Looking at the two main characters' growth and development, one perceives that Jane Eyre has the structure of a double Bildungsroman, According to R. B. Martin, action

moves towards the maturity and self-knowledge of its two central characters. Jane's maturation is, of course, the more detailed and central of the two, but Rochester's growth is necessary to complete Miss Bronte's vision of the world. Jane is kept by eonscienee and the force of example from making gross errors of judgment, but Rochester's story is of sin and redemption; the prudent and the imprudent inhabit the same world. The result is not to divide the novel but to intensify it by showing parallel although differing actions, an effect like that which Shakespeare achieves by doubling his plots, so that, for example, Gloucester's trials illuminate those of Lear [pp. 58-59].

What does this development of not one but two characters imply about the themes of the novel?

Can you think of any earlier novels that similarly show such a double development of a male and female lead character and their eventual marriage?

Other comments on Jane Eyre by R. B. Martin


Martin, Robert B. Charlotte Bronte's Novels: The Accents of Persuasion. NY: Norton, 1966.

Last modified 23 October 2002