jane eyre is a first-person narrative of the title character, a small, plain-faced, intelligent and honest english orphan. the novel goes through five distinct stages — jane's childhood at gateshead, where she is abused by her aunt and cousins; her education at lowood academy, where she acquires friends and role models but also suffers privations; her time as the governess of thornfield manor, where she falls in love with her byronic employer, edward rochester; her time with the rivers family at marsh's end (or moor house) and morton, where her cold clergyman-cousin st john rivers proposes to her; and her reunion with and marriage to her beloved rochester at his house of ferndean. partly autobiographical, the novel abounds with social criticism and sinister gothic elements.
jane eyre is divided into 38 chapters; most editions are at least 400 pages long (although the preface and introduction on certain copies are liable to take up another 100). the original was published in three volumes — volume one (comprising chapters one to fifteen), volume two (sixteen to 26) and volume three (27 to 38).