Jane Eyre Study Guide and Summary

1. Four main characters (and one-sentence description of each)

1. Jane Eyre – The book follows her (the main character) through her troubled childhood and life as a young woman.

2. Mrs. Reed – She was entrusted with the care of Jane Eyre and frankly hates her.

3. Mr. Rochester – Jane works for him as a governess to Adele, but he falls in love with her and marries her in the end of the book.

4. The Rivers – After Jane leaves Rochester, she finds shelter under their roof to find out later that they are cousins.

2. Two minor Characters

1. Adele – She is the ward of Mr. Rochester and the bastard child of a French opera singer.

2. Mrs. Temple – She is a teacher at Lowood school in whom Jane finds a close friend.

3. Three main settings

1. Gateshead – This is the house of Mrs. Reed where Jane lives until she is about 10.

2. Lowood School – Jane attends this boarding school for eight years, six as a student and 2 as a teacher.

3. Thornfield – This is the house of Edward Rochester where Jane lives as a Governess to Adele.

4. One paragraph plot outline

The story starts as Jane suffers life under Mrs. Reed who hates her and treats her poorly. At the age of 10, Jane is sent by Mrs. Reed to a boarding school called Lowood. Jane goes to the school, and despite efforts by Mrs. Reed to make her life hard, Jane enjoys the school and excels in her studies. She stays at the school making many friends (one of whom died of an illness) and becoming a teacher for two years. At the end of the two years, her favorite teacher, Mrs. Temple, gets married and leaves the school. Jane finds little purpose in staying at the school and advertises for a position as governess. She finds a job working for Mr. Rochester teaching a young French girl named Adele at Thornfield. As she teaches there a while, she falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and he falls in love with her. They plan to get married, but on the wedding day, it is found out that Mr. Rochester has a living wife. He confesses it but shows them that his wife is a lunatic. Jane leaves during the night as is homeless and destitute for a few days. She is taken in by the Rivers and lives with them for a while. St. John Rivers finds her a job teaching at a local country school and she does so for a while. St. John Rivers eventually informs Jane that a close relative of hers had died and left his fortune of 20 thousand pounds to her. Finding out that she and the Rivers are cousins, she splits the fortune between the four of them. St. John plans to leave for India as a missionary and wants to take Jane with him as a wife. Jane refuses. After John leaves to say bye to some acquaintances, Jane leaves in search of Mr. Rochester, only to find Thornfield burned down by Rochester’s lunatic wife. Jane inquires about him and finds out that he is living at Ferndean, another of his houses. She goes there and finds Mr. Rochester blind and crippled. They fall in love and get married.

Two symbols and references

1. The pearl necklace – This symbolizes the love between Rochester and Jane, and the marriage which could have been and which eventually became.

2. Jane’s Lowood frocks – Jane’s clothes brought from Lowood symbolize Jane’s humility and stoutness against luxury and fine living, even when offered her by her fiancee.

Two or three sentences on style

The style of the book is simple but flowing. The meanings of the sentences are very accessible, but learned. They have an educated feel while not being too heavy.

One or two sentences of dominant philosophy

Jane Eyre seems to teach that money is not everything. Jane was happy with and without money which did not make too much of a difference in her life.

Four short quotations typical of the work (include speaker, occasion)

1. “We had no boots, the snow got into our shoes and melted there; our ungloved hands
became numbed and covered with chilblains, as were our feet: I remember well the
distracting irritation I endured from this cause every evening, when my feet inflamed;
and the torture of thrusting the swelled, raw and stiff toes into my shoes in the
morning. Then the scanty supply of food was distressing… From the deficiency of
nourishment resulted an abuse, which pressed hardly on the younger pupils; whenever
the famished great girls had an opportunity, they would coax or menace the little ones
out of their portion.” Jane says this describing her poor condition at Lowood school.

2. “Listen then Jane Eyre to your sentence: tomorrow place the glass before you, and draw in chalk your own picture, faithfully, without softening one defect; omit no harsh line, smooth away no displeasing irregularity; write under it, ‘Portrait of a Governess, disconnected, poor, and plain.’” Jane tells this to herself trying to convince herself out of her love for Mr. Rochester by convincing that he has much better women to choose from than her.

3. “I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.” Jane tells this to the Rivers when they take her in and question her about her position.

4. “Whether it is better, I ask, to be a slave in a fool’s paradise at Marseilles – fevered with
delusive bliss one hour – suffocating with the bitterest tears of remorse and shame the
next – or to be a village schoolmistress, free and honest, in a breezy mountain nook in
the healthy heart of England?” Jane says this to St. John Rivers when he offers her the teaching position at Morton School thinking that she would shun the job. She shows that the puts a great priority on honest work.

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