We see the character of Jane Eyre, an orphan, who is not enjoying her position of being cared for by her aunt, Mrs. Reed. She appears spiteful and likely to torment but Jane’s life does have some moments of much-needed consoling found in the character of Bessie, a servant.
One of the first instances of Mrs. Reed’s fierce cruelty is seen when Jane is caught fighting with her cousin, John Reed, and she locks her up in the red-room. The red-room turns out to be the chamber in which Mrs. Reed’s husband died. Whilst in the chamber, she swears that she sees the ghost of her deceased uncle and, from fright, she faints. When she eventually comes to, Jane finds herself with Bessie, who is caring for her with Mr. Lloyd, an apothecary.
Mr. Lloyd recommends to Mrs. Reed that the most ideal course of action is to send Jane to school and Mrs. Reed agrees. Though it is wonderful to be away from the painful tyranny of her aunt, Lowood School does not turn out to be the cherry she imagined. Within the headmaster, Mr. Brocklehurst, Jane finds the equivalent for her aunt.
He is incredibly hypocritical, constantly beating the kids over the head with the concept of poverty and so forth in order to frighten and control them whilst he himself exploits the system and dips into the school’s pot in order to care for his own family.
Within Lowood, Jane manages to find a buoy, a girl named Helen Burns. She is also increasingly displeased with the way in which the school is being run and she makes very clear her displeasure in her attitude, something that Jane immediately picks up on and finds both kinship and friction with.
However, though their friendship looks ripe to bloom into something rather remarkable, a breakout of typhus kills poor Helen via consumption. This endemic, however, also serves to give Mr. Brocklehurst the efficient boot, as he fears that the terrible state of the school will be on full show and, as such, it would be wise to jump ship.
Because of Brocklehurst’s departure, better men take his place and Lowood, or at least the life there for Jane, improves significantly. We see a quick succession of events melt into roughly eight years, with two of them being spent as a teacher at Lowood for Jane.
We then catch Jane at the end of her two teaching years, where she ponders the opportunities elsewhere, landing her in the position of a governess at Thornfield, where she is picked to teach a french girl, Adèle. We learn of Jane’s employer, Rochester, and we then learn of Jane’s budding feelings for the gentleman, ones of love.
The first significant event that occurs at Thornfield is the sudden fire in which Jane saves Rochester. Rochester says to Jane that he reckons Grace Poole, a servant, started it, but Jane’s quickly observes that she is not later fired and, subsequently, she wonders if she is not privy to some certain information. Later, Jane’s emotions are played with proficiently when Rochester brings a woman to the estate named Blanche Ingram.
Jane feels certain in her heart that Rochester will propose to her and all her feelings and thoughts will never see light nor fruition. However, in a surprising turn of events, Rochester does propose to Jane and Jane, shocked but enormously delighted, accepts eagerly.
We are then cut forward to the wedding of Jane and Rochester in which we witness a man named Mr. Mason stop the proceedings, crying out that Rochester already has a wife. He then develops that he is the brother of the mentioned wife, Bertha, and that the pair married years ago when both were more youthful in Jamaica. Instead of denying everything, Rochester does not resist but makes the claim that Bertha has gone insane.
To prove it, Rochester moves the wedding party back to Thornfield and shows them all Bertha, a troubled woman mangling abound on all fours like some sort of rabid animal. He reveals that he keeps her on the third storey of his manor and has Grace Poole employed to take care of her and that it was actually Bertha who set Thornfield alight and not Poole. Jane runs away from the estate, knowing that there is no hope for a marriage in this scenario.
Finding that she has no source of income, Jane is forced into begging on streets and so forth. However, her salvation is found in the form of three gracious angels, siblings Diana, Mary, and St. John Rivers. They take her in at their manor, Marsh End (or Moor House). Their friendship blossoms rather quickly and we see that St. John does well to find a position for Jane at a charity school in Morton, as he is a member of the clergy.
One day, unexpectedly, St. John informs Jane that her uncle, John Eyre, has passed away and left her a rather decent fortune of £20,000. St. John then explains that he knows all of this as he is also the nephew of John and that the Rivers are actually cousins of Jane. Presenting her nature wonderfully, Jane shares the inheritance with them all.
Some time later, St. John decides to become a missionary and, on his mission, he will travel to India in order. He asks Jane to come with him and to also be his wife. Jane is accepting of the first offer but she cannot accept the second. The two debate for a bit about her unwillingness but Jane realises that it isn’t right to lend herself to another, someone she doesn’t love, when she is aware that there is someone she loves elsewhere.
This is made manifest when Jane reckons she hears Rochester’s and, infused with a great passion and a longing, she hurries madly across the moors in order to get to Thornfield. However, she is distraught to see that the entire estate has been burnt to the ground.
She ascertains that Bertha had been responsible and had died in the eruption of flames but Rochester had been successful in saving the servants. However, in doing so, he was blinded and lost one of his hands. She then finds Rochester’s new lodgings, Ferndean, and meets his two servants, Mary and John.
We then witness the rekindling of a love between Rochester and Jane and the eventual marriage between them. We then learn that Rochester’s eyesight returned after a while, if only partially, but just in time to see his first son. Jane emphasises in her final words just how perfect and equal the marriage is and that their time together has been beyond heavenly. A true euphoric union.
An orphan who endures a harsh childhood, Jane Eyre becomes governess at Thornfield Hall in the employment of the mysterious Mr. Rochester. Jane’s moral pilgrimage and the maturity of Charlotte Bronte’s characterization are celebrated aspects of the novel, as is its imagery and narrative power. Rapidly reprinted following its first publication in 1847, Jane Eyre still enjoys huge popularity as one of the finest novels in the English language.