Jane Eyre


Plot Summary

The novel may be divided into three parts: the first part dealing with Jane’s childhood at Gateshead and formation at Lowood; the second part dealing with her residence at Thornfield as governess of Adele; the third part dealing with her flight from Thornfield, her rescue by St. John Rivers and his sisters, and her return to Rochester. The novel describes in detail Jane’s attempt to discern her own heart, the reality of the world around her, and God’s law.

The story begins at Gateshead, where Jane is an unhappy ten-year-old girl—submissive to a point, explosive when pushed too far. She is despised by her aunt and cousins and treated cruelly, begs for mercy, is denied mercy and finally retaliates with force and vigor. From Gateshead she is sent to Lowood, a school for orphans owned by the unpleasant Mr. Brocklehurst but managed by the kindly Miss Temple. At Lowood, Jane is much more content in spite of the deprivations she faces. She befriends Helen Burns, who teaches her the true nature of charity and Christian virtue, as well as Miss Temple and Mary Ann Wilson. Jane learns more about herself and her own temperament and grows into a well-formed young woman under the loving guidance of Miss Temple.

Following Miss Temple’s marriage and departure, Jane decides to leave Lowood, where she has transformed from student into teacher, and seek employment as a governess. Her advertisement is answered by Mrs. Fairfax, the housekeeper of Thornfield Hall, and Jane sets off to be the governess of Adele, who is the ward of Mr. Rochester.

Mr. Rochester falls in love with Jane because she is the antithesis of all he has experienced in womanhood before: She is unostentatious, thoughtful, analytical, humorous, and above all, virtuous. Despite her plain looks, she wins Mr. Rochester through her overall goodness of character. Her sympathy for Mr. Rochester likewise blooms into love as she is more and more deeply impressed by the story of his life and his desire to be good.

The only hitch in their romance is the existence of a...

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