Jane Eyre: Characters Flashcard Example #62166

Jane Eyre
The development of Jane Eyre’s character is central to the novel. From the beginning, Jane possesses a sense of her self-worth and dignity, a commitment to justice and principle, a trust in God, and a passionate disposition. Her integrity is continually tested over the course of the novel, and Jane must learn to balance the frequently conflicting aspects of herself so as to find contentment.
Edward Rochester
Despite his stern manner and not particularly handsome appearance, Edward Rochester wins Jane’s heart, because she feels they are kindred spirits, and because he is the first person in the novel to offer Jane lasting love and a real home. Although Rochester is Jane’s social and economic superior, and although men were widely considered to be naturally superior to women in the Victorian period, Jane is Rochester’s intellectual equal. Moreover, after their marriage is interrupted by the disclosure that Rochester is already married to Bertha Mason, Jane is proven to be Rochester’s moral superior.
St. John Rivers
St. John Rivers is a foil to Edward Rochester. Whereas Rochester is passionate, St. John is austere and ambitious. Jane often describes Rochester’s eyes as flashing and flaming, whereas she constantly associates St. John with rock, ice, and snow. Marriage with Rochester represents the abandonment of principle for the consummation of passion, but marriage to St. John would mean sacrificing passion for principle. When he invites her to come to India with him as a missionary, St. John offers Jane the chance to make a more meaningful contribution to society than she would as a housewife. At the same time, life with St. John would mean life without true love, in which Jane’s need for spiritual solace would be filled only by retreat into the recesses of her own soul. Independence would be accompanied by loneliness, and joining St. John would require Jane to neglect her own legitimate needs for love and emotional support. Her consideration of St. John’s proposal leads Jane to understand that, paradoxically, a large part of one’s personal freedom is found in a relationship of mutual emotional dependence.
Helen Burns
Helen Burns, Jane’s friend at Lowood School, serves as a foil to Mr. Brocklehurst as well as to Jane. While Mr. Brocklehurst embodies an evangelical form of religion that seeks to strip others of their excessive pride or of their ability to take pleasure in worldly things, Helen represents a mode of Christianity that stresses tolerance and acceptance. Brocklehurst uses religion to gain power and to control others; Helen ascetically trusts her own faith and turns the other cheek to Lowood’s harsh policies.
Bessie Lee
The maid at Gateshead, Bessie is the only figure in Jane’s childhood who regularly treats her kindly, telling her stories and singing her songs. Bessie later marries Robert Leaven, the Reeds’ coachman.
Mr. Lloyd
Mr. Lloyd is the Reeds’ apothecary, who suggests that Jane be sent away to school. Always kind to Jane, Mr. Lloyd writes a letter to Miss Temple confirming Jane’s story about her childhood and clearing Jane of Mrs. Reed’s charge that she is a liar.
Georgiana Reed
Georgiana Reed is Jane’s cousin and one of Mrs. Reed’s two daughters. The beautiful Georgiana treats Jane cruelly when they are children, but later in their lives she befriends her cousin and confides in her. Georgiana attempts to elope with a man named Lord Edwin Vere, but her sister, Eliza, alerts Mrs. Reed of the arrangement and sabotages the plan. After Mrs. Reed dies, Georgiana marries a wealthy man.
Eliza Reed
Eliza Reed is Jane’s cousin and one of Mrs. Reed’s two daughters (along with her sister, Georgiana). Not as beautiful as her sister, Eliza devotes herself somewhat self-righteously to the church and eventually goes to a convent in France where she becomes the Mother Superior.
John Reed
John Reed is Jane’s cousin, Mrs. Reed’s son, and brother to Eliza and Georgiana. John treats Jane with appalling cruelty during their childhood and later falls into a life of drinking and gambling. John commits suicide midway through the novel when his mother ceases to pay his debts for him.
Mr. Brocklehurst
The cruel, hypocritical master of the Lowood School, Mr. Brocklehurst preaches a doctrine of privation, while stealing from the school to support his luxurious lifestyle. After a typhus epidemic sweeps Lowood, Brocklehurst’s shifty and dishonest practices are brought to light and he is publicly discredited.
Maria Temple
Maria Temple is a kind teacher at Lowood, who treats Jane and Helen with respect and compassion. Along with Bessie Lee, she serves as one of Jane’s first positive female role models. Miss Temple helps clear Jane of Mrs. Reed’s accusations against her.
Miss Scatchard
Jane’s sour and vicious teacher at Lowood, Miss Scatcherd behaves with particular cruelty toward Helen.
Alice Fairfax
Alice Fairfax is the housekeeper at Thornfield Hall. She is the first to tell Jane that the mysterious laughter often heard echoing through the halls is, in fact, the laughter of Grace Poole—a lie that Rochester himself often repeats.
Bertha Mason
Rochester’s clandestine wife, Bertha Mason is a formerly beautiful and wealthy Creole woman who has become insane, violent, and bestial. She lives locked in a secret room on the third story of Thornfield and is guarded by Grace Poole, whose occasional bouts of inebriation sometimes enable Bertha to escape. Bertha eventually burns down Thornfield, plunging to her death in the flames.
Grace Poole
Grace Poole is Bertha Mason’s keeper at Thornfield, whose drunken carelessness frequently allows Bertha to escape. When Jane first arrives at Thornfield, Mrs. Fairfax attributes to Grace all evidence of Bertha’s misdeeds.
Adele Varens
Grace Poole is Bertha Mason’s keeper at Thornfield, whose drunken carelessness frequently allows Bertha to escape. When Jane first arrives at Thornfield, Mrs. Fairfax attributes to Grace all evidence of Bertha’s misdeeds.
Celine Varens
Celine Varens is a French opera dancer with whom Rochester once had an affair. Although Rochester does not believe Celine’s claims that he fathered her daughter Adele, he nonetheless brought the girl to England when Celine abandoned her. Rochester had broken off his relationship with Celine after learning that Celine was unfaithful to him and interested only in his money.
Sophie
Sophie is Adele’s French nurse at Thornfield.
Richard Mason
Richard Mason is Bertha’s brother. During a visit to Thornfield, he is injured by his mad sister. After learning of Rochester’s intent to marry Jane, Mason arrives with the solicitor Briggs in order to thwart the wedding and reveal the truth of Rochester’s prior marriage.
Mr. Briggs
John Eyre’s attorney, Mr. Briggs helps Richard Mason prevent Jane’s wedding to Rochester when he learns of the existence of Bertha Mason, Rochester’s wife. After John Eyre’s death, Briggs searches for Jane in order to give her her inheritance.
Blanche Ingram
Blanche Ingram is a beautiful socialite who despises Jane and hopes to marry Rochester for his money.
Diana Rivers
Diana Rivers is Jane’s cousin, and the sister of St. John and Mary. Diana is a kind and intelligent person, and she urges Jane not to go to India with St. John. She serves as a model for Jane of an intellectually gifted and independent woman.
Mary Rivers
Mary Rivers is Jane’s cousin, the sister of St. John and Diana. Mary is a kind and intelligent young woman who is forced to work as a governess after her father loses his fortune. Like her sister, she serves as a model for Jane of an independent woman who is also able to maintain close relationships with others and a sense of meaning in her life.
Rosamond Oliver
Rosamond is the beautiful daughter of Mr. Oliver, Morton’s wealthiest inhabitant. Rosamond gives money to the school in Morton where Jane works. Although she is in love with St. John, she becomes engaged to the wealthy Mr. Granby.
John Eyre
John Eyre is Jane’s uncle, who leaves her his vast fortune of 20,000 pounds.
Uncle Reed
Uncle Reed is Mrs. Reed’s late husband. In her childhood, Jane believes that she feels the presence of his ghost. Because he was always fond of Jane and her mother (his sister), Uncle Reed made his wife promise that she would raise Jane as her own child. It is a promise that Mrs. Reed does not keep.

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