Jane Eyre The orphaned protagonist of the story. When the novel begins, she is an isolated, powerless ten-year-old living with an aunt and cousins who dislike her. As the novel progresses, she grows in strength. She distinguishes herself at Lowood School because of her hard work and strong intellectual abilities. As a governess at Thornfield, she learns of the pleasures and pains of love through her relationship with Edward Rochester. After being deceived by him, she goes to Marsh End, where she regains her spiritual focus and discovers her own strength when she rejects St. John River’s marriage proposal. By novel’s end she has become a powerful, independent woman, blissfully married to the man she loves, Rochester.
Edward Fairfax Rochester Jane’s lover; a dark, passionate, brooding man. A traditional romantic hero, Rochester has lived a troubled wife. Married to an insane Creole woman, Bertha Mason, Rochester sought solace for several years in the arms of mistresses. Finally, he seeks to purify his life and wants Jane Eyre, the innocent governess he has hired to teach his foster daughter, Adèle Varens, to become his wife. The wedding falls through when she learns of the existence of his wife. As penance for his transgressions, he is punished by the loss of an eye and a hand when Bertha sets fire to Thornfield. He finally gains happiness at the novel’s end when he is reunited with Jane.
Sarah Reed Jane’s unpleasant aunt, who raises her until she is ten years old. Despite Jane’s attempts at reconciliation before her aunt’s death, her aunt refuses to relent. She dies unloved by her children and unrepentant of her mistreatment of Jane.John Reed Jane’s nasty and spoiled cousin, responsible for Jane’s banishment to the red-room. Addicted to drinking and gambling, John supposedly commits suicide at the age of twenty-three when his mother is no longer willing or able to pay his debts.