Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte

BACKGROUND

This book was first published under the name Currer Bell. A lot of critics at that time, (19th century), thought that this Currer Bell character was a man, and they gave the book a lot of praise. When they eventually learned that the writer was Charlotte Bronte, a woman, they took back all the nice stuff they said. They claimed that it was unladylike to write about a female character in such a way. They were talking about the character Jane, and the way that she is so independent and strong-willed.

MAIN CHARACTERS

Jane Eyre: Obviously the main character since the book is named after her. She is an orphan who struggles to find her place in the world, and a family that she can be a part of. The book follows her life.

Mrs. Reed: Janeís wicked aunt. She has to take care of Jane because she promised her husband she would before he died. (Her husband was Janeís motherís brother). She is a snob and hates Jane.

John Reed: Janeís cousin. He is really nasty to her and always gets her in trouble and beats her up.

Eliza and Georgiana Reed: Janeís cousins, Johnís sisters.

Bessie: The housekeeper at the Reedís. She sympathizes with Jane, although she doesnít really act like it much.

Mr. Brocklehurst: He runs the orphan-boarding school that Jane goes to, called Lowood Institution. He is a minister. He is very stingy and mean to the students at his school.

Miss. Temple: She is the superintendent and teacher at Lowood. She has compassion for Jane and tries to help her out. She teaches Jane how to control her temper and become more patient.

Helen Burns: Janeís friend at Lowood. She is very patient although she is always in trouble and getting yelled at. She dies from consumption, and is very calm about dying. She is really religious and knows that her real home is waiting for her in heaven.

Mrs. Fairfax: She is the housekeeper at Thornfield and a distant relative of Mr. Rochester.

Edward Rochester: Master at Thornfield Hall. He is sort of mysterious and odd. Jane and he have this bizarre kind of attraction to one another.

Adele Varens: The orphaned child of one of Rochesterís old mistresses. Rochester is most likely her father. Rochester hired Jane to be a governess to her.

Grace Poole: She is employed at Thornfield Hall, but no one is really sure what she does, we later figure out she takes care of Bertha Mason. She lives and works in the attic. She is an alcoholic.

Blanche Ingram: Tall, beautiful lady whom Rochester says he is going to marry. She is a snot and is really rude to Jane.

Richard Mason: Rochesterís friend from Jamaica. He is Berthaís brother.

Bertha Mason: Rochesterís crazy wife that he keeps locked in the attic.

John Eyre: Janeís long lost uncle.

St. John Rivers: He is one of Janeís long lost cousins that she never knew about. He is a minister and plans to go to India as a missionary. He is kind of creepy and not very nice.

Diana and Mary Rivers: St.Johnís sisters, and therefore Janeís cousins. They are quiet, well behaved women.

PLOT

Jane Eyre is this little girl about six years old when the book starts. She is living with the Reedís at Gateshead Hall and she hates it there. The Reedís are really mean to her and she thinks they suck. The feeling is mutual and so Mrs. Reed sends Jane to this low budget orphan school called Lowood Institution.

Mr. Brocklehurst runs Lowood and he does not waste one penny on anything for the girls that live there. They are basically starving because they arenít allowed to eat much food, and it is freezing all the time because he wonít shell out for heat. Jane learns to adjust there and makes friends with Helen and Miss. Temple. Then, Helen dies and Miss. Temple leaves to get married. Jane realizes she doesnít like it there alone so she tries to get a job somewhere as a governess. Edward Rochester hires her to teach his bastard daughter Adele. Jane goes to Thornfield and pretty much her whole life changes. A lot of this novelís action takes place in Janeís head and with her emotions. For her to go out on her own to an unknown place was a big deal. At Thornfield Jane is treated like a real person by Rochester. They have a weird relationship, but they are always really honest with each other. Rochester tells her about his life and compliments Jane on stuff she cares about, like her paintings. He kind of is setting her up because he knows that he wants to marry her, but Jane doesnít know and we donít know that yet either. He messes with her a little by bringing this chick Blanche out to the house and saying he is going to marry her. This throws Jane for awhile. Jane does not like to mess around and play games.

So, Rochester and Jane admit they love each other and they plan to get married. They are at the little church ready to go, and Rochesterís "friend" Mason busts in and breaks up the wedding. Rochester cannot marry Jane because he already has a wife! He keeps his wife locked up in his attic! (This is a big surprise in the book). Jane is pissed and upset so she runs away.

She has no where to go, and not very much money. She travels as far as she can and gets pretty worn out from not eating or resting. She ends up at this little house, and she stops there to see if they would put her up for the night. It is the Riversí house and Diana and Mary are really nice to her. St. John is kind of shady but he gets her a job teaching at the local schoolhouse. Her uncle John Eyre dies and leaves all his estate to her. Through this she finds out that the Riversí are her cousins. (Janeís fatherís brother was John Eyre, the uncle. John Eyre was also the brother to the Riversí mother.) He didnít leave any money to them because of an argument he had with their father years ago. Jane shares the money with the Riversí. St. John wants to marry her and take her with him to India to be missionaries. She really doesnít want to because she still loves Rochester and does not want to be a missionary. She tells St. John Ďnoí.

One night Jane has this inspiration that she hears Rochester calling her. She is so moved that she takes off to find him. She goes to Thornfield Hall and it is in ruins. She finds out that there was a fire and that Bertha Mason is dead. Rochester was wounded and blinded trying to save her but he could not. He lives all alone in this other house near by. Jane goes to see him and their love is sparked and they live happily ever after.

CHAPTER BY CHAPTER

CHAPTER 1

  • We meet Jane and the Reeds. The Reeds exclude her from stuff because she is not "sociable" or "natural".
  • Jane doesnít care and entertains herself by hiding in the other room with a book. she escapes in the world the book creates for her.
  • John Reed busts in and starts harassing Jane. He throws the book at her and beats her up. She fights back and gets blamed for the whole thing.

CHAPTER 2

  • Jane is all fired up from her fight with John. No one can really control her so they lock her up in the red room.
  • The red room is Mr. Reedís old room and the room he died in so it is kind of freaky.
  • Jane thinks she sees his ghost and wigs out. She gets herself so worked up that she becomes unconscious.

CHAPTER 3

  • She wakes up in the nursery and a doctor has come to see her.
  • The servants are being pretty nice to her because she has scared everybody with her tantrum.
  • Bessie sings her this song about a poor orphan childís journey. (Jane thinks of this song often later in her life).
  • Jane learns about her parents from listening to the servants talk.
  • Her father was a poor clergyman, and her mother had married him against her familyís wishes.
  • Her father cut them off. They both died within a year of typhus.

CHAPTER 4

  • Mrs. Reed tells her children to stay away from Jane.
  • The Holidays pass and Jane is not invited to participate in any of the parties or festivities.
  • Mr. Brocklehurst comes to Gateshead because Mrs. Reed wants to send Jane to his school.
  • Mrs. Reed tells Mr. Brockelhurst bad things about Jane, like that she is a liar, etc.
  • Jane goes off on Mrs. Reed and basically tells her that she hates her and how much she sucks.
  • Bessie is nice to Jane and makes her feel better.

CHAPTER 5

  • Jane leaves for Lowood Institution.
  • The first person Jane sees is Miss. Temple, and jane instantly likes and admires her.
  • Jane describes her first day at Lowood and how things work there.
  • Jane notices Helen Burns and they talk a little bit. Jane notices later on that day that Helen gets in trouble with a teacher.

CHAPTER 6

  • Jane talks to Helen again and asks her how she can stand to be yelled at so much.
  • Helen says it is because she has faults and the teachers are only pointing them out to her. (Helen is really mature and patient).
  • Helen does not carry grudges and Jane canít understand that because she hates the Reeds so much.

CHAPTER 7

  • Mr. Brocklehurst visits Lowood and gets in an argument with Miss. Temple about the money spent on stuff for the girls, like food and clothes.
  • He is a big cheapskate and Miss. Temple calls him on that.
  • Jane drops her slate (little chalkboard) while Brocklehurst is talking.
  • He makes her stand up in front of everyone and he tells them that she is a servant of the devil and a liar.
  • He completely embarrasses her.

CHAPTER 8

  • Jane is all bent out of shape that no one will like her because of what Brocklehurst said.
  • Helen makes Jane feel better by telling her all this spiritual stuff.
  • Miss. Temple invites Jane and Helen into her room.
  • She lets Jane tell her story about the Reeds and why they accuse her of being a liar. She is really nice to the girls.

CHAPTER 9

  • Typhus hits Lowood and many of the girls get really sick because they are starved and unhealthy.
  • Helen is really sick but not with typhus, with consumption.
  • Jane sneaks into the room where Helen is staying. She curls up in her bed with her and the two talk and bond.
  • Helen dies while they sleep.

CHAPTER 10

  • Eight years pass and Jane decides to advertise to be a governess.
  • She is offered a job from Mrs.fairfax and accepts.
  • Jane sees Bessie while waiting for her coach to go to Thornfield and they catch up on old times.

CHAPTER 11

  • Jane arrives at Thornfield and settles in. She is introduced to Mrs.Fairfax and the other servants, and begins teaching Adele.
  • Jane hears a lot of loud noises and strange laughter coming from the third floor.
  • Mrs.Fairfax yells up to Grace to be quiet. (This is the beginning of the mystery as to what is upstairs).

CHAPTER 12

  • Months pass and Jane is accustomed to her life at Thornfield, although she is a little bored.
  • One night she goes for a walk and sees a man riding his horse.
  • The man and the horse fall and Jane is left to help them.
  • The man asks her stuff about who she is and where she lives.
  • Jane goes back to Thornfield and there is all sorts of stuff going on. Jane recognizes the dog that was with the fallen man in the house.
  • Mrs.Fairfax tells Jane that the master is back and has just injured himself on his horse.
  • So the man was Rochester, and that was Janeís first meeting with him.

CHAPTER 13

  • The next day Rochester calls Jane and Adele to have tea with him.
  • Rochester asks Jane a million questions about herself and her life.
  • Jane asks Mrs.Fairfax why Rochester is so strange, and she tells Jane that Rochester has family problems.
  • We learn that his older brother has died and he has only been master of Thornfield for nine years.

CHAPTER 14

  • Mr. Rochester calls jane and Adele to see him again a few days later.
  • He is intent on talking to Jane and getting her to talk to him.
  • When he talks to her though, he talks of strange things and of times past and he often loses Janeís understanding.

CHAPTER 15

  • Rochester tells Jane about Celine, Adeleís mother and his old mistress.
  • Jane is attracted by his truthfulness and trust he seems to have in her. She also says that his face was the best that she liked to see.
  • Jane hears someone moving around and laughing outside her door. She calls out and hears the person run away and up to the third floor. She thinks it is Grace Poole.
  • She opens her bedroom door and sees smoke pouring out of Rochesterís room. She runs in and sees that his bed is on fire.
  • Jane tries to wake Rochester but he is sound asleep. She dumps a bucket of water on his bed and puts the fire out.
  • Rochester wakes up and does not know what is going on. Jane tells him everything that she knows.
  • He goes to the third floor and comes back saying that everything is taken care of and she should not tell anyone what happened. He kind of lets her think that it was Grace Poole.
  • Jane leaves to go back to bed and Rochester asks her to stay up with him a little longer.

CHAPTER 16

  • In the morning, Jane sees Grace Poole in Rochesterís room sewing new curtains. Jane is convinced that Grace set the fire.
  • Mrs.Fairfax tells Jane that Rochester has left and will probably be gone for weeks. He is at a friendís estate with other friends.
  • Jane asks if there are any ladies there and learns about Blanche Ingram.
  • Jane draws two portraits, one of herself and one of what she thinks Blanche would look like.
  • She promises herself that whenever she thinks Rochester might like her, she must compare the two portraits and see that she is not Rochesterís type, someone like Blanche is.

CHAPTER 17

  • Jane is missing Rochester and tries to remind herself that she is just the governess in his house.
  • Mrs.Fairfax gets a letter that says Rochester will be back in three days and he is bringing all his friends with him.
  • All the servants freak out and spend all their time getting the house ready.
  • Rochester and his friends arrive in time for dinner on the third day.
  • Adele and Jane are invited to join the group after dinner.
  • Jane canít stop looking at Rochester. (Itís kind of weird that Jane thinks Rochester is so attractive because he is not described that way).
  • The guests are pretty rude to Jane and go on and on about how governesses suck.
  • Jane is uncomfortable and slips out. Rochester follows her and asks her what she has been up to, etc.
  • He sees that she is upset, and he probably knows why. (Jane likes Rochester and she was just put down by his friends, and she canít really talk to Rochester about it).

CHAPTER 18

  • Rochester and the guests do all this fun stuff like going outside and playing charades (hey, this is the 19th century).
  • Rochester and Blanche are always hanging around each other and everyone knows that they are going to be married.
  • Rochester has to go away for business.
  • While he is gone this guy Mason shows up to pay him a visit. They invite him in and he hangs out with his other friends, basically waiting until he gets back.
  • A gypsy woman has wandered to Thornfield and will not leave until she tells all the young ladies their fortunes.
  • After a big argument, the ladies go to the gypsy. Blanche is kind of pissed after she comes back. The other ladies are all giggly and canít believe how much the gypsy knew about their lives.
  • The gypsy refuses to leave because there is still one more young lady in the house. So, Jane must go have her fortune read.

CHAPTER 19

  • The gypsy asks Jane all these personal questions about her dreams and her feelings.
  • Then, the gypsy asks Jane about Rochester and Blanche.
  • Jane realizes that the gypsy is Rochester! He admits it and he and Jane hang out for awhile.
  • Jane tells him that that guy Mason showed up and Rochester freaks out a little.
  • Rochester is acting shady and tells Jane to whisper to Mason to come see him.

CHAPTER 20

  • Jane is awakened by screams for help and loud noises coming from the third floor.
  • All the guests are awake too, and they are all freaking out about what is going on.
  • Rochester says that a servant was having a nightmare, but Jane knows better
  • Rochester comes for Jane after everyone goes back to bed.
  • Mason has a serious wound on his arm and Jane has to keep sponging the blood away while Rochester goes to get the doctor.
  • Jane is afraid that Grace Poole is going to attack her, because she thinks that Grace must have done this to Mason.
  • Once Mason is okay, they sneak him out of the house so that the other guests wonít be suspicious in the morning.
  • Rochester and Jane hang out and talk. He asks her some questions that have to do with mistakes he made in his past.
  • He wants to be sure she would not hate him for mistakes he made a long time ago.
  • He asks Jane if she will stay up all night with him the night before he marries Blanche, and talk about Blanche. (He is testing her, her loyalty and faithfulness).

CHAPTER 21

  • Jane gets notice that Mrs. Reed is really sick and keeps calling for Jane.
  • Jane leaves Thornfield to go see Mrs. Reed.
  • At Gateshead she hangs out with Bessie. Eliza is planning on being a nun, so she is really boring. Georgiana is all into herself and being popular so she is pretty boring too.
  • John Reed is dead, he commited suicide because he was an alcoholic and a gambler that lost all the familyís money.
  • Mrs.Reed isnít really happy to see Jane. She tells Jane that she got a letter from her uncle John Eyre a couple years ago.
  • She never sent it on to Jane because she didnít really like Jane. She thought Jane should have the letter.
  • Mrs. Reed dies.

CHAPTER 22

  • After one month, Jane goes back to Thornfield.
  • She walks the last part of the way through some fields around the house. Rochester is sitting in these fields writing. Jane tries to avoid him but he sees her.
  • They talk and Jane is happy to see him, but sad because she knows that he is going to be married soon.
  • Rochester shows her the new carriage he bought for his bride.
  • Jane thinks it is weird that Rochester and Blanche have not been spending very much time together.

CHAPTER 23

  • Jane is walking around in the garden when she smells Rochesterís cigar. She tries to sneak her way out without his noticing her, but he does.
  • They talk about his marriage and what Jane will do when that happens.
  • Rochester offers to send her to this family in Ireland that needs a governess, and tells her he will probably never see her again.
  • Jane is upset and tells Rochester she is really sad to leave Thornfield.
  • Rochester admits he is not marrying Blanche and asks Jane to be his wife, she accepts.

CHAPTER 24

  • Rochester and Jane get ready to be married.
  • He tries to give her all these gifts but she doesnít want them.
  • Jane really loves Rochester, and he really loves her.

CHAPTER 25

  • Jane has all these messed up dreams where everything gets ruined and she is alone.
  • She has this other "dream" of some woman in her room trying on her wedding veil.
  • The woman was scary and someone she had never seen before.
  • When Jane wakes up she sees her veil on the floor torn in half. (This was not a dream. Bertha Mason did that).

CHAPTER 26

  • Jane and Rochester go to the church to be married.
  • The ceremony is interrupted with the information that Rochester is already married and that this wife is still living.
  • That guy Mason comes out of no where and testifies to this. He says Rochesterís wife lives at Thornfield and is Grace Pooleís patient.
  • (This is such a HUGE shock to everyone, especially Jane).
  • Rochester gets all defensive and asks everyone to come and see the woman he was "forced" to marry and see for themselves what kind of person she is.
  • They all go to see Bertha. She attacks Rochester like a savage.
  • The lawyer who busted up the wedding approaches Jane about her uncle John Eyre.
  • Jane had sent him a letter about her upcoming marriage to Rochester.
  • Her uncle knew Mason and asked Mason about Rochester.
  • Mason told John Eyre that Rochester was already married, and so he came on John Eyreís behalf to save Jane.
  • Jane returns to her life of disappointment and sadness.

CHAPTER 27

  • Jane decides that she must leave Thornfield.
  • She has been in her room for almost a day, and when she finally comes out Rochester is sitting there waiting for her.
  • He tells her how much he loves her and that he is sorry. Jane really has nothing to say except that she must leave him and his home.
  • Rochester tells Jane about how he came to marry Bertha.
  • Here is the deal: In England at this time, all of a familyís property and money went to the oldest son. Rochester had an older brother and so he would get everything. Their dad set up this marriage for Rochester so that he would still be a member of upper class society, (Berthaís family had money).
  • They told Rochester that she was beautiful, etc. He met her but never spent any time alone with her.
  • After they were married he found out that she was crazy. So, he feels like he got tricked.
  • Rochester keeps trying to explain to Jane his feelings and reasons for acting the way he did.
  • Jane has some more weird dreams. She wakes and sneaks away from Thornfield not telling anyone she has gone.

CHAPTER 28

  • Jane gets dropped off in a town called Whitcross. She wanders around that area looking for a job or someone that will help her out.
  • She has been walking around all day without anything to eat and no luck finding a job. She sees a small cottage and knocks on the door.
  • The housekeeper tries to turn her away but the ladies, Diana and Mary welcome her in.
  • St. John wants to know her story right away, although Jane is too weak.
  • They invite Jane to spend the night.

CHAPTER 29

  • Jane tells them her name is Jane Elliott. She tells them the truth about her life, leaving out the part about Rochester and their wedding.
  • They let Jane stay with them until she can find a job.

CHAPTER 30

  • Jane gets along well with the Rivers and she likes them.
  • St. John offers Jane a job teaching the village children and Jane accepts.
  • Jane leaves to start her new job in the nearby town.

CHAPTER 31

  • Jane settles into her little cottage, her own home.
  • St. John visits her often because his ministry is close by.

CHAPTER 32

  • Jane gets settled in the town and starts to like it there.
  • Jane and St. John become kind of close friends.

CHAPTER 33

  • St. John has received an advertisement about Janeís life, to help people locate Jane. He knows all of Janeís life.
  • The first thing that Jane says is to ask how Rochester is.
  • St. John tells Jane that her uncle has died and left her everything.
  • Jane becomes pretty rich.
  • St. John tells Jane that they are related through the Eyre family name. Janeís uncle is also the Riversí uncle.
  • Jane is so psyched to have a family that she loves. She decides to split the money with them.

CHAPTER 34

  • Jane goes to live at the little cottage with Diana and Mary.
  • Jane begins to understand that St. John is kind of a cold man, she realizes that he does not take pleasure in anything.
  • St. John devotes a lot of his time and attention to Jane. He asks her to marry him and become a missionary with him.

CHAPTER 35

  • Jane refuses St. Johnís offer. She does not love him and does not want to go to India. He is upset and angered by her answer.
  • Jane feels a strange shock and hears her name called out. She knows that she must go to Rochester.

CHAPTER 36

  • Jane takes off for Thornfield.
  • When she gets there she sees Thornfield in ruins. She asks a local what happened and he bascially tells her that Bertha torched the place.
  • Rochester saved everyone from the fire, except Bertha.
  • She jumped off the roof and killed herself.
  • Jane finds out that Rochester is blind now and living at a smaller home nearby.

CHAPTER 37

  • Jane returns to Rochester and he is so happy to have her near him again.
  • They never stopped loving each other, but now they were free to love each other.

CHAPTER 38

  • Jane speaks directly to the reader.
  • Jane and Rochester get married.
  • Jane keeps in touch with her family.
  • Rochester regains his sight in one eye.

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU LOOK SMART

  • The fire and ice imagery. The fire stuff represents a loss of control and anger towards patriarchal society. The ice stuff is the acceptance of that.
  • The red room that Jane is sent to at the Reeds represents some kind of patriarchal terrors. The room is haunted by Mr. Reed, and is all red.
  • Jane lashes out against that in search for a place for herself as an orphan and a woman.
  • Gender roles in society are examined throughout the novel. Rochester has had to deal with establishing himself through wealth and status, because that is what males do.
  • Jane had to establish herself through a connection with a family (the Rivers) and her independent wealth.
  • Both, Jane and Rochester move beyond those establishments to one where they are content and can understand love. They are spiritual equals.