Characters are integral to a narrative; whatever genre it may take. They play an important role in the evolution of social issues and themes. Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre was written during the Victorian Era. During those periods, there was too much class separation and gender bias too. It was a predominantly male-led society. Hence, the voice of Jane Eyre was a sound of rebellion and the beginning of the feminist movement. Some of the characters from Jane Eyre have been analyzed below.
Characters in Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre is the protagonist and the main narrator of the novel. She grows into a highly sensitive, independent woman. Her journey is filled with hardships as she faces stiff resistance from everyone she meets. Her poverty, social class crushes her desires, and she is treated cruelly by the Reeds and others. Surprisingly, she continues to grow her spirit independently and strengthen her beliefs. After leaving Mr. Rochester, she becomes destitute and continues to be fully independent. At the Moor House, where she is valued but refuses to go to India with St. John. Finally, she reconciles with Mr. Rochester and marries him. She refuses to bow down in front of people like Helen Burns and St. John. She chooses spirituality, preferring love, and empathy. Her empathetic and rebellious character is considered as the beginning of feminism, where women start demanding for their rights.
Mr. Rochester is the owner of Thornfield Manor. He exhibits Byronic qualities of a hero having appeal and attraction in his character. He is sympathetic. He’s forced to confine Bertha Mason, his first wife due to her mental state. Mr. Rochester loved Jane despite vast social differences. He provides the sense of being loved to Jane and gives her a family. He is left broken when Jane rejects to marry him on the wedding day. After Bertha’s death and he is partially blinded due to the fire. He mansion is in ruins. During his lowest time, Jane reconciles with him. He gains his eyesight and is happily married to Jane by the end of the story., A fact that proves Jane’s superiority in ethical as well as an emotional relationship.
St. John Rivers
John Rivers addressed as St. John, is Jane’s cousin and brother of Diana and Mary. Though he comes as a genuinely nice person, he is cold. Jane refuses to marry him to go to India. His Christian evangelical teachings influence her, but she believes his religious doctrines are cold, strict, and stoic devotion. He wishes for an obedient wife who can influence efficiently and is surprised at Jane’s rejection. Later he leaves for the missionary work to India and other countries. He works hard for ten years and then dies still young and single.
Helen is Jane’s schoolmate at Lowood School, who demonstrates tolerance and other Christian values opposite to Jane. She holds a doctrine that her faithfulness and patience would win a reward in the life hereafter. Despite facing torture from Mrs. Scatcherd, she does not fight back or wavers in her belief that she would meet her family in Heaven. Helen dies due to consumption. Before dying, she expresses that she is glad to leave the world of suffering.
Mr. Brocklehurst demonstrates his hypocritical Christian morals. He is known for torturing his students mentally and with cruelty at Lowood School. This behavior is contrary to his evangelical sermons. Poor conditions at the school and very low-quality food show contradictions in his actions and teachings. It later proves that he stole funds from the school for his own family, an act which leads to his expulsion.
Bertha Mason is Mr. Rochester’s first wife. The major purpose of her marrying Mr. Rochester is to consolidate the family wealth. Her violent outbursts and her mental condition leads to her confinement at Thornfield. Grace Poole keeps watching on her. Eventually, her insanity costs Rochester his eyesight and causes a fire in the mansion. Bertha leaps into that fire and dies. Her death leads to the reconciliation of Mr. Rochester and Jane.
Mrs. Sarah Reed is Jane’s aunt. Despite her promise to her husband, Mr. Reed, to raise Jane as her own, she ill-treats her. Mrs. Reed often locks Jane up but simultaneously spoils her own children by favoring. She continues to torture Jane mentally. Her worst comes out when she lies about Jane’s death. However, she reveals her hatred toward Jane even on her deathbed and refuses to feel guilty. Before dying, she gives the letter of inheritance to Jane, which was from her Uncle John Eyre.
Miss Temple is a kindly lady at Lowood who takes the responsibility of feeding the orphans. She is very kind, especially towards Helen and Jane. Miss Temple supports the children through thick or thin. Her kind act has been shown as she continues to care for Helen when she is on the deathbed. Jane is indirectly influenced by her character and continues to help others in the future.
John Reed is Jane’s cousin and brother of Georgiana and Eliza. His behavior is obnoxious, and he is a typical bullying man. Even though he is a cousin, Jane, does not leave a good impression on him. John Reed takes after his mother and mistreats Jane. He locks her in the red-room when she lives with them. He becomes a drunk, and a gambler in his adult life and kills himself to escape growing debts.
Grace Poole is a caretaker of Bertha Mason, Mr. Rochester’s first wife at Thornfield. Grace is an alcoholic and cannot live without gin. She falls asleep when she is drunk. During one of her lapses, Bertha escapes and sets the house on fire that blinds Mr. Rochester. She is also accused of all the troubles caused by Bertha during Jane’s stay.