Edward Rochester does not resemble a hero portrayed in fairy tales, characters who remain static throughout the plot. He is rather a dynamic and round character that changes notably. He has values that are far from freedom, respect, and integrity. In his behaviours to Jane, one can notice dramatic changes.
First of all, his being passionate, guided by his senses rather than his rational mind, drags him to marry an insane woman. The situation of being married to a mad woman, and further being lied to by his own family for money matters, makes him an outcast despite of his high social status. He feels trapped and all the lies Rochester believes soon form a sense of distrust, and cause him grow more and more distant from society.
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Secondly, Rochester is a cynical rebel who refuses to accept and yield to the orders of society. It is only when he meets Jane, a woman who is intellectually equal to him and morally superior than him and who understands his true nature, that his sensitivity is revealed. He completely fails to notice his social rank and ignores other’s opinions, and clearly falls in love with Jane. Rather than holding appropriate class boundaries, Rochester makes her feel “as if he were my relation rather than my master.” (242) He loves Jane in a physically plain but in a mentally deep way which shows that he is not shallow. However, his unfortunate marriage to Bertha Mason becomes an obstacle to his union with Jane.This time Rochester,Â purposely outcasts himself from his former enchained life with Bertha in search for a real chance for true love.
A great deal is written and discussed about Rochester’s marriage and character which comes along with a lot of questions. Even though Rochester didn’t know his wife was insane, can he be blamed for the marriage to a woman he hardly knew? Under English law at the time, a man whose wife became insane could not get a divorce. But is Mr. Rochester’s way to deal with this problem by hiding his mad wife away the right thing to do? And does the fact that he thinks he deserves happiness give him the right to deceive the woman he loves?
It is true that he is madly in love with Jane, yet the fact remains that his approach to win and secure her as a wife was wrong for Mr. Rochester was very inconsiderate of the reality. He did not care about what kind of a position it would put the others when he got what he wished, marrying Jane. Rochester was determined to marry her and he did not think about the immorality of the marriage considering he was already married to Bertha Manson even though one can guess it would be devastating for Jane. However Jane brings out the best in him especially as the story advances toward the end, their differences causes the enlightenment. Bronte uses Jane as a light to shed on Rochester’s character. In the end he becomes a new man, his dark secrets and qualities ceases to be a part of his life.
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As I mentioned in the beginning, the basis of Rochester’s flawed life was his dark secrets, and past along with a scandal or sin. And all these become forgivable only when the actual circumstance is revealed and when all the hidden facts are lightened. He is the first person in the novel to offer Jane lasting love and a real home. Although Rochester is Jane’s social and economic superior, and although men were widely considered to be naturally superior to women in the Victorian period, Jane is Rochester’s intellectual equal. Moreover, Jane proves to be his moral superior after the fact that Rochester’s marriage to Bertha is revealed. Prior to meeting Jane his character was wild and impulsive. Jane helped him heal his wounds and confront with himself. Keeping secrets about himself and his past could do nothing good for him but only promoted dishonesty and destroyed his relationship with Jane. And only when he could break the chains from his past could he be free and become a new man. Towards the end of the novel, Rochester grows and develops from his suffering allowing the two characters to move on and find happiness together. He finally pays for his sins, he becomes a suitably gentle husband for Jane, who morally guides and corrects him at novel’s end.
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