The novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë features a large cast of characters. The main character and narrator of the story is Jane Eyre, whose life the novel follows for roughly twenty years. Jane is an example of a respectable English woman with a strong sense of self who desires to be independent.
Another important character is Edward Rochester. He is a wealthy man and the master of Thornfield. He tells Mrs Fairfax, the housekeeper at Thornfield, to employ Jane as a governess for his ward, Adèle Varens. Rochester is attracted to Jane but he pretends he wishes to marry the beautiful socialite Blanche Ingram to make Jane jealous. Eventually, he and Jane confess their feelings for each other and get engaged, but their wedding is ruined by the disclosure that Rochester already has a wife, Bertha Mason, who is kept hidden on the third floor of Thornfield. As a man ruled by passion and tormented by his marriage to Bertha, Rochester tries to make Jane his mistress. It is only after he repents for his sins that Rochester can be happy.
St John Rivers is another important character in Jane’s story. He is a charitable priest who takes Jane in after she runs away from Thornfield and is homeless. However, St John is also a cold and ambitious man who tries to convince Jane to marry him and go to India as missionaries even though the two do not love each other. Unlike St John, his sisters, Diana and Mary Rivers, are kind and understanding and become Jane’s close companions.
Other characters include Jane’s adoptive family at Gateshead: Mrs Reed and her children John, Eliza, and Georgiana Reed, as well as their nursemaid Bessie. The mean and stingy manager of Lowood, Mr Brocklehurst, and Bertha’s keeper at Thornfield, Grace Poole, are also worth mentioning.
Jane’s relationship to these characters evolves in different ways as the story progresses. Some of these relationships help Jane grow and become her own woman.