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Jane Eyre : summary

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Jane Eyre is a notable literary work by Charlotte Brontë. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of Jane Eyre.

summary

Jane Eyre is a timeless novel by the English novelist Charlotte Brontë. It was published under her pen name “Currer Bell” on 19 October 1847. Read the summary of the novel here.

Childhood Struggle at Gateshead

At the novel’s beginning, we see Jane Eyre, a 10-year-old orphan who lives in the house of her cruel, wealthy aunt, Mrs. Reed, in Gateshead. Mrs. Reed has two daughters, Georgiana and Eliza, and a son, John. Like their mother, they also hate Jane. John spends the whole day looking for opportunities to spoil Jane’s life by belittling and hurting her. A maid named Bessie provides Jane with some of the few compassion she receives, telling her stories and singing songs.

One day, John sees Jane hiding behind the curtain, reading a book. He calls her an orphan. He snatches the book from her hand and throws it on her head. Jane slaps him in anger. Mrs. Reed locks Jane in the red room as punishment, where her Uncle Reed died. Jane believes that her uncle’s ghost haunts the house. At night, she gets terrified and faints. Regaining consciousness, Jane finds the kindly doctor, Mr. Lloyd, and Miss Bessie beside her. Mr Lloyd wants to help Jane and advises Mrs Reed that she should send her to a distant boarding school.

Life at Lowood School

Jane is sent to Lowood School. The director and headmaster of this school, Mr. Brocklehurst, is a cruel, hypocritical, and double-edged man. He preaches a religious doctrine of poverty and deprivation but steals from the school’s funds. He uses the school’s funds to give his family a wealthy and luxurious life. Life at the Lowood school is hard. Jane befriends a young girl named Helen Burns at the school. Helen poses a religious sacrificing attitude to the school’s miseries and helps Jane. Jane’s other well-wisher is the kind-hearted teacher, Miss Maria Temple. A deadly typhus epidemic sweeps Lowood. Many students die of consumption, including Jane’s friend Helen. This epidemic brings the school’s corruption and hunger to light, resulting in the departure of Mr. Brocklehurst. After that, Lowood’s condition improves, and Jane stays there for two years as a teacher after completing her studies.

Governess at Thornfield and Finding Love

Jane yearns for new experiences and accepts a governess job at a manor named Thornfield. She teaches a French girl named Adele. Adele’s initial identity is that Mr. Rochester, the estate owner, has adopted her. However, another story is that Mr. Rochester was in love with her mother, Celine. When Rochester noticed that Celine was greedy and an unfaithful woman, he moved in with Adele. Housekeeper Mrs Fairfax looks after the estate. Jane’s employer, Mr. Rochester, is an impassionate and mysterious man. Jane secretly falls in love with him. One night, she saves Rochester from a fire. Jane is told that the drunken servant Grace Poole accidentally set the fire. However, she does not buy it as the servant continues to work on the estate. One day, Rochester brings home a money-grubbing woman named Blanche Ingram. Jane sinks into despair. She thinks Rochester would marry Blanche. Surprisingly, Rochester proposes to Jane, which she accepts happily.

Jane goes back to the Gateshead to see her sick aunt. Mrs. Reed says that she still hates Jane. Jane also learns that John Reed has destroyed himself through alcohol and gambling. The last time he came, he wanted to write down all the property from his mother. A few days later, he died in London. Mrs. Reed told Jane that her uncle, John Eyre, sent her a letter that Mrs. Reed received three years ago. She also told her uncle that Jane died of typhus fever. Jane’s aunt died that day.

Jane and Rochester prepare to exchange their wedding vows on the wedding day. Just then, a man named Mr. Mason arrives and claims that Rochester already has a wife named Bertha Mason. Mr. Mason is the wife’s brother, and Rochester married her as a young man in Jamaica. Rochester does not deny it. He says that Bertha Mason has become insane. Returning to Thornfield, Bertha Mason is found insane and crawling on her four. Rochester keeps her on the third floor, and she is the reason for the earlier fire and mysterious screams. Grace Poole is appointed to keep her under control. Now, Jane realizes the screams she heard earlier. Jane does not want to stay with Rochester as his mistress. So, she flees Thornfield. 

Taking Shelter at the Rivers

After that, Jane becomes penniless. She suffers from starvation and is reduced to begging for food from door to door. Three siblings, Mary, Diana, and St. John Rivers, gave her shelter. Their estate is named Moor House. Jane becomes friends with the three siblings. St. John is a clergyman. He finds Jane a teaching job at a charity school in Morton. One day, St. John surprises Jane by informing her that Jane’s uncle, John Eyre, left her a considerable fortune of 20,000 pounds. Jane becomes more surprised after hearing that she is relative to the three siblings because Jane and the Rivers are cousins. Jane decides to share the money equally with her Rivers cousins.

One day, St. John Rivers decides to travel to India for religious missionary work. He proposes to Jane to marry and accompany him. Jane disagrees with his proposal because she still loves the love of her life, Mr. Rochester. Marrying St. John would mean sacrificing love. She cannot abandon the man she truly loves.

Returning to her True Love

One night, in a dream, she hears Rochester’s voice calling her name over the moors. She immediately hurries back to Thornfield. There, she finds Thorfield Manor burnt to ashes. A fire was set by Rochester’s insane wife, Bertha Mason. Rochester managed to save his maid and servants but lost his eyesight and severely injured one hand. Jane finds that Rochester is in Ferndean. She goes there and marries Rochester. Jane writes that she and Rochester enjoy a blissful marriage with love and equality. After two years of blindness, Rochester regained sight in one of his eyes. Jane writes her husband was fortunate enough to see their newborn child.