Character relationships

Jane and Rochester

The relationship between Jane and Rochester is at the center of the novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. 

Jane and Rochester’s relationship is fueled bypassion. In Rochester, Jane finds a kindred spirit, as she admires his mind. In turn, Rochester is attracted to Jane’s purity and innocence, and her honest and blunt manner. However, at the beginning, Jane and Rochester are not equals. Rochester is more than fifteen years older than Jane, significantly wealthier, and he is also her employer. As Jane gives in to passion and falls more and more in love with Rochester, she overlooks his faults: “I was growing very lenient to my master: I was forgetting all his faults, for which I had once kept a sharp look-out. (…) Now I saw no bad” (Chapter 18, 45%).

Rochester’s courtship of Jane is also unconventional and highlights Rochester’s immoral character. He tricks her by pretending to be a fortune teller, and by pretending to pursue and wish to marry Blanche Ingram. In this way, Rochester causes Jane pain through his deception as he tries to get her to confess her feelings for him. 

The existence of his marriage with Bertha shows Jane the dangers of giving in to her passions unrestrained, without listening to reason, and she runs from Thornfield and Rochester: 

I was experiencing an ordeal: a hand of fiery iron grasped my vitals. Terrible moment: full of struggle, blackness, burning! Not a human being that ever lived could wish to be loved better than I was loved; and him who thus loved me I absolutely worshipped: and I must renounce love and idol. (Chapter 27, 74%)

Jane’s use of fire and burning to explain her feelings hints at the idea that to give in to passion is to be consumed by it as it burns and destroys everything. Rochester’s secret marriage also highlights the fact that though Rochester had power over Jane in their relationship, Jane was the morally superior one of the two all along. 

Jane and Rochester’s time away from each other allows both of them to no longer be ruled by passion. Instead, they learn to achieve a balanced mix of passion and reason. Jane’s time away allows her to become her own woman, while Rochester gets to repent for his sins. Jane inherits enough money to be truly independent and finds her family in the Rivers, no longer having to rely solely on Rochester to fill that role. In turn, Rochester’s disability requires him to now rely on Jane, which shifts the power in their relationship. When they reunite, Jane is aware they meet as equals, which is what allows their relationship to b...

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