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Jane Eyre and Rochester

Quick Facts

Him: Edward Rochester, master of Thornfield Hall and Jane’s employer

Her: Jane Eyre, governess of Thornfield Hall

Setting: England, early 19th century
 

 

Background

Jane Eyre, in the novel named after her, grows from a child to adulthood while moving from place to place. When she accepts a job as governess of Thornfield Hall, she finds herself drawn to the mysterious, aloof owner, Edward Rochester. Though both seem to take to each other right away, the plot twists several times before they are finally allowed together.


Story

Jane Eyre is a strong-willed young woman, having survived an abusive home in her youth and graduated from Lowood Institute for orphans (and taught there), she takes a job as a governess and French tutor to a young girl at Thornfield Hall. Believing she is coming to work for a woman by the name of Fairfax, she is quickly entranced by the man of the house, Edward Rochester.

Rochester is different than most other men of the Victorian Age, he seems rough around the edges instead of polished to a high shine. He’s somewhat moody and quite sharp with his conversation – he wants nothing of the flattery associated with society of the time. Love blossoms between the two of them, particularly when she rescues him from a fire in his bed chambers. They have deep conversations and, despite his attempts to raise jealousy in her with other potential mates, agree to be married.

Unfortunately, things aren’t that simple – Rochester still has a previous wife with whom to settle. Devastated, Jane leaves without any particular plan. Broke and hungry, she lands with another family and takes on a different name to avoid being found. Soon enough, though, she receives word her uncle has left her a large fortune – one she shares with her housemates, who she comes to realize are her cousins.

Despite this, she still has feelings for Rochester and, upon hearing him calling out for her, returns to Thornfield Hall to see him. The house, however, has been burned down and Rochester injured. He’s lost an eye and hand, and suffers from blindness. Jane offers to care for him – he had fired all the help when he was unable to find her – and he proposes marriage to her again. This time, though, everything goes right.


Reputation

For many, the story of Jane Eyre and Rochester is a testament to a love that lasts. At the time, it was published under a pseudonym because most readers couldn’t believe a woman would be able to create such a masterful work of fiction. Charlotte Bronte, the author, did that and more: she fashioned one of the best-loved romances in all of history.

Critical interpretations of this famous work are built around the feminist characteristics of Jane Eyre. Unlike many characters of her time, she goes out and finds a job, works diligently outside the home and waits until the end of her life to be married. Her devotion to Rochester is not impinged by her desire to be her own woman, which makes it all the more remarkable considering the period from which it arose.



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