Classic Remarks is meme hosted at Pages Unbound that asks questions every Friday about classic literature in hopes of starting a conversation. This week’s prompt is:
Is Jane Eyre‘s Rochester an attractive, brooding Love Interest or Dangerously Manipulative?
This post has spoilers for Jane Eyre and assumes some knowledge of the plot!
Jane & Rochester
Sitting in a tree
Gee is that his wife in the attic?!
I never really thought about it before but this is so Real Wives of Thornfield isn’t it?!
Jane Eyre has always been in my top three books. I first read it in high school (I’m eternally grateful to Julie for recommending it to me). I’ve always loved it’s titular character. She’s got some real spunk. I admire her desire to find a better life for herself, instead of being content to sit back and let others control her destiny. It would have been so easy to give up on herself, considering all she went through in her early years. Then she winds up in this great old house, taking care of a nice little girl, and has caught the eye of the owner, one Edward Fairfax Rochester.
He is not such a nice guy (IMO). He is manipulative from the first. Jane she calls him out on his nonesense, and I LOVE it! When he asks her to marry him it seems like everything is finally going right for our girl Jane. Then you find out he’s already married. Oh yeah. Plus his wife has been living in the attic the whole time, and she crazy.
This crazy wife Bertha, has escaped her attic prison before and attempted to kill Rochester, and NO ONE TOLD JANE WHAT WAS GOING ON. Don’t you think that was some necessary information? After his prior marriage is found out, he persists in trying to set Jane up as his mistress.
I’ve been a big fan of Jane Eyre, but I am really just a fan of Jane herself. I never understood the whole Rochester as love interest thing. I get the powerful attraction they had, but I think one of the things that makes her so interesting to me is that she didn’t make excuses for his bad behavior. However much she wanted to be with him, she was not willing to sacrifice her personal integrity just to keep her man. To be honest, when she did finally go back to him I never got on board with it. She had no guarantee that his attitudes had changed at all. I guess we are just supposed to take it for granted that the Universe had compelled her to return. Ok, whatever.
Rochester is an interesting character and is not without his likeable characteristics. I saw him as what Jane could have been. He is a version of Jane with too much money, a really terrible parental example, and having been exposed and expected to conform to the moral laxness that comes with being rich, noble and male in that time. He is Jane without Helen to teach her gentleness, compassion and strength of character. Without Ms. Temple to teach her grace under fire, and industriousness in spite of opposition. He is at heart, not a bad person. That’s why I don’t hate that he ends up with Jane. I think she makes him a better person. I just think it’s a fantasy. That doesn’t happen in real life. As such the romance should not be taken as an example, only Jane. She’s what truly matters here.