver's wealthy father, who owns a foundry and needle factory in the district. He is a kind and charitable man and is fond of St. John.
  • Alice Wood: Jane's maid when she is mistress of the girls' village school in Morton.
  • John Eyre: Jane's paternal uncle, who leaves her his vast fortune and wished to adopt her when she was 15. Mrs. Reed prevents the adoption out of spite towards Jane.

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