This GCSE English Literature quiz will challenge you on character in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. Jane Eyre is peopled with a great number of characters. Jane moves from place to place until she feels that she has found her true home, and each of these moves involves her getting to know new people. The reader meets her cruel, vindictive relatives, some of the children consigned to the unmerciful Mr Brocklehurst, the teachers of Lowood, the inhabitants of Thornfield Hall and its many visitors, and the Rivers siblings. Those characters who have a particularly strong impact on Jane’s development include Mrs Reed, Miss Temple, Mr Brocklehurst, Helen Burns, Mr Rochester and St John Rivers. Other characters might be pleasant companions for Jane, such as the Rivers sisters, or fulfil a function, such as Adèle, who provides both a reason for Jane to live at Thornfield and an insight into Mr Rochester’s character.
Jane Eyre is related through first person narration. The style of narration encourages the reader to see the world as Jane sees it. The injustices which she experiences become our own. We are invited to share her powerful emotions and can easily be swept along with the current of feeling. The reader understands characters through their actions, the speech, and through Jane’s perceptions of these. When Jane is about to submit to St John’s proposal, despite her strong reservations, the reader perceives St John’s words and actions through the prism of Jane’s inner turmoil.
When reading fiction, pay close attention to how each character interacts with others, as well as how they change over time. Jane Eyre covers a period of many years, from childhood until Jane is a grown woman and mother. How and when does she change? How does Rochester change? Can you identify the events or conversations which help characters to develop over time? Which of Jane’s characteristics remain constant?
Answer the questions below to see how well you understand the characters in Jane Eyre.