Jane Eyre

by: Charlotte Brontë

Edward Rochester

His figure was enveloped in a riding-cloak…but I traced the general points of middle height, and considerable breadth of chest. He had a dark face, with stern features and a heavy brow…He was past youth, but had not reached middle age; perhaps he might be thirty-five. I felt no fear of him…Had he been a handsome, heroic-looking young gentleman, I should not have dared to stand thus questioning him against his will, and offering my services unasked

Jane reminisces on unknowingly meeting Mr. Rochester for the first time. When walking to deliver mail, she passes Mr. Rochester and witnesses him fall from his horse. Jane recalls not only Mr. Rochester’s strong physical features, but also her first impression of his personality. Right away, she identifies how comfortable and confident she feels in his presence.

I knew my traveler, with his broad and jetty eyebrows, his square forehead, made squarer by the horizontal sweep of his black hair. I recognized his decisive nose, more remarkable for character than beauty, his full nostrils, denoting, I thought, choler; his grim mouth, chin, and jaw—yes, all three were very grim, and no mistake…I suppose it was a good figure in the athletic sense of the term, broad-chested and thin-flanked, though neither tall nor graceful.

Jane meets Mr. Rochester a second time, recognizing that he was the traveler she met on the road the night before. In this description, she compares and adds to her previous observations of Mr. Rochester’s physical features. Through these descriptions, Jane also gives a glimpse of how his physical features parallel his character, such as by describing his “decisive nose” and “grim mouth.”

Yet I had not forgotten his faults…He was proud, sardonic, harsh to inferiority of every description…He was moody, too…But I believe that his moodiness, his harshness, and his former faults of morality…had their source in some cruel cross of fate. I believed he was naturally a man of better tendencies…I thought there were excellent materials in him, though, for the present, they hung together somewhat spoiled and tangled.

In this quote, Jane describes her feelings for Mr. Rochester after he reveals details about his past. Despite his troubles and many faults, Jane admits that she cares for and accepts him. Jane’s observations convey details of Mr. Rochester’s personality, including his faults, moodiness, and harshness. Jane’s reflections also reveal something of her character—despite Mr. Rochester’s mistakes and imperfections, Jane chooses to focus on the good in him.

I knew there would be pleasure in meeting my master again, even though broken by the fear that he was so soon to cease to be my master, and by the knowledge that I was nothing to him; but there was ever in Mr. Rochester (so, at least, I thought) such a wealth of the power of communicating happiness…His last words were balm. They seemed to imply that it imported something to him whether I forget him or not. And he had spoken of Thornfield as my home—would that it were my home!

Jane describes how joyful she feels to see Mr. Rochester upon returning from her visit to Gateshead Hall, even though she has heard rumors of his possible marriage arrangement. Jane’s thoughts speak to Mr. Rochester’s effect on her. He has a way of making her happy, so she is content with whatever time she has with him. By referring to Thornfield as Jane’s home, Mr. Rochester reveals his genuine desire that Jane should stay.

“It will atone—it will atone. Have I not found her friendless, and cold, and comfortless?…Is there not love in my heart, and constancy in my resolves? It will expiate at God’s tribunal. I know my Maker sanctions what I do. For the world’s judgment—I wash my hands thereof. For man’s opinion—I defy it.”

After revealing to Jane that he loves and wants to marry her, Mr. Rochester declares how his love will make up for going against society and God to be with Jane. Mr. Rochester’s words reveal his strong and defiant character as well as his genuine love for Jane. His references to atonement, expiation, and God’s tribunal hint at a crime, and Mr. Rochester’s choice of words foreshadows his dark secret.

“To women who please me only by their faces, I am the very devil when I find out they have neither souls nor hearts…but to the clear eye and eloquent tongue, to the soul made of fire, and the character that bends but does not break—at once supple and stable, tractable and consistent—I am every tender and true.”

After Jane admits her concern that Mr. Rochester’s love for her will not last, Mr. Rochester shares what he truly admires in a woman. His interest in women who challenge him and show strength over women who are only focused on appearances and lack character contrasts with the gender norms of the time. In revealing that it is Jane’s fiery, strong character that he loves, Mr. Rochester reveals and defines his own character.

To tell me that I had already a wife is empty mockery; you know now that I had but a hideous demon. I was wrong to attempt to deceive you; but I feared a stubbornness that exists in your character…This was cowardly; I should have appealed to your nobleness and magnanimity at first…shown to you, not my resolution (that word is weak), but my resistless bent to love faithfully and well, where I am faithfully and well loved in return.

In Chapter 27, Mr. Rochester attempts to explain to Jane why he deceived her by not telling her about his first wife. Not only does he explain the circumstances, but he admits his faults. By acknowledging that he was cowardly and should have trusted her with the truth, he reveals a genuine, yet flawed, character. His admission also sheds light on the strength of his love for Jane: He is willing to be vulnerable with her.

His form was of the same strong and stalwart contour as ever. His port was still erect, his hair was still raven black; nor were his features altered or sunk…But in his countenance I saw a change. That looked desperate and brooding—that reminded me of some wronged and fettered wild beast or bird, dangerous to approach in his sullen woe.

After a long separation and several significant changes in her life, Jane finds Mr. Rochester again. Jane describes how Mr. Rochester’s physical image is unchanged, but his expression looks desperate and dark. Jane continues to describe this changed Mr. Rochester as having an angry sadness. Through this description, Jane establishes that the past year’s events have negatively affected Mr. Rochester’s emotional well-being. Her observations reveal her deep concern for and strong connection to Mr. Rochester.

“Jane! you think me, I dare say, an irreligious dog; but my heart swells with gratitude to the beneficent God of this earth just now. He sees not as man sees, but far clearer; judges not as man judges, but far more wisely. I did you wrong…Divine justice pursued its course; disasters came thick upon me…Of late, Jane—only of late—I began to see and acknowledge the hand of God in my doom. I began to experience remorse, repentance; the wish for reconcilement to my Maker.”

In Chapter 37, Mr. Rochester describes to Jane how his view on religion and faith has changed. He explains that during the past year, he believes he faced disasters as justice for the wrongs he committed against Jane. He believes that God challenged him so he would feel remorse and pray, which he did. Mr. Rochester equally believes that God is rewarding him with Jane’s return. Mr. Rochester’s faith was renewed through the challenges of their separation.

We talk, I believe, all day long…All my confidence is bestowed on him; all his confidence is devoted to me…Mr. Rochester continued blind the first two years of our union; perhaps it was that circumstance that drew us so very near—that knit us so very close; for I was then his vision, as I am still his right hand…he claimed these services without painful shame or damping humiliation. He loved me so truly, that he knew no reluctance in profiting by my attendance; he felt I loved him so fondly, that to yield that attendance was to indulge my sweetest wishes.

Jane is describing how Mr. Rochester demonstrates his humility and love in their life together. Her mention that they simply enjoy talking together demonstrates their love transcends physical and emotional infatuation. Mr. Rochester and Jane are completely content and devoted to one another. Jane explains how Mr. Rochester is able to accept help, even if it challenges him, because he recognizes that it makes Jane happy.