Jane Eyre

by: Charlotte Brontë

Why does Jane marry Rochester?

Main ideas Why does Jane marry Rochester?

Jane marries Rochester because she views him as her emotional home. From the start of the novel, Jane struggles to find people she can connect with emotionally. Although she nominally has a home at Gateshead, she describes herself as being a “discord” there, temperamentally alienated from the Reeds. From the moment she meets Rochester, however, Jane feels a connection. On the night Jane and Rochester meet, Jane wonders if he might be a Gytrash, a spirit of English folklore, and Rochester calls Jane a fairy. These Romantic imaginings highlight that their minds take similar fanciful turns. Rochester furthermore admires the dark, passionate spirit that so alienated Jane throughout her childhood, appreciating her watercolors of supernatural subjects and admiring her outspokenness. In Chapter 22, Jane observes that she views Rochester as her home, emphasizing this kinship she feels with him. With Rochester no longer married, Jane is free to come home.

Another possible reason for their marriage is that Jane’s newfound independence and maturity allow her to follow her heart on her own terms. Jane initially leaves Thornfield not because she is angry with Rochester, but because she fears becoming a slave to her passion by staying with him and becoming his mistress. By leaving Rochester, she proves to herself that she can live without him and find ownership of herself. Her rejection of St. John also demonstrates her valuing of herself in that she understands herself to be a naturally passionate person who could not live in a loveless marriage. Jane’s return to Rochester – under her own terms of it being legal for them to marry – therefore marks Jane’s ownership of her desires. In addition, while living with the Reeds, Jane receives her inheritance, purchases property, and embraces Diana and Mary as her cousins. This windfall grants Jane the financial and familial security she didn’t possess when she first came to Thornfield Hall, leading her to depend on Rochester. Symbolically, Rochester’s blindness means that he must depend on Jane now, shifting the power balance in their relationship.

Finally, the reader can interpret Jane and Rochester’s marriage as a sign of Rochester’s redemption. In Chapter 14, when Rochester alludes to his marriage with Bertha and his remorse for his mistake, Jane encourages him toward repentance as the cure. When she later leaves Rochester after discovering the truth about Bertha, Jane emphasizes that she is not leaving him to wretchedness, but rather that she hopes he trusts in God and lives blamelessly. Through this lens of religion, we can read the burning of Thornfield Hall as comeuppance for Rochester’s sins, and his attempt to rescue Bertha as finally admitting to and taking responsibility for his mistakes. The fire evokes hell and punishment, but Rochester’s survival suggests rebirth and reformation. Furthermore, his new handicaps and loss of Thornfield serve as physical manifestations of his penance. The partial return of Rochester’s sight upon the birth of his and Jane’s son supports this reading, suggesting that Jane’s love has been healing for him. Rochester had been callous and selfish, blind to the effects of his actions, but with Jane’s love he begins to see a better way of life. Rochester has made himself worthy of Jane.