List of Characters
Jane spent her early childhood at Gateshead Hall as an orphan in the care of
her aunt, Sarah Reed.
Her parents had died when she was just a few months old. Her father was a parson and her mother was the disinherited sister of Sarah Reed’s husband. When Mr. Reed died, he had made his wife promise to bring up Jane as one of her own. Jane is bullied by her three cousins, and refuses to be dominated by her harsh aunt.
She is sent to Lowood Boarding School for Orphaned Girls where she remains
for eight years, as a student and then as a teacher. Wishing to escape the prison-like environment of the school, she advertises as a Governess and obtains a position at Thornfield Hall.
She falls in love with the master of the hall, Rochester, and he
reciprocates this affection. On their wedding day it is revealed that Rochester was already the victim of an arranged marriage with a woman who turned mad. The deranged Mrs. Rochester is killed when she
sets fire to Thornfield and eventually Jane and Rochester are reunited and live happily together.
Edward Fairfax Rochester
Edward is the second son of a wealthy landowner, but has an unhappy
adulthood when he is tricked into marrying an insane woman, who resides in a cell-like room in Thornfield Hall. In an attempt to escape this misery, he spends much of his time wandering Europe, during which he
has a string of relationships, but one in particular involving C'line Varens means more than the others, and he has a genuine feeling for this French singer and dancer, but it is not reciprocated. When Varens
deserts her child, Ad'le, Rochester brings her back to Thornfield Hall to be cared for, even though the child is not his.
When he meets Jane Eyre, he sees past the slight stature and plain features,
and sees a loving, caring person to whom he is attracted. Her presence gives him some hope for the future and realizing that she could not be another mistress for him, he decides to marry her. His
attempted bigamy is discovered on the wedding day causing Jane to flee Thornfield, and shortly after this, his wife escapes her prison and sets fire to Thornfield, dying in the process.
Rochester is blinded and loses his left hand in the fire, and moves to
Ferndean. There he is eventually reunited with Jane. They marry and have a son.
Sarah Gibson Reed
She reluctantly agrees to her husband’s deathbed wish and brings up Jane
Eyre in her home. Whilst spoiling her own three children, and overlooking their constant bullying of Jane, she gives our heroine a most unhappy childhood.
Jane rebels against Mrs. Reed’s authority seeing it as totally unjust. Mrs. Reed dies alone, unloved by her daughters.
The administrator of Lowood School for Orphaned Girls, he runs a strict and
austere regime at the school. Whilst the orphans suffer at the hands of cruel teachers receiving inadequate food and wearing spartan clothes, he and his family enjoy comparative luxury.
His power over the orphans ends, however, when there is an outbreak of typhus and his inefficiency is discovered.
Mrs. Alice Fairfax
She is a distant relative of Rochester, and is employed as Housekeeper at
Thornfield. She has a genuine affection for Jane in contrast to the majority of females Jane has known prior to her arrival at Thornfield. She tries to discourage Jane’s marriage with Mr. Rochester
because of the large age gap.
She is Edward Rochester’s ward rescued when her mother, a French singer and
dancer, deserted her. It is through her that Jane obtains the position as Governess, and due to Jane’s influence, Ad'le is molded into a disciplined, educated girl.
Arguably the most beautiful woman in the County, she views an alliance with
Rochester as advantageous as it would improve her position.
She regards Rochester as the most eligible ‘bachelor’ in the area, but she becomes less keen when she discovers that his fortune is not as large as she expected.
A close friend of Jane at Lowood, she is a sickly child and eventually
succumbs to the rigors of life at Lowood. She has an angelic quality, and gives Jane Christian advice as to how she should lead her life. She looks forward to a reunion with Jane in heaven.
The Reed children
John, Eliza and Georgiana are the three spoilt children and cousins of Jane.
John in particular bullies Jane and inflicts physical injury to her. He is totally spoilt by his mother, and his outlandish behavior in adulthood reduces his mother to near poverty. He has a violent death aged only 23, which is rumored to be suicide.
The two daughters are self-centered and have little regard for their
mother. Interestingly, Eliza becomes a nun in France and eventually, Mother Superior. Georgiana being a beauty marries well. Neither of the girls mourned their mother’s death.
She is the only servant at Gateshead Hall to show any kind thought for Jane.
One of the few teachers at Lowood who cares for the girls, and she becomes
one of Jane’s early role models.
Bertha Antoinetta Mason Rochester
Madness runs in her family, but this is concealed from Rochester until the
arranged marriage takes place.
The arranged marriage was to provide benefit for both families concerned. After a few years of wretched life, Edward Rochester is forced to imprison his mad, retarded wife in Thornfield under the care of Grace Poole, rather than have her committed to an asylum. She escapes from her keeper and causes the destruction of herself, and Thornfield.
Bertha’s brother, he visits Thornfield to establish his sister’s health.
He later learns of Jane’s engagement and halts the forthcoming wedding due to an impediment.
She has the task of caring for Rochester’s deranged wife, and is paid well
for the duty. However, she is an alcoholic and this is one of the reasons why Bertha is able to escape from her prison, which in the end has dire consequences for the family.
St. John Rivers
A devout minister, he takes Jane in after she has fled Thornfield, and along
with his two sisters Diana and Mary, cares for her. He intends to serve as a missionary in India, and needs a wife to accompany him. He makes several proposals of marriage to Jane, which she
rejects. It transpires that the Rivers family is related to Jane, and they share in Jane’s inheritance from Uncle John Eyre.
Jane’s uncle, her father’s brother, he obtains great wealth which he leaves
to Jane, having disinherited the Rivers branch of the family.