Jane Eyre is the main protagonist of the novel who fights for her rights to be accepted as an equal. She is also never hesitant to confront people if they have infringed upon her rights. Her determination to achieve her immediate and long-term goals adds great complexity and seriousness to her as a character. For example, though she is a Christian, she questions various practices where women are forced to be humble and subservient to men and society.
Sarah Reed is Jane Eyre’s aunt through marriage who never looked after young Jane well as she had promised her dying husband. This increases Jane’s insecurity and fear, ultimately resulting in her resentment and open defiance of her aunt. Sarah Reed never wanted Jane to do well in life or to be treated in anyway equal to her children. Her children are routinely quite cruel to Jane, however, they grow up to have significant problems of their own due to her encouragement of their cruelty. Her son John grows up to become a drunkard and a gambler who presumably commits suicide, her daughter Eliza is so unattractive and bitter that she joins a nunnery, and her daughter Georgiana is a mean-spirited but beautiful girl who has her marriage to a wealthy man impeded by her jealous sister.
Mr. Brocklehurst is the headmaster, reverend, and treasurer at the Lowood School. He encourages and plays a part in the mistreatment of the students, which is eventually brought to light. Though he is a very strict religious leader who makes the girls at his school submit to the most Spartan ways of life, he does not require the same from his own daughters.
Miss Maria Temple is the first adult who shows Jane what true love and affection is. As the superintendent of Lowood School, she is kind, affectionate and truly caring towards her wards while showing a great deal of compassion for their wellbeing. She goes out of her way to prove that Jane is not as deceitful as her Aunt Sarah made her out to be. Miss Temple acts as Jane’s first role model who shapes Jane’s future methods as a teacher and governess.
Helen Burns is Jane’s best friend at the Lowood School. Though certain teachers are cruel to her, she does not hate them and instead prays for the peace she believes she will find in heaven one day. Her influence on Jane is her profound Christian faith that is unfaltering, even in the face of death at such a young age.
Edward Fairfax Rochester is a well-travelled, brave, and tragic hero who has been wronged by his family and friends yet rises above his troubles. His deep pessimism after his first marriage turns into mad passionate love after meeting Jane; his almost bitter disdain for God turns into ultimate understanding and devotion to Him. He and Jane eventually marry and have a family of their own.
Bertha Antoinetta Mason is the beautiful, rich, but insane first wife of Edward Rochester. He married her for her wealth and looks only to discover later that mental illness is a serious problem in her family. Rochester cannot marry Jane at first because he is still married to Bertha, who he keeps locked up in the attic for safety. However, she eventually breaks free, burns down Thornfield Hall, and commits suicide.
St. John Eyre Rivers is a staunch Christian who seeks to serve the poor and needy. He discovers that Jane is his cousin and grows to enjoy her company. However, he believes that base human desires like love and intimacy must be reserved only for the needy. His practicality and clarity impresses Jane but not enough to marry him