Jane Eyre

Outer characterization

Jane is the main character of the novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. The novel starts when Jane is ten years old and living with her aunt Mrs Reed at Gateshead. Jane’s father was a poor clergyman, and her mother was disowned after marrying him. After their death, when Jane was only a few months old, she was taken in by her uncle Reed, who had a close relationship with his sister, Jane’s mother. Mr Reed’s dying wish was that Jane would be brought up by his wife as one of their own children. 

The novel mostly follows Jane as an eighteen and nineteen-year-old as she is employed as a governess by Rochester at Thornfield and while she is at Moor House, where she discovers her cousins, St John, Diana, and Mary Rivers. She also receives a sizeable inheritance from her estranged uncle, John Eyre, which she splits between herself and the Rivers. 

Physically, Jane is described as small and very plain: “I was so little, so pale, and had features so irregular and so marked” (Chapter 11, 38%). She has green eyes (Chapter 34, 47%) and St John notices that “ ‘the grace and harmony of beauty are quite wanting in [her] features’ ” (Chapter 29, 13%). She usually wears simple dresses in plain, dark colors. 

Inner characterization

Jane has a strong sense of self and desires to be independent

Jane receives a good education and works hard at her school in order to be accomplished

I had the means of an excellent education placed within my reach, a fondness for some of my studies, and a desire to excel in all, together with a great delight in pleasing my teachers (…) In time I rose to be the first girl of the first class; then I was invested with the office of teacher; (Chapter 10, 7%)

Jane desires to make her own way in the world and uses her education to be able to achieve that. When she decides to leave Lowood, she proves resourceful as she advertises and finds a new position on her own. 

At the same time, Jane dislikes routine and inactivity and yearns for a life in which she does not feel limited or denied fulfilling experiences. Because of this, Jane desires independence to be able to do everything she wishes and not be limited by her gender or class. 

Jane is honest, though sometimes blunt in her honesty, and is not afraid to speak her mind:

Your garb and manner were restricted by rule; your air was often diffident, and altogether that of one ...

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