Chapter one introduces Jane, the narrator of the story, her aunt Mrs. Reed, and her cousins, Eliza, John and Georgiana Reed. Ten-year old Jane lives at the Reed's Gateshead Hall. It becomes obvious that Jane's place in the household is not a comfortable one, and Mrs. Reed does not think highly of her. Jane tries to remain unnoticed in the drawing room reading on a rainy day, but John Reed, the fourteen-year-old son of Mrs. Reed, soon finds her. Jane lives in terror of John, as he bullies and punishes her without end. John becomes angry that Jane is reading one of their books, and says that she is a dependent there, has no money, and should not "live [there] with gentlemen's children like [them]." John throws the book at Jane, causing her to fall and cut her head against the door. Jane then fights against him, and when Mrs. Reed enters the room she sends Jane to be locked in the red-room.
"I resisted all the way: a new thing for me." Jane states as Bessie, the nurse, tries to take her away. She tells Jane that she should not act so, as she is in debt to Mrs. Reed and is not equal to the Misses or Mr. Reed. When Bessie leaves her alone, Jane wonders why it is that she is always thought to be bad no matter how she tries to please, and why John is not punished for hitting her. Jane thinks that Mr. Reed, her uncle who had died nine years before, would not treat her so. The red-room where Jane is locked is the room where Mr. Reed had died, and on thinking of this, Jane believes she sees something in the room with her and rushes to shake the locked door. Bessie soon comes running, but Mrs. Reed pushes Jane back into the room and locks the door. Jane falls unconscious.
The next thing Jane remembers is waking up in her own bed. Mr. Lloyd, the apothecary, comes to see her, and the next day she is up and about, though her nerves are still shaken. Bessie is especially nice to Jane, but Jane feels as if she cannot eat or read. Bessie sings to her, and Jane gets sad over her state and cries. When Mr. Lloyd comes again and asks why she has been crying, she states that she is miserable because she has no father or mother and that Gateshead is not her house. He asks if she has any other relations, and she answers that Mrs. Reed said that she might, but that they must be beggars. When asked, she admits that she would not like to belong to poor people. When asked if she would like to go to school, Jane says yes. While listening to Bessie talk when she thinks Jane is asleep, Jane learns that her father was a poor clergyman, and that her mother's grandfather (Reed) disowned her when she married him. They both died of typhus fever.
Weeks pass without mention of Jane going to school. When Jane hears Mrs. Reed telling John not to talk to Jane, Jane replies that he and his sisters are not fit to associate with her. Mrs. Reed becomes angry and locks Jane in her room. Jane wonders to Mrs. Reed what her uncle, mother and father would say about her behavior towards her. November, December and half of January pass with Jane not being involved in any of the holiday activities, and then Jane is called downstairs to meet with Mrs. Reed and a stranger who has come.
Jane nervously enters the room and meets Mr. Brocklehurst of Lowood School. It is decided that Jane will be sent to Lowood, and Mrs. Reed tells Mr. Brocklehurst that they should keep a strict eye on Jane, as she has a tendency to deceit. Jane realizes that Mrs. Reed is trying to sow aversion and unkindness upon Jane's new phase of life and obliterate hope of things being different there. Mr. Brocklehurst says that he will speak to Miss Temple and the teachers about Jane. When he is gone Jane tells Mrs. Reed that she is not deceitful, that she does not love her, and that in the entire world she only dislikes John more. She also says that Georgiana is the liar, not her. After the fight, Jane cannot read but takes a walk instead. Bessie comes to find her, and Jane finds a friend in her and is sorry that they have not reached an understanding such as this until Jane is about to leave.
On the morning of the nineteenth Jane is ready early for her carriage ride to Lowood. She does not wake Mrs. Reed or her children, as the night before Mrs. Reed had told her that there was no need for it. Jane is too excited to eat, and Bessie walks her to the coach stop. On the coach ride they pass through many towns, and when they stop for dinner, Jane again has no appetite. When they reach Lowood, Miss Miller and a woman who impresses Jane quite a bit welcome Jane. Jane is taken into a large room with about eighty girls ranging in age from nine or ten to twenty. She cannot eat much, and is then put to bed with Miss Miller.
When Jane is awaken the next morning by a bell, all of the girls are up and dressing and washing in the basins, although it is not yet dawn. The Bible is read, and when breakfast comes, Jane is very hungry because she had eaten so little the day before. The porridge is burned, and all of the girls can eat hardly any of it. The girls then go into the schoolroom where they are separated into classes. Jane finds out that the woman who so impressed her the day before is named Miss Temple, and that she is the superintendent of Lowood. She tells the girls that she has ordered bread and cheese for them since they could not eat their breakfast, and when the other teachers look at her with surprise, she says that she will take responsibility for it.
When talking to a girl later at break time, Jane learns that Lowood Institution is a charity school, and that all of the girls there have lost one or both parents. Mr. Brocklehurst is the treasurer and manager of the Institution, and Miss Temple has to answer to him for all of the food and clothes. Jane also learns who each of the teachers are, and after dinner, they go back to the schoolroom. Jane is surprised to see how calm her new friend is when she is made to stand in the middle of the room as punishment for something. Jane feels as if she would cry if it happened to her.
The next day the girls get up and dress, but there is no washing, as the water in the basins had frozen overnight. It is very cold in the school, and when Jane gets her porridge, while it is not burnt, it is a small portion. Jane is enrolled in the fourth class, and at first finds it hard, as she is not used to learning by heart. Later when she is sewing, she notices that her new friend is under constant observation by the teacher, and is then hit with a bunch of twigs on her neck. During the play hour Jane finds her friend, whose name she learns is Helen Burns. Jane tells her that she would not be able to take the teachers' punishments so quietly, but Helen tells her that they are only trying to correct her faults, and that they should return good for evil, as the Bible says. They talk more of the teachers, and Jane tells Helen of her sufferings at Gateshead.
The first quarter at Lowood passes, and it is so cold that the girls' feet get swollen from the walk in the cold to church. The girls do not have sufficient clothes for such weather, and they do not have enough food. One day Mr. Brocklehurst arrives, and Jane is scared that he will do as he had said and speak against her to Miss Temple and the other teachers. He asks Miss Temple why there was an expense for bread and cheese, and when she tells him that the girls had to go without breakfast, he says that they should have, and that he is trying not to accustom them to luxury but make them hardy and self-reliant.
Jane tries to remain unnoticed by Mr. Brocklehurst, but when she accidentally drops her slate to the floor, he brings her up and makes her stand on a stool in front of the class. He tells the class and the teachers that Jane is a castaway, and that they should shun her example and exclude her, as he learned from her benefactress that she is deceitful. Mr. Brocklehurst leaves the room, and Jane is to stand on the stool for half an hour. She is only able to stand it because she sees Helen and her smile.
When the half-hour ends, the other girls have gone to tea, and Jane gets off the stool and weeps. Helen brings her coffee and bread, and tells her that the others will not scorn her because of what happened, as they do not like Mr. Brocklehurst. Soon Miss Temple arrives and asks them to her room where she gives them tea, bread and seed cake. Miss Temple asks for Jane's side of the story. She tells of her life at Gateshead, and when she mentions Mr. Lloyd, Miss Temple says that she knows him and will write to him to confirm her story, for while Miss Temple believes Jane, the others may want proof. In about a week, a return letter comes from Mr. Lloyd, and Miss Temple tells the school that Jane has been cleared of the charges against her. Jane does well at the school, is soon promoted to a higher class, and in two months starts French and drawing. She no longer goes to bed imagining a hot supper, but thinks about the work of her own hands in drawing. She realizes that she would not trade the privations of Lowood for the luxuries of Gateshead.
When spring comes, the hardships because of the weather are lessened at Lowood. However, typhus has struck the school, and the schoolroom and dormitory are transformed into a hospital. Forty-five of the eighty girls are sick, and many have left or died. Those who are not sick are often left to themselves, as is Jane. Helen has consumption, not fever, and Jane thinks that this is a mild sickness and will soon pass. She soon learns differently though, and is told that Helen may soon not be with them. When she is told that she cannot go and visit her, Jane sneaks to Miss Temple's room (where Helen is staying) in the middle of the night. Helen and Jane talk, and Jane gets into bed with Helen. Helen tells her that she will be going to God and has no regrets. Jane asks her about God and Heaven, and they both fall asleep. In the morning Jane awakens to a nurse carrying her off, and later learns that Miss Temple had returned to her room to find Jane there sleeping with her arm around Helen, who had died.
While the first nine chapters cover Jane's life through age ten, the next chapter covers eight years in a page. When the public learns of how many had died from typhus at the school and how bad the food and clothes were, many wealthy individuals come forth and build a new building and make new regulations and improvements. While Mr. Brocklehurst is still the treasurer, a committee of more sympathetic men now aids him. Jane is there eight years, six and a student and two as a teacher. Miss Temple is there as superintendent the whole time, and while at first she is like a mother and governess to Jane, later they are companions.
When Miss Temple is married and leaves Lowood, Jane suddenly realizes that there is a world outside of the school that she wishes to enter. She puts an ad in the paper saying that she is available as a governess, and receives a reply from a Mrs. Fairfax in Millcote. Mr. Brocklehurst says that they must first write to Mrs. Reed to ask her permission, and a letter is returned from Mrs. Reed saying that Jane may do as she pleases.
The day before she is to go Jane gets a visit from Bessie, who wants to see her before she leaves. Bessie has married Robert, the coachman, and they have a young girl and boy. Bessie is glad to hear that Jane has done so well and has so many accomplishments, but Jane can see that Bessie still sees her as plain, and not a beauty. Bessie tells Jane that seven years before a Mr. Eyre came to Gateshead looking for her on his way to another country. She says that she thinks it was her father's brother and that he may be a wine merchant. The next morning Jane sees Bessie for a short while and then is off on the coach to her new life in Millcote.
Jane arrives at George Inn at Millcote, and when she sees John, the coachman who is to take her to Thornfield Hall, she thinks by the plainness of the carriage that Mrs. Fairfax is not so very dashing. When they arrive at Thornfield, Jane is happy to see how kind Mrs. Fairfax is. Jane is surprised to see how much attention her employer is giving her, and Mrs. Fairfax says that she is so happy that Jane has arrived, as now she will have company besides the servants. Jane asks when she will meet Miss Fairfax, and Mrs. Fairfax seems surprised and says that Jane's student's name is Miss Varens, and that she herself has no family. Mrs. Fairfax shows Jane to her room and bids her goodnight.
The next morning Jane rises and dresses plainly, wishing that she were handsomer than she is. She walks around the stately and grand house and grounds and meets Mrs. Fairfax. Mrs. Fairfax says that she wishes Mr. Rochester would reside there more. She is surprised when Jane asks who Mr. Rochester is, explaining that he is the owner of Thornfield. When Jane tells her that she thought she was the owner, Mrs. Fairfax says "What an idea," and explains that she is the housekeeper - the manager. Miss Varens is explained to be Mr. Rochester's ward, and when Adela Varens comes up, Jane sees she is about seven or eight years old. Adela has a French nurse and was born in France, so she speaks French, but Jane has no problem understanding her as she often spoke with the French teacher at Lowood. At first Adela is quiet, but soon she starts chattering on to Jane.
After breakfast, Adela and Jane go to the library to use it as a schoolroom. Later Mrs. Fairfax gives Jane a tour of the house, explaining that she keeps everything clean and ready, for although Mr. Rochester does not stay there much, his visits are sudden and unexpected. The tour of the house moves into the third story, and Jane finds it spooky, asking if there are any ghosts at Thornfield Hall or any ghost stories. Mrs. Fairfax says no, but as they leave the attic, Jane hears a curious, mirthless laugh. Mrs. Fairfax states that it must be one of the servants, and calls out Grace Poole and tells her to be quiet, explaining to Jane that Grace is there to do some housemaid's work. Adele comes running to meet them, and they have dinner in Mrs. Fairfax's room.
Jane has been at Thornfield for a little while now, and still believes that she will have a smooth career there. She feels that she is making reasonable progress with Adele although the girl has no great talents. After working with her one day, Jane takes a walk alone up to the third story. There she looks out at the view and thinks about the world, wishing she could have more interactions with it, although she does enjoy the simple life at Thornfield. When she comes up to the third story such as this, she often hears Grace Poole's laugh, but when she actually sees her, her appearance acts as a damper to the curiosity raised by her laughing.
October, November and December pass, and one day when Adele has a cold, Jane offers to walk to Hay, two miles a way, to post a letter for Mrs. Fairfax. It is a cold day, and when Jane sits down to rest, she hears a horse coming. A dog runs by her, and soon a man on a horse follows. The man passes her, and she looks when she hears a noise to see that the man and the horse have slipped on the ice. Jane offers her help, and the man her where she lives. She explains she is from Thornfield, and when he asks about her master, replies that she has never met him. She helps him onto the horse, and he continues on and she goes on to Hay. When Jane returns to Thornfield, she is surprised to see the dog in Mrs. Fairfax's room. She asks a servant where it came from, and she says that it came with Mr. Rochester, who had just arrived with a sprained ankle.
The next day Mrs. Fairfax comes to tell Jane that Mr. Rochester would like Jane and Adele to have tea with him in the evening, and tells Jane that she should change her frock. Jane changes into a silk black frock instead of the drab black one she usually wears. When Adele and Jane enter for tea, Mr. Rochester does not seem to want to talk to them and keeps silent. Eventually he does talk and tells Jane that he can see improvement in Adele. They talk of Jane's past including Lowood School and her lack of family. He also tells Jane that Adele has shown him some of Jane's drawings, and he wonders if she had done them herself. She says that she had, and goes to get her portfolio when he asks her to. He looks through all of her drawings thoughtfully and asks her questions about them. After the meeting Jane tells Mrs. Fairfax that she finds Mr. Rochester changeful and abrupt, and Mrs. Fairfax alludes to some family problems he has had, but does not elaborate much.
For the next several days Jane sees little of Mr. Rochester, but then he calls Adele and her to meet with him. He gives Adele the box of presents he had brought for her to keep her occupied. Then he calls Mrs. Fairfax in to talk to Adele so that she will not disturb him. Jane and Mr. Rochester talk, and he asks her if she thinks him handsome. When she replies 'no,' she instantly tries to say she spoke too quickly, but he says that she is no more pretty than he is handsome. They talk for quite a while, and Mr. Rochester tells Jane that he wishes he were a better man, to which she replies that if he tried hard enough he could be someone of whom he would approve. Mr. Rochester also tells Jane that he has only half a liking for Adele because of her roots, and says that he will explain more later.
One afternoon when they happen to meet while walking, Rochester does tell Jane more of Adele. He says that she is the daughter of a French opera-dancer that he was in love with and whom he supplied with a hotel and money etc. When he saw her with another man making fun of him, he took all he had given away from her. She gave birth to a child she said was his, but he does not believe that Adele is really his child. Nevertheless, when he heard that her mother had abandoned her, Rochester took Adele in. After this discussion it seems to Jane that Rochester is happier to be with her, and now always has a word or a smile for her. Jane now says that she does not find him ugly any longer.
That night Jane hardly slept thinking about Rochester and worrying that he may leave soon and be gone for a while. Just then Jane thinks she hears something brush against her door and walk down the hallway. She also hears a demonic laugh and someone walking up the third story staircase. Jane dresses hurriedly to go to talk to Mrs. Fairfax. When she enters the hall she sees a candle burning just outside her room, and she sees smoke coming from Rochester's room. When she enters his room she sees his bed on fire and tries to wake him. She throws the water from his basin onto the bed and runs to her room to get hers. Rochester wakes up with all of the water, and the fire is put out. Rochester tells Jane not to move or to call anyone, and goes to the staircase up to the third story. When he returns he asks Jane what she saw and heard, and implies that it was Grace Poole who set fire to his bed. When Jane goes to go back to bed, Mr. Rochester seems to want to have more interaction with her, and he holds her hands and tells her that he knew she would do him good in some way.
The next day Jane is anxious to talk to Mr. Rochester about the night before. She is quite surprised when she sees Grace Poole in Rochester's room with another servant mending curtains. Jane questions Grace about what happened there the night before, putting her to a test, and Grace tells her that the master left a candle burning and it caught fire to his bed. Jane cannot believe that Grace is still there, and wonders what power she has over Rochester that he did not make her leave. That night Jane is sure Rochester will call for her, but when Mrs. Fairfax calls her to tea, she learns that Rochester had left for a journey that morning and will be gone a week or more. Mrs. Fairfax tells her that when these fine, fashionable people get together, they do not like to soon part company. Mrs. Fairfax then tells Jane about Miss Ingram, a beautiful, single woman that Rochester may have a fancy for. She says that it is not likely that Rochester will think of marrying her though, as he is almost forty, and Miss Ingram is but twenty-five.
When Jane is at last alone and thinking of all that Mrs. Fairfax had told her, she thinks that she had been a fool to think that she had been a favorite of Mr. Rochester's. The next day she makes two drawings, one of herself with all her faults, and one of a beautiful woman as Mrs. Fairfax had described Miss Ingram. She decides that whenever she feels that Mr. Rochester may be taking a fancy to her, she will take out these pictures and compare them.
After ten days there is no word from Rochester, and Mrs. Fairfax says that she would not be surprised if he was gone a year. Jane tries not to be upset by this, convincing herself that she should have no bearing on the actions of her master. After a fortnight a letter from Mr. Rochester comes, saying that he will be home in three days with company. All of the rooms are cleaned and more servants are hired to make ready for the company and the servants they will bring with them. Jane notices that while everyone is doing all they can to prepare, Grace Poole stays up on the third story and only comes down to eat. Jane thinks it odd that no one else seems to notice her strange behavior. She overhears two of the servants talking about Grace, and saying that it is good that she gets paid well, because not everyone could do what she does. When they see Jane, one servant quiets the other, who asks, "Doesn't she know?" to which the first servant answers negatively.
The guests arrive Thursday evening, and Mrs. Fairfax sees that Miss Ingram is among them. The next day Jane notices that Miss Ingram and Mr. Rochester seem to prefer each other. Mrs. Fairfax tells Jane that Rochester wants her to bring Adele into the drawing room after dinner. Adele and Jane enter the room before the others, and when the women come in, only a few nod to Jane, while the others just stare.
Jane describes each of the eight women in the room. Coffee is brought in, and the gentlemen enter. Rochester does not speak to Jane, but stands by the fireplace with Miss Ingram. Jane can not stop looking at him, and she tells the reader that she did not mean to love him. When asked why he does not send Adele to school, Rochester says that it is too expensive. The others say that having a governess is also expensive, and then many go into stories about how useless and silly governesses are. Even this does not make Rochester look at Jane. Miss Ingram tries to change the subject by getting Rochester to sing. He does, and Jane hears he has a wonderful voice, and when he is done, she slips out of the room.
He follows her into the hall, and Jane is on the verge of tears. He asks her what is wrong, and says that if he had the time he would talk to her about it, but that he must get back to his guests. He also tells her that he expects her to appear in the drawing room every evening with the guests, and when they part he says "Good-night, my-" and stops, bites his lip, and re-enters the room.
One evening in the drawing room the party decides to play charades. Rochester picks his team, and of course Miss Ingram is on it. A man from the party asks Miss Ingram if they should ask Jane to play, and she returns that "she looks too stupid for any game of the sort." Rochester's team plays out a dumbshow where he and Miss Ingram are married, and the other team solves the charade as 'bridewell.' It is then the other team's turn, but Jane cannot relate what their charade was, as she spent the whole time staring at Rochester and Miss Ingram.
Jane says that she could not feel real jealousy, as Miss Ingram was "too inferior to excite the feeling." Jane goes on to say that "she was very showy, but she was not genuine; she had a fine person, many brilliant attainments, but her mind was poor, her heart barren by nature." Jane also relates that she and the other guests had noticed a spiteful antipathy that Miss Ingram had for Adele. She would push her away and order her from the room. Jane says that if Miss Ingram was a noble woman and had won Rochester's heart, she could have admired her, but she sees that Rochester is not won over by her. Jane is surprised that it seems that it is Rochester's intention to marry for interest and connections, but Jane feels herself unjustified in judging him or Miss Ingram for conforming to the ideas of their class.
One day Rochester is summoned to Millcote on business, and the party feels his absence and are not as animated. A stranger arrives saying he is an old friend of Rochester's and will stay until he returns. Jane overhears that the man's name is Mr. Mason, and that he knows Rochester from his travels in the West Indies. Jane is surprised that Rochester's travels took him to such distant shores. The footman enters the room and says that there is a gypsy in the house that will not leave until she tells the fortunes to the party. Miss Ingram wants her brought in. The gypsy is shown into the library and states that she will see no men, but only young and single ladies.
Miss Ingram goes first, but when she comes out fifteen minutes later all of the joy she went in with is gone. She sits in a corner pretending to read, but Jane notices she does not turn any pages. Other of the female guests then go in together, and all come out saying how amazing it was that the gypsy seemed to know them and their wishes so well. The footman then comes up to Jane, saying that the gypsy knows that there is yet another young single woman, and Jane says she will go.
Jane enters the room and tells the gypsy that she can tell her fortune, but that she has no faith. They talk for a while, and the gypsy tells Jane that she knows that she sits with the rest of the party every night, and asks if she studies one person more than the others. Jane says that she looks at them all. The gypsy tells Jane that it is hard to tell her fortune, as one trait contradicts another. Their talk continues, until the gypsy gets closer to the fire and Jane realizes that it is Rochester. Jane is surprised and tries to remember if she had said anything absurd. She feels that she had not, and Rochester says that she had been very careful and correct. He wants to know what the others had said about him. Jane tells him, and then mentions that Mr. Mason had arrived. Mr. Rochester's smile leaves him and he gets quite white, leaning on Jane. Rochester asks Jane what she would do if all of his friends suddenly turned on him, and she says that she would not leave, but would stay and comfort him. He tells her to go and get him a glass of wine and for her to lead Mason to him. Later, after she had been in bed awhile, she hears Rochester lead Mason to a room.
In the middle of the night Jane hears a shrill cry from the end of the hall. It is coming from the third story, and she can hear someone yelling 'Help,' and calling for Rochester. She hears someone running and the noise stopping, but soon all of the guests are awake and wondering what is going on. Rochester returns from the end of the hall and tells everyone that one of the servants had had a bad dream. All go back to bed except Jane, who dresses and waits in case she should be called. A while later there is a tap at the door and Rochester asks her to come with a sponge and some smelling salts. He takes her to Mason, whose arm is bleeding, and tells her to stay with him, wipe his blood, and use the smelling salts to keep him awake while he runs for the surgeon. He warns each of them not to talk to the other at all. It seems like a long time, and Jane is scared that someone will come out of the third story for them, but finally Rochester returns.
When the surgeon unwraps Mason's arm it is seen that there are bite marks there. Mason says that she had bit him, and Rochester says that he had told him to be careful and not to see her alone. The surgeon patches up Mason and they leave Thornfield. Jane and Rochester are then walking out to get some fresh air until the others awaken. Jane wonders to Rochester why he keeps Grace Poole there, as she thinks it is she that causes the trouble. He tells Jane not to worry about her.
Rochester asks Jane to suppose hypothetically that there is a boy who causes a capital error, the results of which had been bad, and that he takes unusual measures to rid himself of the error. When the boy meets a new friend, is he justified in overleaping this obstacle? Should the man risk the world's opinion to attach himself to this other? Jane answers that it should not be the world's opinion that he is worried about, but that he should look higher than his equals for solace. The guests start rising, and Jane and Rochester leave the garden in different directions.
Jane begins the chapter by saying that she had never been one to believe in signs or presentiments, but she remembers when she was younger that a woman in the house had had a dream with an infant in it, believed that something bad was to come, and then got word that her sister was on her deathbed. Jane says that she had had dreams for the last seven nights about infants. She is called to the drawing room and there finds Robert, the coachman from Gateshead (and Bessie's husband). He tells her that John Reed had killed himself after driving himself into debt and spending much of his mother's money. Robert continues to say that Mrs. Reed had had a stroke and was now on her deathbed and had been calling for Jane. Jane says that she will leave with him early the next morning and goes to ask Rochester's leave.
Rochester is surprised when Jane asks for leave, as she had told him that she had no family. She says that she had had none that would own her, and explains about the Reeds of Gateshead. Rochester tries to get Jane to promise that she will stay only a week, and when he gives her more money that he owes her for her wages, he then takes some back so that she will return for it and not stay away. She mentions that since it seems that he is going to be married soon, it would be a good idea for him to put Adele in a school and for her to advertise for a new position. He makes her promise that she will not advertise but will let him find her a new position. She agrees as long as she and "Adele shall be both safe out of the house before [his] bride enters it."
When Jane reaches Gateshead, Bessie is glad to see her and says that the doctor has said that Mrs. Reed may linger a week or two. Jane sees the Misses Reed, and they are not friendly to her, although they become better later. Jane goes to see Mrs. Reed, but she is somewhat delirious and tells her to come back when she has rested. She also then talks to her about Jane as if she is not Jane, saying that she had never liked her because she had never liked her mother because she was a favorite of her husband's. Ten days pass and Jane does not see Mrs. Reed again, as she is delirious.
When Jane finally does get to talk to Mrs. Reed. Mrs. Reed says that she must tell her of two wrongs that she had done her. The first was sending her away after she had promised to take care of her, and for the other she tells Jane to take out a letter from her dressing case. It is from John Eyre, Jane's uncle, and is dated three years before. It says that he had come into some money and that he wanted Jane's address so that she could live with him and he could bequeath everything to her at his death since he is not married and is childless. Mrs. Reed tells Jane that she had written back and told him that Jane had died in the fever outbreak at Lowood. Jane takes the letter and tells Mrs. Reed that she forgives her. Mrs. Reed dies that night.
Mr. Rochester had asked Jane to be gone only a week, but already she had been gone more than a month when she finally begins her return to Thornfield. She has heard from Mrs. Fairfax that the party at Thornfield had dispersed and that Mr. Rochester had gone to London for a few weeks to buy a new carriage in preparation for his upcoming marriage. Jane does not tell Mrs. Fairfax the exact date of her arrival home, as she wants to walk to Thornfield. As she nears the Hall, she sees Rochester writing in a book and he calls to her. Rochester shows Jane the carriage and walks with her to the Hall. Adele and Mrs. Fairfax are happy to see Jane, but Jane is full of grief at the upcoming separation when Rochester marries. A fortnight passes with calm, and while Jane notices that Rochester never goes to see Miss Ingram, she writes that he had never called her more frequently to him and had never been nicer to her.
One evening while Jane is walking in the park she meets Rochester. He asks Jane if she will be sorry to leave Thornfield. She says that she will, and Rochester tells her that he must give her notice. He tells her that he has found her a position with a Mrs. Dionysius O'Gall in Ireland. Jane says that she will be sorry to be so far from Thornfield and from Rochester himself. They talk more about Jane's sorrow at leaving until Rochester swears that she must stay and gathers her to him and kisses her. He then offers her his hand in marriage. Jane is not sure what to think, as she believes he is playing a game with her, but he finally convinces her he is true, and she accepts. Mrs. Fairfax is surprised to see them embrace when they return to the house.
The next day Rochester tells Jane that they will be married in four weeks and that they will travel to Paris, Rome and Naples. He then tells her to ask of him anything, and she says that she has been curious about something. Rochester gets quite serious and his demeanor changes, but he is relieved when Jane only asks why he had made her think that he meant to marry Miss Ingram. He replies that he wished to make her jealous to see how deep her love for him really ran. He tells her to ask of him more, and she says that she wishes Mrs. Fairfax to know of their marriage.
Later, when Jane sees Rochester leave Mrs. Fairfax, Jane enters to find her disbelieving. She asks if it is true, and warns Jane to be on her guard, saying that she cannot be too careful, as men like Mr. Rochester "are not accustomed to marry their governesses." Rochester calls for Jane to take her to town to buy some new gowns, and while they do buy some, Jane has to talk Rochester out of buying her so many and of buying her such fancy ones. She also has to talk him out of the jeweler's shop.
With all of the excitement, Jane had forgotten all about her uncle's letter. She decides to write to him immediately, and feels that if her uncle tells her that she will get an inheritance later, she will feel better about Rochester supporting her now. Rochester is concerned about her not taking things from him, and she explains that she does not want to be like his French opera-dancer mistress, but would rather continue on as governess for her wages. Later in the evening Jane gets Rochester to sing and play the piano for her, and she is colder to him, remembering Mrs. Fairfax's warning.
The night before the wedding Jane feels anxious that Mr. Rochester is still away on his errands, and when the time of his supposed return far passes, she runs out into the wind and rain to meet him. She comes upon him riding home, and he takes her on the horse back to the house. They eat supper, and Jane tells Rochester why she is so anxious. The night before she dreamt that she was in the wind and rain caring for a crying infant and chasing Rochester who was riding away. Jane then tells of another dream where she saw Thornfield Hall as a dreary ruin. She tells him that when she awoke from this dream she saw a candle in her room and someone at her portmanteau looking at her garments. She says that she did not recognize the person, and that it was a woman with a discolored and savage face, who put on her wedding veil and then took it off and ripped it in two. She then came over and looked closely at Jane before leaving the room.
Rochester says that he is sure she imagined it, but she says that the next morning she saw the veil ripped in two. He says that it must have been a half dream, where someone she knew entered her room, but that she dreamt the part about what kind of creature it was. He then asks her to sleep with Adele in the nursery that night and to have more pleasant dreams. Jane, however, does not sleep at all, and rises early in the morning to prepare for her wedding.
As they walk to the church the next morning, Jane sees two strangers enter it. During the ceremony, when the clergyman asks them if either have any reason why they cannot be wed, one of the strangers steps forward and says that Mr. Rochester is already married. He states that he was married to Bertha Antoinetta Mason in the West Indies. Then Mason himself comes out of the shadows and confirms that it is true and that he is Bertha's brother and that his sister is alive and at Thornfield. Rochester says that it is true, but that Bertha is mad, and he takes them all to Thornfield. They go to the third story and there they see Grace Poole and another figure that may or may not be human. It acts like a wild animal, and it attacks Rochester when it sees him. He finally gets control over her and ties her up. He tells them all that this is his wife and asks if they could they blame him for trying to have another wife in Jane, telling them to compare the two.
The men say that Jane is cleared of all blame, and that her uncle will be glad to hear of it. They tell her that her uncle was working with Mason when he received her letter that talked of her upcoming marriage. He told Mason about it, and he related Rochester's story. Jane's uncle begged Mason to travel and stop the wedding, and he himself fell so ill they are not sure whether he will survive or not. The men leave, and Jane goes to her room to think. She realizes that she must leave Thornfield and is dismayed.
Jane stays in her room a long time and is surprised that no one has come to check on her, but when she leaves the room she sees Rochester sitting in a chair outside the door. He says that he had expected some kind of scene, and asks if she can ever forgive him. Jane writes that there was so much remorse in his eyes that she forgave him instantly. However, when they are in the library together, she will not let him kiss or touch her. He asks if she will make herself a stranger to him now, and she says that she will leave Thornfield. He says that yes, she must leave, and that they will stay there that night and will leave in the morning. Jane says that she will not go with him, but that she still loves him. He tries to tell her they will go to France and she will be Mrs. Rochester, but she replies that he already has a wife and she will not be his mistress. He tries to explain his marriage to Bertha.
He says that he was the second of his father's sons, and as his father did not want to break up his property but wanted to give it all to his first son, he sought a wealthy marriage for his second. He sent him to Jamaica to meet the girl he had chosen, and Rochester married her without really knowing her. He says he then learned that his wife's mother was mad and that she had a dumb idiot brother. His own father and brother had known this but had let him marry her anyway. His wife soon showed signs of madness, and Rochester comprehended that they had nothing in common and he could not stand her. When his father and brother died, he realized that few in Europe knew of his marriage, so he could go there and lock his mad wife up and travel as if he were not married. He did so, and had a few mistresses. He says that he was taken with Jane when he first met her, and he begins to relate how he felt at each of their meetings, when Jane tells him to stop. She is undergoing quite a struggle, but she does tell Rochester that she cannot be his and leaves the room.
The next morning Jane arises before sunrise, says a silent farewell to everyone, and quietly leaves Thornfield, walking to Millcote. On the way she meets a coach that is going to a place a long way off, and she gives all of her money for a ride.
Two days have passed since Jane left Thornfield, and the money that she had could only allow the driver to take her as far as Whitcross, which is not even a town, but a crossroads. Jane had forgotten her parcel on the coach, so now realizes she is quite penniless and destitute. She spends the night outside, and the next morning, driven by hunger, walks to the nearest village. She stops at a shop to see if the woman knows of any work needed in the village. The woman does not, and neither does a woman at a small house Jane stops at. Jane continues on, her hunger getting stronger, until she sees the parsonage. She asks if the clergyman is in, but is told that he is not expected for another fortnight, as his father died and he had to leave town. She goes again to the shop, mastering her embarrassment to ask for some bread in exchange for her gloves, but the woman will not trade.
Jane walks out of town and begs some bread from a man in a farmhouse and again sleeps outside. In the morning she passes a girl about to throw porridge to a pig, but the girl gives it to Jane when she asks for it. Jane wanders farther out of the town, and it gets darker. She sees a light in the distance, but feels too weak to approach it. She finally finds the strength and approaches a small house. Inside are an older woman and two, young graceful women, and Jane watches them through the window. When she knocks, the older woman tells her to go away. Jane tells her that she will die, and when the older woman closes the door, Jane collapses on the doorstep. Just then a man approaches and opens the door and tells the woman to let Jane in. Jane tells the people that her name is Jane Elliot (she had decided to present an alias) and that she is too tired and famished to answer any questions. They give her some food and a bed for the night.
For three days and nights Jane stays in bed and they tend to her. When she is finally able to arise, she finds her clothes have all be cleaned and are waiting for her, and she goes downstairs. She there sees Hannah, the older woman, and after a talk they come to an understanding and Jane forgives her for not letting her in, and they become friends. Soon the rest of the household return from their walk to Morton. The two sisters are Diana and Mary Rivers, and the brother is Mr. St. John Rivers. Jane learns that their father has recently died, and that that is why they are all at Moor House, as the house is called. Mr. St. John is the clergyman in Morton, where Jane had gone for help.
The household tries to talk to Jane more. She tells them that she will not disclose where she had been before then, but she does tell much of her life, including her stay at Lowood School and that she had been a private governess. She also tells them that her name is an alias, but that she fears disclosure, so will not tell them her real name. She asks Mr. St. John to find her some work, no matter how humble, and he says he will try.
Jane's stay at Moor House is quite pleasant. Diana, Mary and she get along very well and have much in common. They loan her books, and she draws for them, and they converse much. Jane does not get along so well with Mr. St. John though, but she explains that he is not much at the house and that his disposition is not like the others'. A month passes since Jane's arrival, and soon the sisters are to return to their jobs as governesses. Jane asks St. John if he had found any work for her, and he says that he had. He tells her that he is opening a school for girls in Morton, and that if she were the mistress of it she would have a house and a housemaid and some money. He feels that it is beneath her station and she will not be very happy with it, but Jane accepts the position.
That evening St. John brings home a letter that he had received. He says that their uncle John had died. They explain that they had never met him, but that he had come into a fortune that they thought they might have seen a part of as their uncle never married and had no children. His will however has left all his money to another who is no more closely related than they are. The next day Jane leaves for her house in Morton, and the day after Diana and Mary return to their jobs. Soon after St. John and Hannah close up the house and return to the parsonage.
Jane describes her home in Morton as a cottage, and says that her furniture is useful yet humble. It is the evening of the first day of class, and Jane relates that she has twenty students, only three of which can read. She sees challenges ahead, and though she feels that she may not enjoy her new life, she will try. Jane goes outside to look around and is met there by St. John who brings her a present from his sisters of some drawing materials. He asks how she likes her new position, and she says that she does. He tells her that a year ago he had become miserable and had thought it a mistake that he had joined the ministry. He had then decided to become a missionary and is happy in the planning for it and believes he will travel from Europe for the East. Just then Miss Oliver, an heiress and the patron of the school, arrives. Jane sees that she is quite beautiful and that she has an affect on St. John. She asks Jane how she likes the school and her house and says that she will come and help her teach sometimes. Miss Oliver tries to get St. John to return with her to the house so he can visit her father, but he makes up excuses and the three part ways.
Jane continues her work at the school, and she soon notices that some of the girls are polite and try to do their work well, and this encourages her. She relates that she has become a favorite in the community, and that she often gets salutations and smiles. While she is happier now, she does have dreams at night of Mr. Rochester. Miss Oliver keeps her word and comes to the school, usually timing her visits with when Mr. St. John is giving his lesson to the girls. She seems to know her power over him, but it seems as if he would not let it consume him, as he wants to be a missionary.
One day when Miss Oliver is visiting Jane in her home, she finds her drawings and asks her to do one of her. The next day Mr. Oliver accompanies Miss Oliver on her visit to Jane, and Jane is invited to their home of Vale Hall. Through the conversation, Jane comes to understand that Mr. Oliver likes Mr. St. John and seemingly would not oppose a match between him and his daughter. Soon after, St. John visits Jane as she is finishing her picture of Miss Oliver. She shows it to him, asking if he would like her to make him a copy. She tells him that Miss Oliver seems to like him. He replies that he does love her, but that he feels she would not be a good wife for him, as he cannot give up the plan of being a missionary. As he looks at the picture again, he notices the piece of paper that Jane rests her hand on, tears a piece off of it and bids Jane good-bye. Jane looks at the paper but sees nothing but a few marks she has made.
The next day Jane is surprised by a visit from St. John. He is very excited, but does not immediately tell her why he has come. Eventually he begins to tell her a story. He says that there was a clergyman and a woman who married and had a daughter. They died, and the girl was sent to a Mrs. Reed and then to Lowood School. Jane is startled, but he continues that the woman then went to live with a Mr. Rochester and was to marry him until it was found out that he was already married. She then ran off and is now missing. He says that he received a letter from a solicitor looking for this woman whose name was Jane Eyre, and bringing out the scrap of paper that he had taken from Jane's paper, she sees that she had absent-mindedly written Jane Eyre on it.
He continues on to say that her uncle had died and left her all his money, a fortune of twenty thousand pounds. Jane is quite surprised at the large amount. She then asks why the solicitor should write to him, and he replies that he is her cousin, the son of her father's sister. Jane is so excited that she has family, especially family such as Diana and Mary, who she felt could have been sisters to her anyway. She instantly decides to split the money with them so that they will each have five thousand pounds and can all live together at Moor House. St. John believes that it is just the surprise and that she will really not want to split the money, but she convinces him. She tells him that she will keep the school open until he can find a replacement.
By Christmas everything is settled. Jane has left the school to a substitute, and promises to visit and teach, as she sees that some of the students do like her. Mr. St. John asks Jane what she will do now, and she replies that she is going to get the house ready for Diana and Mary's return by cleaning it thoroughly and buying some new things. He says that this will not keep her busy long and she will have to do more after, and she wonders why he is trying to stir up restlessness in her. St. John arrives first on the day all are to come home. He does not speak much to Jane or say anything pleasurable about what she has done with the house. Jane realizes that he would not make a good husband, and that it is a good thing that he and Miss Oliver did not marry. Jane relates that he does not treat her like a sister as he said he would, but that the distance between them has grown. Diana and Mary arrive home, and all are happy to see each other. They compliment Jane on what she had done to the home. A few days later when they are all studying in the library, St. John tells Jane that he wants her to stop learning German and to learn Hindustani instead. He says that it is the language he is learning for his missionary work, and that it would be a help to him to remember how it was when he started learning the language. She complies, but soon feels that she is doing only what he wants and burying a part of herself.
Jane often thinks of Mr. Rochester and even writes to the solicitor to see if he knows anything about him. When he writes back that he does not, Jane writes to Mrs. Fairfax. When she does not receive a reply, she writes again, thinking perhaps her letter was lost, but again she gets no reply. One day St. John tells Jane that she will take a walk with him. St. John asks Jane to come to India with him, and tells her that God had intended her to be a missionary's wife. Jane makes many excuses, but St. John has an answer for all of them, continuing to try to convince her. After a few thoughts, Jane tells him that she will go with him, but as his sister, not his wife. He replies that this is impossible, and that she must marry him. She continues to refuse, saying that they do not love each other, and he replies that she is not refusing him, but God. He tells her that he will be going away for a fortnight to bid farewell to friends and that she should think about it. Later in the evening, when Jane asks if he forgives her, he replies that he had not been offended.
St. John does not leave for Cambridge the next day as he said he was going to, but he stays another week. During this time Jane sees that he had not forgotten all she said to him. The night before he was to leave for Cambridge, Jane asks him to be friends with her. He says that he thought they were friends, but is not moved. When Jane asks if he will leave her to go to India like this, he is startled, and asks then if she does not mean to go with him. She tells him again that she will not marry him, and when again he asks for a reason, she says that he almost hates her and that he should kill her if they were to be married. She tries to explain what she means, but he does not understand. He continues to try to talk her into marrying him and leaving with him, but she refuses, saying that there are things in England that she must find out about. He understands that she is talking about Rochester, and says he will pray for her so that she does not become a castaway.
Diana has seen them talking and asks Jane if St. John is in love with her. Jane tells her no, but that he has asked her to marry him and be a companion to him on his voyage. Diana agrees that it would be out of the question to marry a man who regarded her only as a useful tool. After supper they say their good-byes, and St. John tells Jane that she should reflect while he is gone. He lays his hand on Jane's head, and at that moment she feels such veneration for him that she almost yields to him and forgets her refusals. But just at the moment that she would perhaps tell him so, her heart beats faster, and she gets a strange feeling. Suddenly she hears someone calling "Jane! Jane! Jane!" She recognizes the voice and yells, "I am coming.Where are you?" Of course she does not find Rochester, but bids goodbye to St. John and goes to her room.
Early in the morning Jane hears St. John leave while she is getting ready for her own journey. She tells Diana and Mary that she must go on a trip and in the afternoon goes to meet the coach. It takes thirty-six hours to get near Thornfield, and at the coach stop Jane starts to walk to the Hall. Jane is quite excited about being near Thornfield again, and walks so that her first view of the Hall will be from the front. She peeps out from the gates in case someone is looking from the windows, but then gapes at what she sees. Thornfield is no longer a stately house, but a blackened ruin. All of the walls are crashed in, and it had obviously happened a while ago.
Jane returns to the inn at the coach stop to try to find out what happened. She learns from the waiter (who also tries to tell her a story about Mr. Rochester and his governess) that there was a lunatic living at the Hall who was Rochester's wife, and she burned it down. He relates that Rochester tried to get her out, but that she jumped from the top of the house, killing herself. Rochester was injured in the fire, and has lost his left hand and is blind. He tells her that Mrs. Fairfax was sent away (and well cared for monetarily) and that Adele was sent to school. He tells her that he now lives at Ferndean, a manor house that he owns about thirty miles from there. He lives there with John (his coachman) and his wife. Jane calls for a coach, and sets out for Ferndean.
Jane travels the last mile to Ferndean on foot so that the coach does not draw attention. It is about to get dark, and she sees Mr. Rochester come out of the house and try to feel his way around. She sees that his figure and appearance are the same, but that he walks slowly and hides his left hand. John comes out, and after the two of them go in, Jane knocks at the door. John's wife, Mary, answers, and she recognizes Jane. Rochester rings for some water, and Jane takes it in instead of Mary. When Jane speaks Rochester realizes it is not Mary, but does not believe it is Jane. Jane says that it is she, and that she will never leave him again. She kisses him and tells him that she is now rich, and that if she does not let him live with him, she will build a house near. Rochester gets gloomy when Jane again says she will stay with him, as he feels himself to be unworthy of her companionship now that he is blind. Jane makes a better fire and some supper, and soon things are more cheerful. Jane tells Rochester some of where she has been, but he becomes jealous when she says she has been with good people, and he asks if any men were there. She laughs at him and bids him goodnight.
The next day Jane comes down to breakfast, and Rochester is relieved that she has not left in the night. They go for a walk, and he tells her how horrible he felt when he realized that she had left Thornfield and had taken no money or goods. Jane tells him how she had been received at Moor House and about St. John. He asks many questions about him, finally telling Jane that she can go and be with him. She convinces him that her heart is with him, not St. John, and that she will take care of him. Rochester asks Jane to marry him, and she accepts. He then relates a story from a few nights before. He says that he was feeling very sad and longing for her and called out "Jane! Jane! Jane!," and that he heard someone answer, "I am coming.Where are you?" Jane decides that Rochester has been through enough, and so does not tell him of the fantastic coincidence.
Jane and Rochester have a quiet wedding three days after that. Diana and Mary are happy for her and say they will come to visit. St. John did not reply to the letter Jane sent to him regarding the wedding; however, he has since maintained a correspondence with her. Jane goes to see Adele and changes her school for a better and closer one. Jane then tells the reader that it has been ten years now that she has been married as she sits to write about her life. She and Rochester are always together, and after two years, he had regained sight in one of his eyes, enough to see his first-born son. Diana and Mary are both married and come to visit Jane, and she visits them. St. John went to India and is still there. He remained unmarried, and Jane relates that he feels that he will soon die and join God.
1) "I resisted all the way: a new thing for me." (Chapter 2). Jane says this as Bessie
is taking her to be locked in the red-room after she had fought back when John Reed struck her. For the first time Jane is asserting her rights, and this action leads to her eventually being sent to Lowood School.
2) "That night, on going to bed, I forgot to prepare in imagination the Barmecide supper, of hot roast potatoes, or white bread and new milk, with which I was wont to amuse my inward cravings. I feasted instead on the spectacle of ideal drawings, which I saw in the dark - all the work of my own hands." (Chapter 8). Jane writes of this after she has become comfortable and has excelled at Lowood. She is no longer dwelling on the lack of food or other material things, but is more concerned with her expanding mind and what she can do.
3) "While I paced softly on, the last sound I expected to hear in so still a region, a laugh, struck my ears. It was a curious laugh - distinct, formal, mirthless. I stopped" (Chapter 11). Jane hears this laugh on her first full day at Thornfield Hall. It is her first indication that something is going on there that she does not know about.
4) "Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags" (Chapter 12). Jane thinks this as she looks out of the third story at the view from Thornfield, wishing she could see and interact with more of the world.
5) "The ease of his manner freed me from painful restraint; the friendly frankness, as correct as cordial, with which he treated me, drew me to him" (Chapter 15). Jane says this after Rochester has become friendlier with her after he has told her the story of Adele's mother. She is soon in love with him and goes on to say, "And was Mr. Rochester now ugly in my eyes? No, reader: gratitude and many associates, all pleasurable and genial, made his face the object I best liked to see; his presence in a room was more cheering than the brightest fire" (Chapter 15).
6) "I knew," he continued, "you would do me good in some way, at some time: I saw it in your eyes when I first beheld you; their expression and smile did not.strike delight to my inmost heart so for nothing" (Chapter 15) After the fire Rochester tries to get Jane to stay with him longer and he says this to her. This is one of the reasons that Jane feels he fancies her.
7) "I had not intended to love him; the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously revived, great and strong! He made me love him without looking at me" (Chapter 17). Jane says this when she sees Rochester again after his absence. She had tried to talk herself out of loving him, but it was impossible. This is also an example of one of the times that Jane addresses the reader.
8) In the deep shade, at the farther end of the room, a figure ran backwards and forwards. What it was, whether beast or human being, one could not, at first sight tell: it groveled, seemingly on all fours: it snatched and growled like some strange wild animal: but it was covered with clothing and a quantity of dark, grizzled hair wild as a mane, hid its head and face" (Chapter 26). This is what Rochester, Mason, and Jane see when they return from the stopped wedding and go up to the third story. This is the first time Jane really sees Rochester's wife.
9) "Gentle reader, may you never feel what I then felt? May your eyes never shed such stormy, scalding, heart-wrung tears as poured from mine. May you never appeal to Heaven in prayers so hopeless and so agonized as in that hour left my lips; for never may you, like me, dread to be the instrument of evil to what you wholly love" (Chapter 27). Jane says this as she is quietly leaving Thornfield in the early morning. She knows that she is bringing grief upon herself and Rochester, but she knows she must leave.
10) "Reader, I married him." This quote, the first sentence in the last chapter, shows another example of Jane addressing the reader, and ties up the end of the story. Jane is matter-of-fact in telling how things turned out.
Jane: Jane is an orphan who is at first raised by her aunt, Mrs. Reed and is then sent to Lowood School. Jane is considered plain, and learns to enjoy learning and living a simple life. When she goes to Thornfield Hall and is engaged to Mr. Rochester, she does not want to give up her industrious, simple life for one filled with gowns and jewels. When Rochester suggests that they go off together even though they cannot be married, Jane turns to God and finds the strength to leave him. She becomes the mistress of a school in Morton, and friend to the Rivers family. When she receives an inheritance from her uncle, Jane shares it with the Rivers, who she discovers are her family. She then finds Mr. Rochester and the two are married at last.
Mr. Rochester: Mr. Rochester is the master of Thornfield Hall. At first Jane finds him withdrawn, but she soon comes to love him and they are to be married. Jane leaves him when she learns that he already has a wife whom he has hidden because she is mad. He is at times serious and stern, but he claims sympathy, as he seems to have remorse for some aspects of his life. In the end he and Jane are married, and he recovers some of the sight he lost in the fire at Thornfield Hall.
Mrs. Fairfax: Mrs. Fairfax is the kindly housekeeper at Thornfield Hall. She hires Jane and is quite welcoming to her. She warns her about getting too close to Mr. Rochester.
Adele Varens: Adele is the ward of Mr. Rochester, and the girl that Jane is hired to be governess to.
Grace Poole: Mrs. Fairfax attributes all of the laughs Jane hears to Grace, and Jane at first thinks that Grace is responsible for trying to kill Mr. Rochester and then Mr. Mason. Jane cannot understand why she is let to stay, but then realizes that Grace is just the caretaker for the real perpetrator.
Bertha Antoinette Mason: Bertha is Rochester's wife. She comes from a family with a history of madness and is locked up as she attacks those who come near her. She is described in animal-like terms, and in the end she sets fire to Thornfield and kills herself.
Mr. Mason: Mr. Mason is Bertha Mason's brother. He comes to stop the wedding of Rochester and Jane.
Miss Ingram: Miss Ingram is the beautiful woman whom Rochester makes Jane think he is to marry. She is no longer interested in Rochester when he sends out a rumor that his fortune is not as large as it seems.
Mrs. Reed: Mrs. Reed is aunt to Jane and mistress of Gateshead Hall. She had promised to take care of Jane, but cares more for her own children and sends her to Lowood School. She also tries to sabotage Jane's future by telling her Uncle that she is dead. Jane forgives her right before she dies.
Georgiana, Mary and John Reed: These are the children of Mrs. Reed. They do not treat Jane well when she resides at Gateshead Hall. Georgiana is beautiful and turns out to be rather absurd and concerned with herself. Mary is more industrious and concerned about her finances. John teases and beats Jane constantly and ends up an in-debt drunkard, finally killing himself.
Miss Temple: Miss Temple is the superintendent of Lowood School. She is sympathetic to the girls there and tries to help them. She is admired by Jane and becomes her friend when she becomes a teacher there herself. When Miss Temple gets married and leaves Lowood, Jane decides to leave as well, prompting her move to Thornfield.
Mr. Brocklehurst: Mr. Brocklehurst is the manager of Lowood School. He visits Gateshead to meet Jane, and then tells the teachers and students of Lowood that Jane is deceitful. He does not provide enough for the girls at the school, and after the fever killed so many girls, a committee is set up to help him.
Helen Burns: Helen is Jane's first friend at Lowood. She does not complain about her position, but tries to be good, telling Jane that she should too. She eventually dies of consumption.
Bessie and Robert: Bessie is the nurse at Gateshead whom Jane becomes friends with, and Robert is the coachman. Jane learns they have been married.
John and Mary: John and Mary are the married couple that work at Thornfield and then take care of Mr. Rochester at Ferndean.
The Moon: In Jane Eyre the moon is a metaphor for change. The moon is either described or looked at many times throughout the novel when Jane's life will take on a new direction. Just a few examples are when Jane leaves Gateshead, when she first meets Rochester and right before Rochester proposes to her.
Food: Food is used throughout the novel to represent want. One example of this is when Jane is at Lowood School. Here the food is scant, and older girls often take it from Jane in the beginning. Examples such as the burnt porridge are given. However, the hunger Jane feels is not just a physical desire for food, but for personal growth as well. When she is accepted at the school and begins to accomplish things for herself in drawing class, she is no longer focuses on her hunger, as it has been fulfilled by her own achievements. She says,
"That night, on going to bed, I forgot to prepare in imagination the Barmecide supper, of hot roast potatoes, or white bread and new milk, with which I was wont to amuse my inward cravings. I feasted instead on the spectacle of ideal drawings, which I saw in the dark - all the work of my own hands." (Chapter 8).
A similar case can be seen in Jane's hunger before she is welcomed to Moor House. She has not eaten much, has had to beg for food, and is physically weak from hunger. She is not only hungry for food however, and when she arrives at the house and is welcomed there, Jane is more satisfied with the friendship she finds than the food she is offered. She had been hungry for companionship, and she finds it with Diana and Mary.
Fire and Burning: Fire is used throughout the novel to represent passion as an uncontrollable force. When it first becomes truly obvious that Rochester has feelings for Jane, she has just saved him from the fire in his bed. When Rochester tries to keep Jane with him after this incident, she says, "strange energy was in his voice, strange fire in his look" (Chapter 15). Another example is when Rochester suggests that he and Jane remain together even though they cannot be married. Jane writes, "a hand of fiery iron grasped my vitals. Terrible moment: full of struggle, blackness, burning! Not a human being that ever lived could wish to be loved better than I was loved" (Chapter 27). Jane is tempted to succumb to her and Rochester's passions, but she does not.
The Chestnut Tree: This tree that had been struck by lightning during a storm is a symbol for the relationship between Jane and Rochester. When Jane is running in the rain toward Rochester, she sees the tree and writes that it had not been split in half, but that while there was a hole in it and it was separated much, the roots held it together. Jane says, "You did right to hold fast to each other." At the end of the novel when Rochester compares himself to this ruined tree, Jane says that he is not ruined, but that plants will grow around him and take delight in him.
In the beginning of Jane Eyre, Jane struggles against Bessie, the nurse at Gateshead Hall, and says, "I resisted all the way: a new thing for me."(Chapter 2). This sentence foreshadows what will be an important theme of the rest of the book, that of female independence or rebelliousness. Jane is here resisting her unfair punishment, but throughout the novel she expresses her opinions on the state of women. Tied to this theme is another of class and the resistance of the terms of one's class. Spiritual and supernatural themes can also be traced throughout the novel.
Soon after Jane is settled at Lowood Institution she finds the enjoyment of expanding her own mind and talents. She forgets the hardships of living at the school and focuses on the work of her own hands. She is not willing to give this up when she is engaged to Rochester. She resists becoming dependent on him and his money. She does not want to be like his mistresses, with their fancy gowns and jewels, but even after she and Rochester are married, she wants to remain as Adele's governess. She is not willing to give up her independence to Rochester, and tries to seek her own fortune by writing to her uncle. In the end, when she does have her own money, she states, "I am my own mistress" (Chapter 37).
Jane not only shows the reader her beliefs on female independence through her actions, but also through her thoughts. Jane desires to see more of the world and have more interaction with its people. While she appreciates her simple life at Thornfield, she regrets that she does not have the means to travel. She relates her feelings to all women, not just those of her class, saying:
Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags (Chapter 12).
It is also important here to talk about Bertha, for she is a female character who is often seen resisting. It may be wondered why Jane seems to have little sympathy for her, and part of the reason for this may be seen with how Bertha is portrayed. While Bertha is a woman, she is not presented as such. She is described in animal-like terms, and is called 'it', not even 'she' in the beginning. Jane describes her meeting with Bertha as such:
In the deep shade, at the farther end of the room, a figure ran backwards and forwards. What it was, whether beast or human being, one could not, at first sight, tell: it grovelled, seemingly, on all fours; it snatched and growled like some strange wild animal: but it was covered with clothing; and a quantity of dark, grizzled hair, wild as a mane, hid its head and face (Chapter 26).
Jane is disadvantaged in many ways as she has no wealth, family, social position or beauty. Jane does have intelligence though, and her disposition is such to make Rochester fall in love with her. Here is seen resistance against class, as Rochester wishes to marry Jane in spite of the disapproval that will come from his class, and Jane also resists this disapproval and will marry him. However, Jane will not rebel against God or lose her self-respect and become Rochester's mistress when she finds out that he is already married.
There is also a spiritual theme running through the novel. When Jane is at Lowood she meets Helen Burns, the good and sacrificing girl whom Jane questions about God and Heaven right before she dies. This seems to begin Jane's relationship with religion that is traced more through the book. Jane calls on God after she finds out about Rochester's wife. She locks herself in her room, and states, "One idea only still throbbed lifelike within me - a remembrance of God: it begot an unuttered prayer.'be not far from me for trouble is near: there is none to help'" (Chapter 26). Again when she is trying to resist succumbing to Rochester's passion and a dishonest marriage with him we see her turning to God. After Rochester's attempts, Jane tells him to "do as I do: trust in God and yourself. Believe in Heaven. Hope to meet again there" (Chapter 27).
The religion theme is perhaps most important in Jane's relationship with St. John. When Jane refuses his attempts to get her to marry him and go to India, he says that she is not refusing him, but God. When Jane does almost accept him it is because she suddenly feels much veneration for him and her reasons for not accepting him dissolve. She says, "Religion called - Angels beckoned - God commanded - life rolled together like a scroll - death's gates opening showed eternity beyond: it seemed, that for safety and bliss there, all here might be sacrificed in a second" (Chapter 35).
Here one of the supernatural aspects of the novel steps in, and Jane hears Rochester calling her from afar. Later it is related that Rochester could also hear her reply. This is only one example of the supernatural in the novel. Near the beginning of the novel Jane feels she sees a ghost while she is locked in the red-room, and she takes it as a message from another world. When Jane is walking to Hay and first hears Rochester's horse approaching, she expects to see a North-of-England spirit called a 'Gytrash' a lion-like creature with a huge head. When she sees Rochester the spell is broken, as she knows that nothing ever rides the Gytrash. When Jane first sees Bertha in her room by candlelight, she describes her in supernatural-like terms, thinking perhaps that she is a ghost.
Jane also relates a dream of a woman she knew in the past and how it was a presentiment of her sister's illness. Jane dreams of infants, as this woman did, and these dreams are followed by the attack on Mason and Robert's visit telling Jane that John Reed had died and that Mrs. Reed was on her deathbed. She again has dreams of infants before her failed wedding, and she has a dream of Thornfield as a ruin, which she later sees has become reality.
Charlotte Bront� was born 21 April 1816 in Haworth Parsonage on the Yorkshire moor, the third of Patrick and Maria Branwell Bront�'s six children. In 1821, Maria Branwell died, leaving her five daughters and one son motherless. Charlotte and Maria and Elizabeth, her two older sisters, were sent to Cowan Bridge Clergy Daughter's School, where the bad conditions caused Maria and Elizabeth to be sent home with the consumption that killed them in 1825. Charlotte and Emily went to school in Brussels in 1842 for less than two years. Charlotte began writing mythology with Emily and Anne when they were children, and in 1846 the three sisters published a book of Poems under the pseudonyms Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. The good reviews encouraged them to continue their writing, and soon plays, serial stories and other writings emerged.
Charlotte's novel The Professor did not do well, but Jane Eyre , published in 1847 under the pseudonym Currer Bell, was a success.
Tragedy followed the next two years however, when Charlotte's brother Branwell died in 1848 (possibly connected with his heavy drinking) and Emily died later in the year of consumption. Anne's death followed in 1849, also of consumption. Charlotte's novel Shirley (1849) presents some of her grief from this time. After the deaths, Charlotte spent some time in London with friends, particularly the writer Thackeray. In 1854 Charlotte married Arthur Bell Nicholls, her father's curate, and in March of 1855 she died. Other surviving works of Charlotte Bront� include some earlier writings as well as another novel, Villette (1853).
Barker, Juliet. The Bront�s . New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994.