Charlotte Bronte was born on April 21st 1816 at
Thornton, Bradford in Yorkshire. Charlotte was
raised in a strict Anglican home by her clergyman
father and a religious aunt after her mother and
two eldest siblings died. She and her sister Emily
attended the Clergy Daughter's School at Cowan
Bridge, but were largely educated at home. Though
she tried to earn a living as both a governess and a
teacher. Charlotte missed her sisters and
eventually returned home. Charlotte published her
first novel, Jane Eyre, in 1847 under the manly
pseudonym Currer Bell. Though controversial in its
criticism of society’s treatment of impoverished
women, the book was an immediate hit. She
followed the success with Shirley in 1848
and Vilette in 1853. In 1854, Charlotte married
Arthur Bell Nicholls, but died the following year
during her pregnancy. The first novel she ever
wrote, The Professor, was published
posthumously in 1857.
Introduction to Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre was published in 1847 under the pseudonym Currer Bell. The
novel tells the story of a young woman who, orphaned as a child. It was
very successful , even though there was criticism that her writing was
coarse, doubts about the gender of the author as well as questions
about the morality of the novel. Jane Eyre is a novel which clearly
states the childhood and the adult life of Jane, throughout the novel we
read several different themes one of the most important being inner
beauty at the age of ten years old, Jane is sent away to a school, where
the students fall ill and many die. She remains at the school until she
finds a job as a governess in the home of Edward Rochester. Jane Eyre
has serious things to say about a number of important subjects: the
relations between men and women, women's equality, the treatment of
children and of women, religious faith and religious hypocrisy (and the
difference between the two), the realization of selfhood, and the nature
of true love.
Jane Eyre – The protagonist of the novel.
Mrs. Sarah Reed – Widow of Jane’s uncle.
Eliza Reed – Oldest daughter in the Reed family.
Georgiana Reed – Youngest daughter in the Reed family.
John Reed – Only son in the Reed family, a bully, Jane’s cousin.
Bessie Lee – Servant at Gateshead Hall.
Mrs. Temple – Kind teacher at Lowood School.
Helen Burns – Jane’s best friend at Lowood school.
Mr. Brocklehurst – Headmaster at Lowood School.
Edward Fairfax Rochester – Master of Thornfield Hall.
Bertha Rochester - Mad wife of Edward Rochester.
Adèle – Ward of Mr. Edward Rochester, Jane’s Pupil at Thornfield.
Mrs. Alice Fairfax – Housekeeper at Thornfield Hall.
St. John Eyre Rivers – Minister of the parish at Morton.
Diana & Mary Rivers - Sisters of St. John Rivers.
The protagonist and narrator of the
novel Jane is an intelligent, honest,
plain-featured young girl that has to
face oppression, inequality, and
hardship. Although she meets a series
of people who threaten her autonomy,
Jane repeatedly succeeds at preserving
herself and maintains her principles of
justice, human dignity, and morality.
She also values intellectual and
emotional fulfillment. Her strong belief
in social equality, challenging the
Victorian prejudices against women
Jane’s employer and the master of
Thornfield He is a wealthy, passionate
man with a dark secret that gives the
reader much of the novel’s suspense.
He is unconventional, ready to go
against polite manners, propriety, and
consideration of social class, in order to
interact with Jane frankly and directly.
He is rude, impetuous, and has spent
much of his life roaming about Europe
trying to avoid the consequences of his
youthful past. His problems are partly
the result of his own recklessness, but
he is a sympathetic figure, and has been
describing as a suffering character
because of his early marriage to Bertha.
She is a complex presence. She obstacles
Jane’s happiness, but she also increases the
growth of Jane’s self-understanding. The
mystery surrounding Bertha establishes
suspense and terror to the plot and the
atmosphere. Bertha serves as a reminder of
Rochester’s youthful libertinism. She can
also be interpreted as a symbol: she could
represents Britain’s fear that psychologically
“locked away” the other cultures during the
period of imperialism; Bertha was in fact
from Jamaica. She also could be seen as the
typical Victorian wife who is expected never
to travel or work outside the house. She’s
definitely is linked to the figure of social
inequality of women in 19th century.
St. John Rivers
With his sisters, Mary and Diana He
is described as Jane’s benefactor
after she runs away from
Thornfield, giving her food and
shelter. He is a well-mannered man,
fair, blue-eyed, with a Grecian
profile, but cold and reserved, often
controlled in his interactions with
others. Because he is entirely
alienated from his feelings and
devoted solely to an austere
ambition, he could be seen as a foil
to Edward Rochester.
The novel begins with a ten-year-old orphan named Jane, who is living with her
maternal uncle’s family, the Reeds, at Gateshead. Mrs. Reed and her children take
every opportunity to neglect and abuse her as a reminder of her inferior station. Jane’s
only salvation from her daily humiliations is Bessie, the kindly servant who tells her
stories and sings her songs. One day Jane confronts her bullying cousin, John, Mrs.
Reed imprisons Jane in the red-room, the room where Jane’s uncle died. In this
frightening room, Jane thinks she sees her uncle's ghost, screams and faints. When
she awakes, Jane is being cared for the pharmacist, Mr. Lloyd, who suggests that she
be sent off to school. Mrs. Reed is happy to be rid of her troublesome charge and
immediately sends Jane to the Lowood School. At Lowood, which is run by the cruel
and hypocritical Mr. Brocklehurst, the students never have enough to eat or warm
clothes. Jane finds a pious friend, Helen Burns, and a sympathetic teacher, Miss
Temple. Under their influence, she becomes an excellent student. Unfortunately, an
epidemic of typhus fever breaks out at the school, and Helen dies of consumption.
The deaths by typhus alert the benefactors to the school’s terrible conditions, and it is
revealed that Mr. Brocklehurst has been embezzling school funds in order to provide
for his own luxurious lifestyle. After Mr. Brocklehurst’s removal, Jane spends eight
more years at Lowood, six as a student and two as a teacher. Jane gets a case of
wanderlust and arranges to leave the school and become a governess.The governess
job that Jane accepts is to teach a little French girl, Adèle, at a country house called
Thornfield. Jane goes there thinking that she will be working for a woman named Mrs.
Fairfax, but Mrs. Fairfax is just the housekeeper, who runs the estate during the
master’s absence. Jane likesThornfield, although not the third floor, where a strange
servant named Grace Poole works alone and Jane can hear eerie laughter coming from
a locked room. Jane helps a horseman whose horse has slipped on a patch of ice and
fallen. Jane discovers that this man is Edward Fairfax Rochester, Adèle’s guardian and
the owner ofThornfield Hall. Mr. Rochester is a dark-haired and moody man in his late
thirties. Jane feels an immediate attraction to him based on their intellectual
communion.One night, Jane saves him from a fire in his bedroom. Jane is confused
about the incident, but Mr. Rochester convinces her that there is nothing to worry
Jane sinks into despondency when Rochester invites a bunch of his rich friends to stay
atThornfield, including the beautiful Blanche Ingram. Rochester lets Blanche flirt with
him constantly in front of Jane to make her jealous and pretends that he is engaged to
Blanche. During the weeks-long house party, a man named Richard Mason shows up,
and Rochester seems afraid of him. At night, Mason sneaks up to the third floor and
somehow gets stabbed and bitten. Rochester asks Jane to tend Richard Mason's
wounds secretly while he brings the doctor.The next morning, Rochester sneaks
Mason out of the house. Jane gets a message that herAunt Mrs. Reed, is very sick and
is asking for her. Jane returns to Gateshead to see Mrs. Reed, who is on her deathbed.
Mrs. Reed still dislikes Jane and refuses to apologize for mistreating her as a child, she
also admits that she lied to Jane’s uncle, John Eyre, and told him that she had died
during the typhus outbreak at Lowood.When Jane returns toThornfield, Rochester
tells her that he knows Miss Ingram’s true motivations, so he asks Jane to marry him
and she accepts. It is the day of Jane and Rochester's wedding, but during the church
ceremony, Richard Mason, interrupts the wedding by revealing that Rochester already
has a wife, Mason's sister, Bertha, who is kept in the attic inThornfield under the care
of Grace Poole.
Rochester does not deny Mason’s claims, but he explains that Bertha has gone mad
and he was unaware of her family's history of madness. Jane refuses to be his mistress
and leavesThornfield. Penniless and hungry, Jane is forced to sleep outdoors and beg
for food. Fortunately, the Rivers siblings, St. John, Diana, and Mary, take her into their
home at Moor House and help her to regain her strength. Jane becomes close friends
with the family. St. John finds Jane a position working as a teacher at a school in
Morton. One day, Jane learns that she has inherited a vast fortune of 20,000 pounds
from her uncle, John Eyre. Even more surprising, Jane discovers that the Rivers
siblings are actually her cousins. Jane immediately decides to share her newfound
wealth with her relatives. St. John is going to go on missionary work in India and asks
Jane to accompany him as his wife, but she refuses. Jane supernaturally hears
Rochester’s voice calling her name from somewhere far away. Jane immediately goes
back toThornfield and discovers that the estate has been burned down by Bertha,
who died in the fire, and Rochester has lost his eyesight. Jane goes to Mr. Rochester
hoping he asks her to marry him – and he does.They have a quiet wedding, and after
two years of marriage Rochester gradually gets his sight back and is able to see their
first son at his birth.
The novel goes through five distinct stages (plot)
1. Jane’s childhood at Gateshead, where she is abused by her aunt and
2. Her education at Lowood school, where she acquires friends and role
models, but also suffers privations.
3. Her time as governess at Thornfield, where she falls in love with her
Byronic employer Edward Rochester.
4. Her time with the Rivers family at Morton, where her cold cousin St.
John Rivers proposes to her.
5. Her reunion with her beloved Rochester at his house of Ferdean.
Brontë uses the novel to express her critique ofVictorian class differences. Jane is
consistently a poor individual within a wealthy environment, particularly with the
Reeds and atThornfield. Her poverty creates numerous obstacles for her and her
pursuit of happiness, including personal insecurity and the denial of opportunities.The
beautiful Miss Ingram's higher social standing, for instance, makes her main
competitor for Mr. Rochester’s love, even though Jane is far superior in terms of
intellect and character. Moreover, Jane’s refusal to marry Mr. Rochester because of
their difference in social stations demonstrates her morality and belief in the
importance of personal independence, especially in comparison to Miss Ingram’s gold-
digging inclinations. Although Jane asserts that her poverty does not make her an
inferior person, her eventual ascent out of poverty does help her overcome her
personal obstacles. Not only does she generously divide her inheritance with her
cousins, but her financial independence solves her difficulty with low self-esteem and
allows her to fulfill her desire to be Mr. Rochester’s wife.
In Charlotte Bronte's famous book Jane Eyre, a girl was portrayed that was growing up
around the turn of the nineteenth century. Jane was an orphan with no family or
friends. She was mistreated and misunderstood by the people around her. Jane
seemed doomed for a life of failure, until she decided to go against all odds and stand
up for the life of success she deserved. Jane's actions opened the doors for a new
interpretation of women and showed that it was possible for a woman of the
nineteenth century to achieve independence and success on her own. Women were
seen as trophies and were never meant to develop a mind of their own. Because of this
stereotype, it was difficult for women to be taken seriously. Jane proved to be the
antithesis of all these things. She may have been portrayed as a plain woman, but also
intelligent, strong-willed and self-confident. Jane used these traits as her guide in her
journey to self-fulfillment throughout the novel. Jane had to overcome many barriers
throughout her life. The first of these was the fact that Jane was an orphan since
infancy as well as a member of the lower class. Jane never seemed to fit in at Gates
head where she was absolutely despised by her Aunt Reed and her cousins. Jane was
seen and treated as merely a servant. Similarly Jane was made aware of all that she
Jane receives three different models of Christianity throughout the novel, all of which
she rejects either partly or completely before finding her own way. Mr. Brocklehurst's
Evangelicalism is full of hypocrisy: he spouts off on the benefits of privation and
humility while he indulges in a life of luxury and emotionally abuses the students at
Lowood. Also at Lowood, Helen Burns's Christianity of absolute forgiveness and
tolerance is too meek for Jane's tastes; Helen constantly suffers her punishments
silently and eventually dies. St. John, on the other hand, practices a Christianity of utter
piousness, righteousness, and principle to the exclusion of any passion. Jane rejects his
marriage proposal as much for his detached brand of spirituality as for its certain
intrusion on her independence. However, Jane frequently looks to God in her own way
throughout the book, particularly after she learns of Mr. Rochester's previous marriage
and before St. John takes her to Moor House. She also learns to adapt Helen’s doctrine
of forgiveness without becoming complete passive and returns to Mr. Rochester when
she feels that she is ready to accept him again. The culmination of the book is Jane’s
mystical experience with Mr. Rochester that brings them together through a spirituality
of profound love.
The main quest in Jane Eyre is Jane's search for family, for a sense of belonging and
love. However, this search is constantly tempered by Jane’s need for independence.
She begins the novel as an unloved orphan who is almost obsessed with finding love as
a way to establish her own identity and achieve happiness. Although she does not
receive any parental love from Mrs. Reed, Jane finds surrogate maternal figures
throughout the rest of the novel. Bessie, Miss Temple, and even Mrs. Fairfax care for
Jane and give her the love and guidance that she needs, and she returns the favor by
caring for Adèle and the students at her school. Still, Jane does not feel as though she
has found her true family until she falls in love with Mr. Rochester, he becomes more of
a kindred spirit to her than any one else. However, she is unable to accept Mr.
Rochester’s first marriage proposal because she realizes that their marriage - one
based on unequal social standing. Jane similarly denies St. John's marriage proposal, as
it would be one of duty, not of passion. Only when she gains financial and emotional
autonomy, after having received her inheritance and the familial love of her cousins,
can Jane accept Rochester's offer. In fact, the blinded Rochester is more dependent on
her. Within her marriage to Rochester, Jane finally feels completely liberated, bringing
her dual quests for family and independence to a satisfying conclusion.
Love & Passion
Jane is constantly in a search for love. She searches for romantic love in Rochester,
motherly love through Miss Temple and Mrs. Fairfax, and friendship through the Rivers
siblings and Helen Burns. Jane’s search for love might stem from the scorn she felt as a
child. Jane is extremely passionate, yet also dedicated to a close personal relationship
with God, struggles between either extreme for much of the novel. An instance of her
leaning towards conscience over passion can be seen after it has been revealed that
Mr. Rochester already has a wife, Jane undoubtedly is the central passionate character;
her nature is shot through with passion. Early on, she refuses to live by Mrs. Reed's
rules, which would restrict all passion. Her defiance of Mrs. Reed is her first, but by no
means her last, passionate act. Her passion for Rochester is all consuming. Significantly,
however, it is not the only force that governs her life. She leaves Rochester because her
moral reason tells her that it would be wrong to live with him as his mistress. . Jane
needs to feel loved and appreciated that she would do anything for that to happen.
This is one of Jane’s struggles through her adventure as she is searching for a balanced
life with a family who love her and independence. As Jane matures through her
hardships she learns how to gain love without damaging herself.
External Beauty vs Internal Beauty
Throughout the novel, Brontë plays with the dichotomy between external beauty and
internal beauty. Both Bertha Mason and Blanche Ingram are described as stunningly
beautiful, but, in each case, the external beauty obscures an internal ugliness. Bertha’s
beauty and sensuality blinded Mr. Rochester to her hereditary madness, and it was
only after their marriage that he gradually recognized her true nature. Blanche’s
beauty hides her haughtiness and pride, as well as her desire to marry Mr. Rochester
only for his money.Yet, in Blanche’s case, Mr. Rochester seems to have learned not to
judge by appearances, and he eventually rejects her, despite her beauty. Only Jane,
who lacks the external beauty of typicalVictorian heroines, has the inner beauty that
appeals to Mr. Rochester. Her intelligence, wit, and calm morality express a far greater
personal beauty than that of any other character in the novel, and Brontë clearly
intends to highlight the importance of personal development and growth rather than
superficial appearances. Once Mr. Rochester loses his hand and eyesight, they are also
on equal footing in terms of appearance: both must look beyond superficial qualities
in order to love each other.