Characters in a play, novel, drama or movie can be categorized as major characters, with a main character among them; and minor characters. Main characters are the people who the piece of art greatly revolves around. The minor characters are individuals who are not the main point of the story. They usually catch the attention of the main characters and influence the plot of the story by greatly impacting on the main characters. In the novel Jane Eyre, there are three major characters with the main character being Jane Eyre. Other major characters are Edward Rochester and St John’s Rovers. There are a number of minor characters whose great influence on the major characters significantly affects the plot of the story. This paper seeks to study the various roles played by the minor characters in the novel Jane Eyre.
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The minor characters in the novel Jane Eyre have not been developed like the major three characters. They fail to develop and progress along with the story as the major characters do. Each one of them seems to have a specific role to play within the story. Some have their roles terminate as the story progresses on the basis of what happens to them in the story. Even though their behavior is somehow predictable, they help in bringing out the different aspects concerning the major characters. The major roles carried out by these minor characters are character revelation, developing the plot of the story, symbolizing certain aspects, and for purposes of comic relief. These roles are as discussed below.
Most readers quite often make judgments about the characters in a novel on the basis of their assumptions and observation which in most cases may not reflect the true picture. In the novel Jane Eyre, it is quite clear that Jane is in love with Edward Rochester as seen his words to her in chapter 37. He is quoted as saying, “My living darling! These are certainly her limbs, and these her features; but I cannot be so blest, after all my misery. It is a dream; such dreams as I have had at night when I have clasped her once more to my heart, as I do now; and kissed her, as thus--and felt that she loved me, and trusted that she would not leave me.". Edward decides to keep Jane as a mistress despite the fact that they are deeply in love. He is married to an insane wife named Bertha who is a minor character in the play. Through Bertha, certain character traits of Edward Rochester are revealed. He is married that is why he decides to keep Jane as a mistress. We get to know that he made blunders during his youth and that is why he was tricked into marriage. He is portrayed as one who has resigned to fate and opted to stick to the marriage rather than seek divorce. He is also portrayed as being loyal to his wife as he goes to the extent of losing his vision and hands in his attempt to save his insane wife from burning even though she is the one who caused the fire. By constantly hiding Bertha, he is portrayed as a cruel person who is inconsiderate since he lets his feelings of shame override his ability to seek help for his insane wife.
Minor characters do provide essential information that helps in developing the story. In the novel Jane Eyre, Minor characters like Maria Temple and Burns teach and portray the art of endurance. Even though they undergo a lot of challenges, they persevere on the belief that endurance pays. Jane feels impressed by these teachings but does not practice them herself until the time she breaks up with Edward Rochester where she decides to apply the teachings on endurance. This enables here to live past the break up time as she is able to endure the harsh realities that come with break up hence developing the story further.
Minor characters sometimes symbolize certain aspect in life that helps propel or terminate the story. In the novel, Helen is quoted as say “if people were always kind and obedient to those who are cruel and unjust, the wicked people would have it all their way. They would never feel afraid, and so they would never alter’. This portrays her as a passionate person with societal virtues.
Certain actions by the minor characters have comic relief perspective in them. These acts are actions that the main character cannot undertake. In the novel Jane Eyre, John Reed, who is Jane’s cousin, treats Jane with a lot of cruelty. As he grows up, he engages in gambling activities and heavy drinking. As the story progresses, he commits suicide after his mother who is Mrs. Reeds refuses to pay debts he accumulated in his gambling activities. It is ironical that one would take away their lives if their parents fail to pay the debts they have accumulated.
In conclusion, minor characters have been found to play significant roles that influence the behavior of other characters. This affects the general plot and development of a play, movie, drama or novel. Therefore, they are important part of any art work.
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