It is as easy to underestimate the range and number of characters in Jane Eyre and Villette, as it is to overestimate the riches of Shirley. Shirley, with something under 150 characters, contains rather fewer than either of the other novels. Admittedly, many of these characters flit into the pages of the novels so briefly as not to linger in our memory; nevertheless, the feat of imagination involved in bringing this range of characters to life is remarkable.
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