American literature offers a wide range of classic reads to choose from. Students are probably familiar with most of them as teachers like to assign book reviews based on classic literature like Romeo and Juliet and The Great Gatsby. Novels falling under the category of classic literature presents themes and events that are both timely relating to the era in which it was written, and also timeless so that readers nowadays can still grasp and relate to what is being told in the story so as to encourage discussion. This sample of a literature review’s character analysis will explore Charlotte Brontë’s classic literature contribution, Jane Eyre, and will include a summary of the story.
The novel Jane Eyre was originally published back in 1847 and was entitled Jane Eyre: An Autobiography. Charlotte Brontë listed herself as the editor of this book under her pseudonym Currer Bell. It was later revealed that Charlotte Brontë wrote Jane Eyre, specifically the first parts of it when Jane was residing in Lowood, with an inspiration to her own life. Charlotte Brontë’s experiences mirror those of Jane Eyre’s – even if not accurately. The novel Jane Eyre immediately rose to success as it tells the story of an unconventional heroine who has the ability to overcome her struggles despite the hindrances that she faced.
The first person narrative construction of this novel also helped a lot in engaging its readers to the story. The sense of urgency is heightened as readers often feel like they are part of the story and not just reading a book. Charlotte Brontë usually addressed her readers to keep them hooked to reading the book. Even if Jane Eyre has been published in the Victorian era, readers suggest that is shows Romanticism qualities. The way Jan Eyre’s adulthood story has been told in this book has combined themes from both eras and has highlighted her strength and independence as a female heroine.
Summary of Jane Eyre
The novel started by introducing a young Jane Eyre – only 10 years of age at the beginning of the novel – an orphaned girl who lives with her aunt, Mrs. Reed, and her family as young Jane was left in their care by her uncle who passed away. Because her uncle has taken a liking towards Jane Eyre, Mrs. Reed and her children harbors scornful feelings towards her. They make it a point to neglect her and make sure she feels that she is unwanted in their household. Mrs. Reed’s children, specifically her son John, bullies Jane. Even at such a young age, Jane Eyre fights back when she is being wronged.
One day, Jane confronts John as he bullies her which angered Mrs. Reed. As punishment, Mrs. Reed sent Jane to the red-room – where her late husband died. In the room, Jane becomes convinced that she saw her late uncle’s ghost. She screams and faints. Afterwards, she woke up being cared for by the house servant Bessie Lee who tells her stories and whom she has befriended, and the apothecary Mr. Lloyd. Seeing her condition, Mr. Lloyd suggested to Mrs. Reed to send off Jane Eyre to a school. Mrs. Reed gladly accepts the suggestion and immediately send Jane off to Lowood School.
This decision made Jane hopeful but that hope was soon crushed when she experienced what it was actually like to be under the care of Mr. Brocklehurst, the headmaster of Lowood School. Jane Eyre experienced humiliation in that school, when Mr. Brocklehurst accused her of being a liar. Mr. Brocklehurst’s hypocrisy and cruelty is evident in the way he preaches a doctrine of poverty to the girls while embezzling the school funds to fund his own lavish lifestyle.
In Lowood, Jane Eyre befriends a girl by the name of Helen Burns. Helen Burns has a martyr-like attitude and upholds her strong belief of Christian forgiveness and tolerance. This made her vulnerable to the constant maltreatment of a teacher which she chooses to ignore. While Jane detests Helen’s ways, Jane still tries to emanate the same energy in her own character. Helen’s patience and calmness even when she is under constant maltreatment is a source of admiration and mysticism to Jane. However, during an outbreak of typhus fever in the school, Jane’s only friend Helen dies.
The many deaths due to the typhus fever in the school have captured the attention of Lowood School’s benefactors and have thus unearthed the embezzling Mr. Brocklehurst. Once Mr. Brocklehurst was removed from the school, Jane Eyre seems to have found herself in a completely different environment, which she was obviously able to endure as she had continued her schooling there for 6 more years and even taught at Lowood School for 2 years after.
Being a heroine, Jane Eyre found herself craving for something more than the life she has at Lowood so she accepts the position to work as a governess in Thornfield Manor where she was to be responsible of caring for Adèle, her master’s daughter. During her stay at the manor, she noted a few strange things like the absence of her master and the strange demonic laugh that seems to come from some part in the house. When she finally met her master, Edward Rochester, after not meeting him since the beginning of her tenure.
Jane Eyre found herself feeling attracted and gradually developing romantic feelings for Edward Rochester. Her feelings for Edward Rochester continue to grow even after he told her about how he once had an affair with Adèle’s mother –Adèle is not his child although he still took her in as his ward when Adèle’s mother went off to have an affair with another man in another country. However, despite Jane Eyre’s attraction towards Edward Rochester, he seems to have his eyes set on another woman – Blanche Ingram. This dampened Jane’s hopes as she is convinced that Edward is about to propose marriage to Blanche when she is invited to the house for a party of English aristocrats.
Going back, there was a night where Jane had to save Edward from a fire in his bedroom. Edward blames the fire on another servant who has a propensity for gin, Grace Poole. However, Jane feels like Edward is not telling the whole story for she observed that Grace Poole has not been sacked and instead is still working in the manor. On a separate occasion, on the night of Blanche Ingram’s visit to Thornfield Manor, Richard Mason, presented as an old acquaintance of Edward, has suffered from scratches and bites from the third floor of the manor. Edward had Jane help bandage the man’s wounds.
To continue, Jane Eyre returned to Mrs. Reed, her aunt, for a few weeks to see her before she departs. When she came back to Thornfield Manor, Edward reveals to her his intention of marrying her and not Blanche Ingram for Blanche Ingram’s true purpose was to get hold of Edward’s money. Jane and Edward’s marriage was interrupted when it was revealed to Jane that Edward is already married and that his wife, Bertha Mason, is locked away on the third floor of the manor due to the fact that she has fallen into madness. Unable to go against her principles, Jane Eyre decides to flee Thornfield Manor for she cannot bear the thought of being a mistress to Edward.
After spending 3 days in the streets begging for food and sleeping outdoors, she has been taken in by a St. John Rivers and his two sisters. St. John is a stoic clergyman who has given her a job to teach in a school. It was one day revealed that they are in fact cousins as her departed uncle, John Eyre, who left her a great fortune of 20,000 pounds upon his passing, was the three siblings’ uncle too. Jane decided to split her inheritance equally with her newfound cousins.
Afterwards, when St. John decided to go to India as a missionary, he offered to marry Jane so she could also accompany him on his trip. Jane Eyre nearly agrees to this as St. John is adamant in urging her to accept his hand in marriage. However, his sisters were disinclined to the idea and talked sense into Jane. Furthermore, Jane realizes that she cannot truly abandon Edward, whom she truly loves, and that she refuses to compromise her passion for someone she does not truly love.
Upon hearing Edward Rochester’s voice calling out her name in a mystical connection, she decided to go back to Thornfield. Upon arriving, she found the house burned down and found out that Bertha Mason, being the arsonist that she is, burned the house down to the ground and eve lost her life to the fire. Edward, on the other hand, lived after saving his servants but had suffered from blindness and even lost a hand. She found him in his new residence, Ferndean, where they rebuilt their relationship and soon got married. It was revealed that they had a son and that Edward regained his eyesight in time for the birth of his first son, two years after suffering from blindness.
Characters in Jane Eyre
The characters in Jane Eyre are diverse, not just in race but also in their personalities, goals, and how they view Jane. In the story, Jane Eyre encounters people who despise her, ostracize her, assist her, adore her, and guide her. As Jane Eyre presents a lot of characters with interesting stories and backgrounds, this paper will only provide a short character analysis of those with extreme significance to the plot and Jane Eyre herself.
- Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre is the protagonist and narrator of the novel. In the beginning, she was presented as an atypical and rebellious child who is lacking in emotional ties as the ones who took her under their care refuses to give her the love she so obviously needs. As a woman, Jane Eyre blossomed into a well-principled, dignified, and independent woman after facing countless instances of oppression and hardship starting with the tutelage of one Mrs. Reed up to how St. John eventually reduced her as something of ownership when he offered her marriage. Her beliefs and ideals stay intact despite temptations and degradation of her person throughout the story. She knows how to stand firm on her moral ground and refuses to compromise her freedom and independence for something inferior. Jane Eyre is highly admired by readers as she is truly an unconventional heroine who is able to overcome hardships familiar to people even nowadays.
- Edward Rochester
Edward Rochester was Jane Eyre’s former employer at Thornfield Manor. He has a constantly brooding façade as he is haunted by his poor decisions from his youth. He is a wealthy, passionate yet forceful, and unconventional man. His current problems are caused by his own recklessness as a young man – this includes his early marriage to Bertha Mason. He is a sympathetic man who never feared to interact with Jane despite the difference in their social standing. His and Jane’s marriage flipped their roles – because Jane used to be the one inferior or dependent on Edward – as he was blinded at the time and Jane has newly acquired fortune. However, the balance of their marriage is regained when one of his blinded eyes began to see again.
- St. John Rivers
St. John Rivers, despite being a clergyman, is stoic, cold, and controlling – qualities that does not seem to describe an ideal clergyman. However, he is the one who provided Jane food, shelter, and a job after she fled Thornfield Manor. Jane believes that St. John’s sense of duty to God is warped as he was completely alienated to what love actually entails. He was so focused on fulfilling his Christian duties that he proposed marriage to Jane just to have her accompany him on his missionary trip even though he was devoid of love for her or anyone else for that matter. Charlotte Brontë gives the impression that St. John could have had a much brighter and more meaningful life if only he had known and accepted love.
- Mrs. Reed
Mrs. Reed is Jane Eyre’s aunt who took her in even if she detests the idea because her departed husband had made her promise to do so. She tormented Jane as she was growing up just because she harbored deep hatred for Jane. She revealed that the reason for this is that her husband adored Jane than their own children – and they had three of them. Even on her deathbed, she refused to apologize to Jane for treating her the way she did when Jane was a child. She refused Jane even when she was offered reconciliation on her deathbed and she even lied to Jane’s other uncle, John Eyre, saying that Jane had passed away from the typhus fever that happened in Lowood School.
- Bertha Mason
Bertha Mason is the wife of Edward Rochester. She used to be a beautiful and wealthy Creole woman but has fallen into madness. In an effort to consolidate the wealth of her and Edward’s family, they had married. Edward did not bother looking into her background – the reason as to why he is bound to suffer later on – and found out too late that Bertha’s family had a history of insanity. Bertha Mason had been kept a secret and was imprisoned in the third floor of the Thornfield Manor as she had become violent and bestial because of her insanity. However, there are times she is able to escape due her often inebriated guard. She died after she set the manor on fire. Bertha is an image of the inequality of marriage during the time of writing of this novel.
- Helen Burns
Helen Burns was Jane Eyre’s only friend in Lowood School. She upholds the Christian value of forgiveness and tolerance which causes her to be completely passive to the mistreatment she receives from one of their teachers. Jane could not fathom her friend’s beliefs yet she tries to apply it to her life. Helen, being an orphan like Jane Eyre, believes that her true family awaits her in heaven and that is why she remained unwavering and just accepts all the unreasonable and cruel punishments directed at her. Jane got her belief of relying on strangers’ spiritual kindness from Helen who died because of the outbreak of typhus fever in their school.
- Mr. Brocklehurst
Mr. Brocklehurst is the exact opposite of the down-to-earth Helen Burns. Mr. Brocklehurst is dishonest and of hypocritical nature. He is in charge of managing Lowood School, a job that he does poorly as he was too busy embezzling the school’s funds for his own gain. He knows nothing of respect and treats the students cruelly and unfairly. He once humiliated Jane Eyre by branding her a liar but thankfully a teacher saved Jane Eyre’s reputation.
- Bessie Lee and Mr. Lloyd
Bessie Lee and Mr. Lloyd helped Jane Eyre survive growing up as the ward of Mrs. Reed as a child. Bessie Lee is a servant in the household who reads and sings to Jane. It may be said that she is the one who gave Jane some of the affection she needed from a family as a child. She is also the one who took care of Jane after she has been locked in the red room by Mrs. Reed. Mr. Lloyd is the Reed family’s apothecary, who also looked after Jane after her traumatic experience in the red room. He is also the one who suggested that Jane be sent to school. He even helped Jane’s teacher to clear the charges against Jane when Mr. Brocklehurst branded Jane as a liar.
- Diana Rivers and Mary Rivers
Diana and Mary are sisters to St. John. Both are kind and intelligent women and served as a role model for Jane. The sisters are both independent and thus have strengthened Jane’s desire of her own independence. Apart from that, they are the representation of women from the Victorian Era who are unwanted by men due to the fact that they are learned, intelligent, and is able to make their own decisions. Despite both sisters’ misfortunes, they have remained compassionate and are the ones who helped Jane adjust when they took her in. Diana and Mary are also the ones who urged Jane, in contrary to their brother’s desire, not to accept his marriage proposal.
Charlotte Brontë – without question – wrote Jane Eyre with a fierce heart. Using her own life story as inspiration for some parts of the novel, she is able to impart to her readers her desire to be independent, strong, and respected as a woman who was living during her time. And up until this day, her novel still manages to inspire many readers, especially females, to take a stand and start to think what’s best for them. Jane Eyre makes the readers think and take action about the kind of life they are leading and if they are being like, for instance, disrespectful Mr. Brocklehurst and unfeeling St. John Rivers.
A good book is one that makes the readers reflect and take action about what they have observed. It inspires and adds new knowledge. Capturing this – the essence of the theme of a book – is what’s important in writing a book review. This requires analytical and creative writing skills. A student crunched on time may not find it appealing to have to immerse themselves into reading a couple hundred paged book for a written assignment. This is that CustomEssayMeister is for. CustomEssayMeister is a custom essay writing service that provides clients high quality custom essays. CustomEssayMeister’s professional writers are able to write about any subject under the sun so you won’t have to worry about your custom essay writing needs.
Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Smith, Elder & Co., 1847.
Cregan-Reid, Vybarr, and The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Jane Eyre | Summary, Characters, Analysis, & Facts.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 12 May 2020, www.britannica.com/topic/Jane-Eyre-novel-by-Bronte.