Jane Eyre

Major characters

In order of first line of dialogue:

Chapter 1

  • Jane Eyre: The novel's narrator and protagonist, she eventually becomes the second wife of Edward Rochester. Orphaned as a baby, Jane struggles through her nearly loveless childhood and becomes governess at Thornfield Hall. Though facially plain, Jane is passionate and strongly principled, and values freedom and independence. She also has a strong conscience and is a determined Christian. She is ten at the beginning of the novel, and nineteen or twenty at the end of the main narrative. As the final chapter of the novel states that she has been married to Edward Rochester for ten years, she is approximately thirty at its completion.
  • Mrs. Sarah Reed: (née Gibson) Jane's maternal aunt by marriage, who reluctantly adopted Jane in accordance with her late husband's wishes. According to Mrs. Reed, he pitied Jane and often cared for her more than for his own children. Mrs. Reed's resentment leads her to abuse and neglect the girl. She lies to Mr. Brocklehurst about Jane's tendency to lie, preparing him to be severe with Jane when she arrives at Brocklehurst's Lowood School.
  • John Reed: Jane's fourteen-year-old cousin who bullies her incessantly, sometimes in his mother's presence. John eventually ruins himself as an adult by drinking and gambling, and is rumoured to have committed suicide.
  • Eliza Reed: Jane's thirteen-year-old first cousin. Jealous of her more attractive younger 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 eleven-year-old first cousin. Although beautiful and indulged, she is insolent and spiteful. Her elder sister Eliza foils Georgiana's marriage to the wealthy Lord Edwin Vere, when the couple is about to elope. Georgiana 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 and gives him three children.

Chapter 3

  • 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 clears Jane of Mrs. Reed's charge of lying.

Chapter 4

  • 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."

Chapter 5

  • 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, trusts in God, and prays 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]

Chapter 11

  • Mrs. Alice Fairfax: The elderly, kind widow and the housekeeper of Thornfield Hall; distantly related to the Rochesters
  • Adèle Varens: [a.dɛl va.ʁɛ̃] An excitable French child to whom Jane is governess at Thornfield. Adèle's mother was a dancer named Céline. She was Mr. Rochester's mistress and claimed that Adèle was Mr. Rochester's daughter, though he refuses to believe it due to Céline's unfaithfulness and Adèle's apparent lack of resemblance to him. Adèle seems to believe that her mother is dead (she tells Jane in chapter 11, "I lived long ago with mamma, but she is gone to the Holy Virgin"), but Mr Rochester later tells Jane that Céline actually abandoned Adèle and "ran away to Italy with a musician or singer" (ch. 15). Adèle and Jane develop a strong liking for one another, and although Mr. Rochester places Adèle in a strict school after Jane flees Thornfield, Jane visits Adèle after her return and finds a better, less severe school for her. When Adèle is old enough to leave school, Jane describes her as "a pleasing and obliging companion – docile, good-tempered and well-principled", and considers her kindness to Adèle well repaid.
  • Grace Poole: "...a woman of between thirty and forty; a set, square-made figure, red-haired, and with a hard, plain face..." Mr. Rochester pays her a very high salary to keep his mad wife Bertha hidden and quiet, and Grace is often used as an explanation for odd happenings. She has a weakness for drink that occasionally allows Bertha to escape.

Chapter 12

  • Edward Fairfax Rochester: The master of Thornfield Hall. A Byronic hero, he has a face "dark, strong, and stern." He was tricked into making an unfortunate marriage to Bertha Mason years before the novel begins.
  • Leah: The housemaid at Thornfield Hall, wife of John the manservant.

Chapter 17

  • Blanche Ingram: Young socialite whom Mr. Rochester is planning to marry. Though possessed of great beauty and talent, she treats social inferiors, Jane in particular, with undisguised contempt. Mr. Rochester exposes her and her mother's mercenary motivations when he puts out a rumor that he is far less wealthy than they imagine.

Chapter 18

  • Richard Mason: An Englishman whose arrival at Thornfield Hall from the West Indies unsettles Mr. Rochester. He is the brother of Rochester's first wife, the insane woman in the attic, and still cares for his sister's well-being. He took part in tricking Mr. Rochester into marrying Bertha, and has returned to England to expose, during the wedding ceremony itself, the bigamous nature of the marriage of Jane and Mr. Rochester.

Chapter 21

  • Robert Leaven: The coachman at Gateshead, who brings Jane the news of the death of the dissolute John Reed, an event which has brought on Mrs. Reed's stroke. He informs her of Mrs. Reed's wish to see Jane before she dies.

Chapter 26

  • Bertha Antoinetta Mason: The violent and insane first wife of Edward Rochester. Mr. Rochester has kept Bertha locked in the attic at Thornfield for years under the eye of Grace Poole, whose drinking sometimes allows Bertha to escape. After Richard Mason puts an end to Jane and Mr. Rochester's wedding, Rochester finally introduces Jane to Bertha: "In the deep shade, at the farther end of the room, a figure ran backwards and forwards. What it was, whether beast or human being, one could not, at first sight, tell ... it snatched and growled like some strange wild animal: but it was covered with clothing, and a quantity of dark, grizzled hair, wild as a mane, hid its head and face." Eventually, Bertha sets fire to Thornfield Hall and throws herself to her death from the roof.

Chapter 28

  • Diana and Mary Rivers: Sisters in a remote house who take Jane in when she is hungry and friendless, having left Thornfield Hall without making any arrangements for herself. Financially poor but intellectually curious, the sisters are deeply engrossed in reading the evening Jane appears at their door. Eventually, they are revealed to be Jane's cousins. They want Jane to marry their stern clergyman brother so that he will stay in England rather than journey to India as a missionary.
  • Hannah: The kindly housekeeper at the Rivers home; "...comparable with the Brontes' well-loved servant, Tabitha Aykroyd."
  • St. John (SIN-jin) Eyre Rivers: A handsome, though severe and serious, clergyman who befriends Jane and turns out to be her cousin. St. John is thoroughly practical and suppresses all of his human passions and emotions, particularly his love for the beautiful and cheerful heiress Rosamond Oliver, in favour of good works. He wants Jane to marry him and serve as his assistant on his missionary journey to India.

Chapter 32

  • Rosamond Oliver: A beautiful, kindly, wealthy, but rather simple young woman, and the patron of the village school where Jane teaches. Rosamond is in love with St. John, but he refuses to declare his love for her because she wouldn't be suitable as a missionary's wife. She eventually becomes engaged to the respected and wealthy Mr. Granby.
  • Mr. Oliver: Rosamond Oliver's wealthy father, who owns a foundry and needle factory in the district. "... a tall, massive-featured, middle-aged, and gray-headed man, at whose side his lovely daughter looked like a bright flower near a hoary turret." He is a kind and charitable man, and is fond of St. John.

This content is from Wikipedia. GradeSaver is providing this content as a courtesy until we can offer a professionally written study guide by one of our staff editors. We do not consider this content professional or citable. Please use your discretion when relying on it.