There are 5 main characters in Jane Eyre. The novel follows the life of the protagonist of the story, Jane Eyre. Orphaned and mistreated as a child, she grows into a kind, intelligent, and independent woman. Edward Fairfax Rochester is her main love interest, her mysterious and eccentric employer who has a dark secret. Bertha is a madwoman and the source of the strange occurrences at Thornfield Manor. Adele Varens is the young girl that Jane is hired to take care of and teach. St John’s is a highly religious man that takes Jane in after she leaves Thornfield Manor and develops complicated feelings for her. Let’s get into the Jane Eyre characters analysis!
The Main Characters in Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre - Gateshead Hall
The Jane Eyre character descriptions start with Jane Eyre herself, the main protagonist and narrator of the story. The novel follows her life from a young orphan to a happily married woman and chronicles her adventures and life experiences.
Jane is orphaned at a young age and is taken in by her aunt Mrs. Reed. Jane is treated horribly by her aunt and her cousins at Gateshead Hall. Jane has a very difficult childhood, bullied by everyone in the household. After a fight with her cousin James, Mrs. Reed locks Jane in the red room where Jane falls very sick. While taking care of her, the apothecary Mr. Lloyd suggests sending young Jane away to a boarding school.
Jane is excited at the prospect of leaving her miserable childhood home and looks forward to the change. Before she leaves though Mrs. Reed tells the headmaster, Mr. Brocklehurst, that Jane is a deceitful liar and that he should warn all the teachers and students.
Jane moves to Lowood Boarding School, a place for orphans, and is disappointed to see that her life isn’t going to improve significantly. The school is strict and highly religious. Mr. Brocklehurst makes the girls wear raggedy clothing and barely gives them enough to eat. He makes Jane stand up on a chair and publicly announces that she is a liar to the entire school, distressing Jane and making her worry that she won’t be able to make friends. Most of the school doesn’t like Mr. Brocklehurst though and Jane eventually becomes very good friends with Helen Burns.
Helen teaches Jane about religion, morality, and kindness. Helen’s death is another traumatic experience for Jane, but her difficult life has taught her how to deal with pain. After the accusation that Jane is a liar is cleared up, she throws herself into her studies and over the next few years becomes an intelligent young woman.
Jane’s struggles make her an insightful, interesting woman with strong empathy, understanding, and a strong will to be self-reliant. After teaching at Lowood for two years, she decides to look for a position somewhere else. She ends up as a governess for a young 10-year old at Thornfield Manor.
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She is pleasantly surprised at her warm reception and falls into a comfortable routine but inwardly desires more excitement in life. When she first meets the owner of the house, Mr. Edward Fairfax Rochester she is intrigued by him. He is initially arrogant and gruff, but their interaction is always interesting. Jane finds herself enjoying his company more and more and realizes that she’s in love with him. She gets jealous when it seems like Edward is going to marry a beautiful noblewoman, Blanche Ingram. Over the course of months, it seems more and more certain that the two will wed, but Edward continues spending a lot of time with Jane.
A few nights before the wedding, Jane admits her feelings for Edward Rochester who surprises her by proposing to her instead of Blanche Ingram. Jane is overjoyed and accepts, but her life is never easy. At the wedding, it is revealed that Edward is already married, and the strange sounds and events that happen in Thornfield Manor are because his mad wife Bertha is kept locked up on the third floor. Though she loves Edward, Jane sneaks out in the middle of the night and decides to leave.
Jane goes as far as she can and ends up on the streets for a few days, begging for food. She collapses in the doorway of Moor House. She is taken in and nursed back to health by the sisters Diana and Mary Rivers. Their older brother St. John Rivers is a clergyman and is initially cold towards Jane, but finds her a position as a teacher at a village school. Jane is disappointed at the quality of education the children have but looks forward to seeing her pupils progress.
After the sisters leave, St. John becomes closer to Jane, eventually asking her to marry him. Though Jane is grateful, she knows St. John doesn’t really love her and that she doesn’t love him. She finds out the Rivers are actually cousins of hers and a wealthy uncle leaves her with 20,000 pounds, giving her the freedom she always desired. She decides to share the inheritance with her cousins and give up teaching.
St. John asks her to go to India with him for missionary work as his wife, but she says that she will go with him as his sister. One evening, she hears the voice of Edward Rochester calling for her. She decides to return to Thornfield Manor but finds it burned down. She learns that Bertha had set the house on fire and jumped to her death. Edward had lost his eyesight and one hand in the tragedy. She finds him secluded in a remote manor house. He is thrilled to see her and proposes marriage again. She happily accepts despite his physical state. 10 years later, they are happily married with a child.
Edward Fairfax Rochester - Thornfield Manor
Edward Fairfax Rochester is the mysterious and eccentric owner of Thornfield Manor and Jane’s love interest. He is initially snobbish and gruff with Jane, but it is clear that he is hiding deep pain. Edward is well-liked but he has a temperamental personality and orders people around. He admits to Jane that in his youth he made some mistakes that make him feel as if his soul has been damaged. Edward had spent most of his youth living a wild and free life, but it seems like he is trying to change his ways.
He softens through his relationship with Jane and she sometimes thinks that he is romantically interested in her, he goes through the charade of pursuing Blanche Ingram only to propose to Jane instead. Rather than be honest with her though, it’s revealed that he is already married and that he keeps his mad wife locked up on the third floor of the manor. He is devastated when Jane leaves. Two months after her departure, Bertha burns down the house, and Edward loses his vision and one hand. He is forced to change his wild ways and ends up living in seclusion. Jane returns to him and he proposes to her again. 10 years later he is happily married, with a child, and some of his vision has returned.
St. John Rivers - Moors Head
St. John Rivers is the brother of Diana and Mary and later revealed as a cousin of Jane. He takes her in when she leaves Thornfield Manor and gets her a job as a school teacher. He is attractive, but as a devoted clergyman, he is hard and stern. He proposes to Jane not out of love, but because he believes she will be a good companion during his missionary work.
Bertha Mason Rochester - Thornfield Manor
Bertha Mason Rochester is the mad wife of Edward Rochester who is kept locked up on the third floor of Thornfield Manor. He was pushed into marrying her by his father when he went to Jamaica as a youth. Described as tall, dark, and majestic, it became clear to Edward that they were not a good match. His father had also declined to tell him that mental instability ran in her family because he wanted the marriage to go through for her family’s wealth and status. She verbally and mentally abuses Edward and it gets worse over time. Her condition deteriorates to the point where she starts biting, stabbing, and hurting people. She eventually burns down Thornfield Manor and jumps to her death.
Adele Varens - Thornfield Manor
Adele Varens is Edward Rochestor ward. She is the result of a previous affair he had with a French singer Celine Varens. Jane is hired to be her governess and they quickly become friends. Jane is able to transform her from an excitable and spoiled little girl into a well-mannered and good student.
The Minor Characters in Jane Eyre
Mrs. Reed - Gateshead Hall
Mrs. Reed is Jane’s cruel aunt who takes her in after she is orphaned. She treats Jane with contempt and prefers her children to Jane. She is an unpleasant woman who does everything she can to ruin Jane’s life. She lies to the headmaster, saying that Jane is a deceitful girl and later in the story tells her uncle that she is dead. Mrs. Reed dies unhappy, her children hate her and she is disappointed in them. Till the very end, she is unable to apologize to Jane.
Eliza Reed - Gateshead Hall
Eliza Reed is Mrs. Reed’s eldest daughter and well respected in the family. She torments Jane as a child but grows into an unkind and unhappy woman.
John Reed - Gateshead Hall
John Reed is Mrs. Reed’s eldest son. He is a loud, abrasive, and spoiled child who torments Jane as a child. His fight with Jane is the reason she is sent away to Lowood Boarding School. He eventually falls out of college and squanders his life drinking and gambling. He commits suicide when his mother stops paying his debts.
Georgiana Reed - Gateshead Hall
Georgiana Reed is Mrs. Reed’s youngest daughter. She is beautiful and therefore well-liked and respected but also torments Jane as a child.
Bessie Leaven - Gateshead Hall
Bessie Leaven is Mrs. Reed’s governess and is the only one who shows a little kindness to Jane as she grows up in Gateshead Hall.
John Eyre - Gateshead Hall
John Eyre is Jane’s uncle who tries to adopt her but is informed by Mrs. Reed that Jane died of Typhus. When he dies he leaves 20,000 pounds to Jane.
Mr. Lloyd - Gateshead Hall
Mr. Lloyd is the apothecary that realizes that it is in Jane’s best interests if she leaves Gateshead Hall. He convinces Mrs. Reed to send her away and later clarifies that Jane is not a liar contrary to what Mrs. Reed tells the headmaster of Lowood Boarding School.
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Mr. Brocklehurst - Lowood Boarding School
Mr. Brocklehurst is the very religious and strict headmaster of Lowood Boarding School. He treats the children terribly, barely giving them sufficient clothing and food. He believes in strict discipline and is often cruel. After the typhus epidemic, he is demoted.
Maria Temple - Lowood Boarding School
Maria Temple is the superintendent of Lowood. She is a kind woman who does her best to take care of the children. She inspires Jane to become a good student, helps clear her name, and gets her a teaching position at Lowood. When she gets married and leaves, Jane sees no point in staying at Lowood anymore.
Helen Burns - Lowood Boarding School
Helen Burns is Jane’s best friend at Lowood. She teaches Jane about religion, kindness, and morality and helps Jane see the world differently. She dies of typhus, but the night she dies she tells Jane that she is not afraid. A brave, upstanding girl, who believes in God and kindness, she is Jane’s first real friend and influences her character deeply.
Grace Poole - Thornfield Manor
Grace Poole is a servant at Thornfield Manor who is entrusted with taking care of the mad Bertha. All the strange occurrences at the Manor are blamed on Grace even though she is a serious and respectful woman.
Mrs. Fairfax - Thornfield Manor
Mrs. Farifax is the housekeeper at Thornfield Manor. She is kind to Jane and the two develop a close bond and friendship.
Blanche Ingram - Thornfield Manor
Blanche Ingram is a beautiful and intelligent noblewoman who competes for Edward’s affections. She is arrogant and shows off her intelligence to people. Edward pretends to be interested in her to motivate Jane to reveal her feelings for him.
Mr. Mason - Thornfield Manor
Mr. Mason is Bertha Mason’s older brother. He is stabbed by Bertha when he unexpectedly comes to visit Thornfield Manor. Later he is the one who interrupts Edward and Jane’s wedding with the revelation that Edward is already married.
Mary Rivers - Moors Head
Mary Rivers is one of the sisters who take Jane into Moors Head. She is kind but it takes her some time to warm up to Jane. They eventually become good friends and it is later revealed that they are distant cousins.
Diana Rivers - Moors Head
Diana Rivers is one of the sisters who take Jane into Moors Head. She is charming and kind and immediately becomes friends with Jane. It is later revealed that they are cousins.
Rosamund Oliver - Moors Head
Rosamund Oliver is the wealthy noblewoman who sponsors the village school Jane works at. She is romantically interested in St. John but he does not return her feelings. She is kind but can be egotistical at times.
To Sum Up
This summary of the Charlotte Bronte Jane Eyre characters tells the story and explains the roles of the major and minor characters. Jane is initially surrounded by cruel people, but the kindness she sees as she gets older influences her more powerfully than the trauma in her youth. Jane Eyre may have been written over 150 years ago but is considered the first of its kind in many regards. If you need any help with an essay about the characters in Jane Eyre or any help with essay editing or homework, the experts at Studyfy are eager to offer professional help!