Characters / Jane Eyre

Characters of the novel Jane Eyre

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    Jane Eyre 

The heroine and narrator of the novel. Jane is a young woman, looking back on her life of an orphan and a governess.

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Averted. Jane is neither unaware of nor willing to tolerate Mr. Rochester's faults, although she does think she can change him.
  • Bookworm: Jane reads a lot. Even in her very first scene, she seeks refuge in the library with a book.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: She gets to call her aunt out at least once for mistreating her.
  • Cinderella Circumstances: She is a daughter of a rich gentry woman and a clergyman. However, her parents died. Her mother's brother kindly took her as his own daughter, but unfortunately he died as well. His wife treats her as the worst wicked stepmother there ever was.
  • Deadpan Snarker: "I had green eyes, reader, but for him they were newly dyed, I suppose."
  • Did You Think I Can't Feel?: Twice: Once when she calls the old aunt out, and asks her Aunt Sarah if she thinks she could live without any kindness or sympathy. The other time is when she gets provoked by Mr. Rochester into the "our spirits are equal, yadda yadda" speech.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: As a child. She even tells Helen that she'd willingly get kicked by a horse if it would make Helen love her.
  • Loved I Not Honor More: Jane loves Rochester but she will not be his mistress.
  • Mama Bear: Towards Adèle. She doesn't take it well when people mistreat her, but as a governess, she often can't do a lot.
  • Orphan's Ordeal: Both her parents died when she was very little (practically a baby). Her uncle Reed loved his sister and took her as his own, but he died soon too, and her aunt hated her like plague. Her relatives from her father's side exist, but they come in the picture much later in the story. Part of it was Mrs Reed's doing.
  • Plain Jane: She considers herself very plain although it's hinted that she's more attractive than she gives herself credit for.
  • Plucky Girl: Jane talks back to authority figures, stands up to her domineering love interest and generally asserts herself.
  • Private Tutor: She has been hired by Rochester to teach his ward, Adele.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Had one with Helen Burns. It ended tragically with Helen's death.
  • Spirited Young Lady: She's not afraid to talk and she acts quite freely. However, her lowly position as a governess makes her sometimes appear less lively than this archetype character typically does.
  • Tragic Bromance: With Helen Burns. Helen is the first person other than Bessie to ever treat Jane with kindness, even after Jane is publicly humiliated by Mr. Brocklehurst. Helen sort of takes Jane under her wing and Jane idolizes her utterly, but Helen knows she is not long for this world and tries to prepare Jane accordingly.
  • Unexpected Inheritance: She ends up inheriting a large fortune from paternal uncle, whom she never met in person.
  • The Unfavorite: Her aunt absolutely despised her. The reason was that Jane was a favourite of her late husband who seemed to prefer little Jane over his own children. She also didn't approve of Jane's character who was not a traditionally cute child.
  • Well Done Daughter Girl: When she goes back to visit Mrs. Reed Jane would genuinely like to make peace with her aunt but Mrs. Reed is incapable of admitting herself wrong.

    Mr. Edward Fairfax Rochester 

Mysterious owner of Thornfield Hall, Jane's employer and love of her life.

  • Arranged Marriage: His father and the Masons of Jamaica arranged a marriage between young Edward Rochester, a younger son of rich, well-connected family who would not inherit anything, and Bertha Mason, an heiress of large fortune and a beauty. Unfortunately she turns out lecherous, depraved and mad.
  • Badass Baritone: He has a very fine singing voice in addition to being muscular in build and athletic.
  • Break the Haughty: Very prideful at the beginning, and he ends up partially blind and missing a hand in the end.
  • Byronic Hero: He's dark and troubled, snarky, cynical and attractive despite his lack of good looks. Society frowns upon his loner's ways, but deep down he's a good person who suffered horribly; though admittedly, some of it was at least partly his doing and his fault.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He snarks a lot at practically everybody. He's so deadpan that he manages to play a role of a gypsy woman, telling fortune to several female characters. Only one of them figures it out. Also a Gentleman Snarker, in class if not manners.
  • Gold Digger: Married Bertha for her money, and also for her renowned beauty. However, it was mostly due to his family's meddling. His father and his elder brother wanted him to be wealthy and genteel. Little did they know what they had got him into.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He can sometimes come off as a downright asshole, but he takes good care of his servants, and is raising a little girl who's most likely not his biological daughter.
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: His European lovers were all pretty but shallow women. Readers know Céline's backstory as she is simply the only mistress Rochester tells her about because she is Adele's mother. He tells Jane there have been other women, but none of them were what he wanted in a long-tern relationship. He later mentions an Italian woman named Giacinta and a German woman named Clara.
  • Manipulative Bastard: He plays many strange tricks on Jane to make her jealous and to keep her from finding out about Bertha.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: He's described as very dark and nearly black. He compares himself to Hephaistos, a Greek god of fire and black-smithery—Jane agrees. He appears intimidating to nearly everybody. It's partly his defence mechanism because he suffered a lot, but it's easy to imagine him as a snarker even in his young age with his family.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Eventually recovers from the fire at Thornfield, which Bertha caused. In particular his sight returns.
  • The Unfavorite: So Rochester claims. He had an older brother, who his father liked more. Certainly, his father did refuse to split the inheritance and give him his fair share.

    Mrs. Sarah Reed 
  • Abusive Parent: She abuses little Jane, who is her late husband's niece and is supposed to live in her household. Mrs. Reed hates Jane and hates that her husband made her promise to take care of her.
  • Break the Haughty: She a very proud and haughty rich woman at the beginning of the novel. Her son failed her, however, ruining their family. She's also very uncomfortable being humbled by Jane.
  • Doting Parent: To her own children. They do not thank her for it. Especially John.
  • Jerkass: She's mean and nasty to Jane, never showing her a shade of affection, yet believes herself to be her nice benefactress, worthy of praise and admiration.
  • Karmic Death: She never did anything to redeem herself and never regretted the way she treated her poor orphaned niece. She died when her son was dead, her family in debts and her daughters barely caring for her. A sad fate, but one she truly deserved.
  • Kick the Dog: Concealing Jane's existence from her existing relatives
  • Parental Substitute: A very, very poor one to Jane. She regarded Jane as her poor relative and not a niece under her care.
  • Rich Bitch: She's a rich gentry woman of good family who married well and very proud of it.
  • Wicked Stepmother: She's Jane's aunt-by-marriage, but it still applies. Jane's an orphan and she treats her horribly.
  • Widow Woman: Her husband died. She's never shown missing him. She promised him she would take care of his niece, but regretted that he made her promise that.

    John Reed 
  • Beauty Is Bad: When meeting up with an older Jane, Bessie describes his grown-up self as this. He's tall and handsome, if fat, but still treats everyone like shit.
  • The Bully: He abuses Jane nearly constantly, both physically and verbally.
  • Driven to Suicide: His wild life and immense card debts drive him to shoot himself.
  • Fat Bastard: Was always a bastard, but when he's an adult, several characters describe him as fat.
  • The Hedonist: Like Georgiana, he was entirely driven by appetites—as a child, this manifested in bullying and torturing small animals; as an adult, it meant drinking, gambling, and other sundries.
  • Karmic Death: Though the karma is more visited upon his mother than him. Mrs. Reed spoils him as a child and lets him do whatever he wants, and as an adult he drives the family to ruin, takes no responsibility for his actions, and commits suicide, ending the family name with him and ruining all that his mother had lived for.
  • Momma's Boy: His mother loves him and gives him everything he wants, though he treats her like crap.
  • Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: Maturity does not improve John, he remains a bully lifelong.
  • Spoiled Brat: Had Mrs. Reed been a better parent, he might have turned out differently. But his mother never refused his requests, thinking he was a genius and well behaved.

    Georgiana Reed 
  • Brainless Beauty: Whatever brains she might have, she's never been encouraged to use, so she's a well-dressed airhead. Jane says that as an adult, Georgiana got fat, but Victorians saw plumpness as attractive, so this trope still holds.
  • Dumb Blonde: Described as having golden curls, which explains why she's been adored since she was a child — Victorians saw gold hair as practically angelic on young children. Georgiana also has very little smarts, and no work ethic at all.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: With Eliza, at least when they're both adults.
  • The Hedonist: Jane observes she likes enjoying herself, and resents having to be in mourning because that means no parties and no fun.
  • Spoiled Brat: Her mother indulged her children quite excessively and it shows. Georgiana is quarrelsome, whiny and expects others to be taking care of her.

    Eliza Reed 
  • Creature of Habit: Jane observes she sticks to a self-set rigid schedule and that she meticulously plans her days.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: With Georgiana. Bessie says they argued a lot, especially when Georgiana nearly ran off with a Lord.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Downplayed in how she treats Jane after growing up. They aren't friends, but she does admit they are equals, and when they say their good-byes she sincerely wishes Jane well.
  • The Spock: Jane thinks she's all sense and no heart.
  • Taking the Veil: As an adult, she ends up converting to Catholicism and ultimately becomes a nun—Eliza joins a convent shortly after her mother dies and eventually becomes the Mother Superior.

    Bessie Lee 
  • Brutal Honesty: She's able to tell Jane in her face that she's no beauty and that she never was very pretty. She's not unkind, though.
  • Maid: She works as a maid in Mrs Reed's house.
  • Only Sane Woman: She's the only reasonable person in Gateshead. Pity she's a servant and has no influence.
  • Happily Married: She's happily married and has several children when she and Jane reunite after eight years.
  • Parental Substitute: She's a much better mother figure for Jane than Mrs.Reed, and Jane always remembered her fondly after leaving the Reed home.
  • Team Mom: The nanny at the Reed's home, and among the few that treated Jane more or less well. Though ideally she would have been more actively kind and more affectionate towards Jane.

    Mr. Brocklehurst 
  • Corrupt Church: Corrupt churchman
  • Hiding Behind Religion / The Fundamentalist: It's unclear exactly how much of his own cant he believes, but he preaches it loud and clear.
  • Holier Than Thou: Shown especially in the scene when he forces a girl to cut her naturally curly hair when his own wife and daughters wear fake curls.
  • Hypocrite: In how he provides for his family, as opposed to how he provides for the girls at Lowood. Bites him in the ass badly later.
  • Jerkass: He's a mean one. He treats the orphaned girls and their teachers like they're worthless. He's evil and stupid, and he doesn't even know it.
  • Sinister Minister: As a clergyman of rich, honourable and influential family, he has quite a strong position, but he has a sick, twisted mind. For instance, he scares Jane with his idea of hell and horrible religious teachings.

    Maria Temple 
  • Cool Big Sis: She becomes one to Jane when Jane grows up and becomes a teacher at Lowood.
  • Cool Teacher: She's very intelligent and treats her girls wonderfully.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: She's never tinged by the evilness of the school.
  • Names to Trust Immediately: Miss Temple cannot be a bad person, can she?
  • Nice Girl: She's wonderful to Jane and Helen, treating them like her equals (an adult woman to little girls in Regency England, no less) or like an affectionate friend.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The headmistress of a practically Spartan school, Miss Temple is nevertheless kind to the girls and insists that they be given decent food, and enough food at that, despite Mr. Brocklehurst's idea of an adequate budget.

    Helen Burns 
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: Her insistence on bearing harsh punishment and other injustice patiently and ability to forgive these actions and even justify them by putting the blame on her own behavior comes from a strong belief in the the Biblical exhortations to do good for evil. Helen's attitude, which is also rooted in hopes of attaining a blissful state in the world to come at the expense of her interests in this life, comes across as this trope to the rational-minded reader; Jane herself is somewhat influenced by Helen's doctrine to change her own attitudes on the matter but cannot bring herself to be completely focused on the next world and continues to care about attaining happiness in this life as well.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Jane climbs to her bed and they fall asleep together. Helen never wakes up. Jane only remember that somebody lifted her up and took away.
  • Genius Slob: Helen is described as a mature and brilliant student, but also as perpetually untidy. At one point Miss Scatcherd beats her for having dirty nails, another time writes the word SLATTERN (slob) on a piece of cardboard and ties it to Helen's head. Helen justifies it all: "I am, as Miss Scatcherd said, slatternly; I seldom put, and never keep, things in order; I am careless; I forget rules; I read when I should learn my lessons; I have no method; and sometimes I say, like you, I cannot bear to be subjected to systematic arrangements." As Helen is based closely on Charlotte's sister Maria, we can guess that all this was true of her as well.
  • Ill Girl: She suffers from consumption, poor lamb. It's portrayed quite realistically.note 
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Nothing could break her sweet nature though she had to put up with lots of ugly things.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Her cough is one of the signs that she's not going to make it.
  • Kill the Cutie: It breaks readers' hearts to see this lovely girl die.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: She was extremely close with Jane.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: She was the sweetest, cutest girl imaginable and her spirit was noble and dignified (almost scary for a child). Such girls are not made for this evil world. She would suffer too much.note 

    Mrs. Alice Fairfax 
  • Apron Matron: She's a housekeeper at Thornfield and she has mother-like vibes about most most characters. She might not be the most perceptive or the brightest woman on Earth, but she is kind and caring.
  • Cool Old Lady: She's all right. She has some kind of motherly affection for Jane and Adele. Other servants at Thornfield seem a fairly happy lot, so it's clear she treats them fine.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: She's an older woman but treats Jane kindly and is happy to have an equal companion. Jane likes her though admits that Mrs. Fairfax seems a tad simpleminded.
  • Stepford Smiler: Mrs. Fairfax is always pleasant, despite the implications that she knows, and disapproves, of her master's behavior. Even when she talks to Jane about the marriage proposal, it is in the spirit of a friendly warning and nothing more, despite her alarm.

    Adèle Varens 
  • Deliberately Cute Child: She's adorable and she knows it. She likes pretty dresses and pretty flowers.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Mr. Rochester's ward is the daughter of his then mistress, who sent him the baby after he had dismissed her when he learned she was unfaithful to him. She said the child was his; he assures Jane that he has his doubts, and even Jane figures that Adele probably isn't his daughter (she bears virtually no resemblance to him).
  • Missing Mom: Her mother abandoned her and never cared for her after that, but Adele thinks she died.
  • Morality Pet: To Rochester. The man has serious issues, but his treatment of Adele shows him in his best light. He gave her a good home even though she's most likely not his biological daughter. He's somewhat unaffectionate to her, but he's never abusive. All in all, what Rochester does for the little girl is admirable.
  • Parental Abandonment: She believes her mother has died, but Rochester seems to imply that her mother just dumped her and ran off. Her father is not in the picture because Rochester considers her his ward and not an illegitimate daughter.

    Blanche Ingram 
  • Child Hater: She has no patience for Adèle and is making plans to pack her off to boarding school almost immediately after setting foot in Rochester's home.
  • Curtains Match the Window: She's "as dark as a Spaniard" with brown hair and eyes.
  • Gold Digger: She's from a good family, but had virtually no dowry. She wants to marry Rochester for his money, big fancy house and vast property.
  • Jerkass: She's quite cruel to people, especially to Jane and little Adele. She also stealthily insulted one sweet lady of her social standing, abusing her slightly superior knowledge.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Because Blanche is after money and position and because she is extremely rude to Jane, Rochester's callous treatment of Blanche's hopes for marriage at the age of twenty-five are not lingered on long.
  • Rich Bitch: She's a beautiful woman who comes from a wealthy and socially prominent family, but aside from her obvious problems of her personality, her lack of luck in marriage (she's currently 25 and still isn't married) implies that, despite her wealth and beauty, she's not terribly popular.

    Grace Poole 
  • The Caretaker: She's a nurse to mad Bertha Rochester.
  • Lady Drunk: It's implied that she really enjoys her whiskey.
  • Maid: She's a servant hired to work at Thornfield.
  • Red Herring: For a long time Jane believes her to be the "ghost" of Thornfield and leads readers to think so as well.

    Bertha Antonietta Mason (aka Bertha Rochester) 
  • Adaptational Heroism: Aside from getting her own starring role in the Perspective Flip novel Wide Sargasso Sea (written by Jean Rhys), Bertha takes a heroic role during her brief appearance in The Eyre Affair. She comes to Mr. Rochester's rescue to help him fight the evil Acheron Hades, and even wields Hades' great weakness — silver.
  • Ambiguous Disorder Some of her appearance suggests she's hypermanic, some of her behaviour suggests severe dementia, some of it is like very severe autism, though that was hardly going to have developed in adulthood. (It doesn't help that her description sounds like she's badly neglected- however difficult she is, Grace could at least do something with her hair.) Justified, as this was long before any modern language about mental illness was in use even by experts.
  • Arranged Marriage: To Rochester. They weren't a great match.
  • Ax-Crazy: Her madness has violent nature. She bites people and likes setting things on fire.
  • Criminal Doppelgänger: Bertha and Blanche look a lot alike, so much so that Rochester even says Bertha was a beauty in the style of Blanche Ingram.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: She was dark-skinned and dark-haired, but when she's in Thornfield, she's creepily pale with purple face and bloated features. Jane says she looks like a ghost.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Bertha was quite the drinker when she was younger.
  • In the Blood: Madness runs in Mason's family among women.
  • Jerkass: Rochester implies that she was very mean even before she went insane.
  • Laughing Mad: Her fits of laughing scare the crap out of Jane.
  • Madwoman in the Attic: The Trope Namer, as the trope was originally named after her. She was also a codifier in that she was locked up in the attic.
  • Pyro Maniac: She seems to like fire a lot. She nearly burned Mr Rochester in his bed once, and she's responsible for the fire revealed at the end of the book.
  • Really Gets Around: Again according to Rochester promiscuity was just the first of her problems.
  • Walking Spoiler: And how.

    Richard Mason 
  • Big Brother Instinct: Saves his sister's honour by stopping the wedding of Rochester to Jane, which would have been illegal as Bertha is still alive.
  • Chick Magnet: Rochester's female guests take quite a shine to him.
  • Extreme Doormat: He behaves very submissively to Mr. Rochester. Said gentleman doesn't take it too well, but at least he appreciates that he's capable of feeling.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: To be fair, it was probably quite a painful wound, but he was ready to give up and die after Bertha attacks him.
  • Uncanny Valley: In-Universe, Jane describes him as being right out of it:
    "...I like his physiognomy even less than before: it struck me as being, at the same time, unsettled and inanimate. His eye wandered, and had no meaning in its wandering: this gave him an odd look, such as I never remembered to have seen. For a handsome and not unamiable-looking man, he repelled me exceedingly..."

    St. John Eyre Rivers 
  • Big Brother Instinct: To Diana and Mary. He's also this to Jane, although he later gets other ideas...
  • Dying Alone: It's mentioned at the end that he died alone as a missionary in India.
  • The Fundamentalist: St. John is just as hardcore religious as Brocklehurst, only he is entirely sincere about it. He believes he must be a missionary and that to do less is to ignore God's plans for him. He goes so far as to accuse Jane of refusing God by refusing to marry him.
  • Impoverished Patrician: The Rivers are an ancient family and Marsh End has been their house for over two hundred years. The Rivers siblings' mother was an educated gentlewoman. Their father went bankrupt over a speculation and died. The family has their house but no money or land. St. John became a clergyman, so his position in society is strong thanks to his birth and sacred profession.
  • Long-Lost Relative: He is Jane's previously unknown cousin.
  • The Missionary: His ultimate career choice. He sees it as his noble calling.
  • Pretty Boy: Jane describes him very handsome, tall, fair-haired and blue-eyed. He's compared to a God from classical mythology.
  • Promotion to Parent: His sisters are a little younger and they all take care of each other.
  • Rescue Romance: It's not a romance but St. John is trying to 'rescue' Jane from Rochester's dishonorable wiles. He recognizes that she, like him, is a misfit in pre-Victorian England and believes that his solution - missionary work - will also work for her and keep her safe from temptation. Jane herself realizes that her cousin meant well by her in his manipulative way hence her willingness to correspond with him after she's married Rochester and he's gone to India.
  • The Spock: Avoids emotional displays, represses amorous desire, and dismisses love as a distraction from God's work. In his proposal to Jane, he all but tells her that their marriage would be "logical".

    Diana and Mary Rivers 
  • Cool Big Sis: Both become loving (adoptive) siblings to Jane.
  • Happily Married: They get married to excellent men and both Diana and Mary love their husbands who in turn love them. Jane thinks they are worthy of the connection, and that's saying a lot because Jane thinks very highly of her cousins.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Their family is noble but their father lost their property and was not rich enough to give them dowries. They must provide for themselves and work as governesses. They gain nice property when Jane splits her inheritance among them in equal share because they are cousins and all were related to the wealthy uncle.
  • Long-Lost Relative: They take Jane under their wing, not knowing they are in fact her paternal cousins.
  • Nice Girls: They are extremely nice to Jane, a stanger who knocks on their house, half starved to death and ill. They nurse her to health and offer her their home.
  • Private Tutor: Both work as governesses for wealthy families who treat them badly, as is usual.
  • Spirited Young Lady: Diana Rivers is a strong woman and natural leader who is not afraid to joke with her strict brother St. John. Younger Mary is quieter and her disposition is less cheerful than Diana's.
  • Shipper on Deck: They silently support their brother's love for Miss Rosamond Oliver and they later switch teams and think he should marry Jane.

    Rosamond Oliver 
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Jane describes her as extremely beautiful with nearly every feature perfect. She's a bit vain, but amiable.
  • Daddy's Girl: Her father loves her more than anything.
  • Spoiled Sweet: She's a spoilt girl who knew nothing but indulgence, but she's never jerkish or proud. She helps to establish a village school for kids and she's really kind to Jane, a poor teacher with no connections. Rosamond admires Jane's education and accomplishments.

    Mr. John Eyre 
  • Bus Crash: Jane, as well as the readers, never get to meet him. He dies and leaves his fortune to Jane.
  • The Ghost: He's spoken of quite a lot, but he never appears himself.
  • Long-Lost Relative: He's Jane's paternal uncle. He wanted to take care of Jane at one point, but Mrs Reed lied to him that Jane had died. He only finds out otherwise when Jane writes him about her impending marriage.
  • Self-Made Man: He's a businessman who represented a wine-selling company. He has made quite a fortune.