Jane Eyre - Character

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.

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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.

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  1. Which of the following events demonstrates Miss Temple's compassion soon after Jane's arrival at Lowood School?
    Miss Temple attempts to soften the harsh regime at Lowood School, which is designed to subdue the "charity" girls both physically and psychologically
  2. St John Rivers is an austere man. Which of the following lines of dialogue best depicts this aspect of his character?
    St John describes himself to Jane as a "cold, hard man". He rejects his passions in favour of obeying reason
  3. Which of the following characterises Bertha Mason's attitude towards Mr Rochester?
    Bertha Mason eventually sets fire to Thornfield, targeting especially Jane's former bed. She had already set fire to Rochester's bed on an earlier occasion
  4. "My uncle Reed is in heaven and can see all you do and think; and so can papa and mama: they know how you shut me up all day long, and how you wish me dead." What does this quotation tell the reader about Jane?
    Jane is not afraid to speak the truth to authority figures and can see clearly the hypocrisy of adults such as her aunt
  5. Upon first meeting Mr Rochester, Jane feels comfortable speaking to him because he is....
    Jane reports that she could not have spoken to the unknown Mr Rochester if he had been elegant, gallant or beautiful
  6. Which of the following adjectives does NOT describe Blanche Ingram?
    Blanche speaks haughtily of governesses, whom she considers beneath her in status and intelligence, in the presence of Jane. Jane dislikes her while recognising that she is both beautiful and talented
  7. Which of the following does NOT express one of Mr Brocklehurst's beliefs about the appropriate way to educate and care for the children of Lowood School?
    Mr Brocklehurst does not apply the same standards to his own children, who are well cared-for and luxuriously dressed
  8. Whose affections does Mr Rochester accept without much pleasure?
    Adèle is an affectionate child, but Mr Rochester cannot help viewing her as a miniature version of her mother, his exuberant French mistress
  9. Who makes Jane feel at home in Thornfield, despite the grandness of the building and the cool, gruff behaviour of its owner?
    Mrs Fairfax surprises Jane with her kindness. Jane had expected to be treated coldly as a governess: "I anticipated only coldness and stiffness: this is not like what I have heard of the treatment of governesses; but I must not exult too soon"
  10. What does Helen try to teach Jane?
    Jane learns patience from Helen although she does not always agree with her friend's views, especially with the idea of accepting injustice without complaint

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