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Thread: Why does Jane Fall in Love with Rochester

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    Why does Jane Fall in Love with Rochester

    I'm currently read JE in a grad class that's focus is feminism. As we went around are discussion circle, everyone had to point share a thought on the book, and when my turn came around, I voiced some confusion as to why Jane would fall in love with Rochester. My reasons came down to this: Rochester is kind if a jerk, in general and to Jane. He's very condescending to her, at one point saying he wants to claim Jane "as his own." He's deceitful: he dresses up as a gypsy in order to trick Jane into expressing how she feels for him, and then, after he knows how she feels, he continues to dirt with Ms. Ingram in order to make Jane jealous. Aside from this, he does other things that would seem to suggest he's a jerk: he constantly tries to make up Jane into something she isn't with jewelry and expensive dresses, against her protests, and he can be downright cold. He comes around a bit and shows his romantic side, but this is only after he has won Jane's heart; he never acts that way in the process of her falling in love with him.

    As I stated my case in class, from the very start, when I said, "I don't get who Jane falls in love with Rochester," I was met with complete confusion by my (female) professor and some of the other students (four of which are female, and only one other male, who judiciously kept his mouth shut). My professor was ready to pounce right away, asking "How can you think that?" As I explained those points above, she sort of conceded that she could see where I was coming from, as did my fellow students, who were a but more diplomatic by agreeing with me (at least in the sense that they understood my viewpoint) because they could tell I was being grilled by the professor (up to this point in class, this being our fourth meeting, she had never displayed so much emotion). The women of the class seemed to think that Jane falling in love with Rochester was perfectly reasonable, and it was an aspect of the story they obviously enjoyed. The best reasons that they could come up with that Jane fell so in love with Rochester is that she saw him as an intellectual equal, and some sort of "challenge." I didn't buy it then, and I still don't. It seems to me the most likely reason she would fall in love with him is because he was the first man she encountered that showed her even a little bit of affection and respect.

    So, am I totally off-bass here? If so, maybe someone can explain to me better why Jane falls in love with Rochester. I think I caught my class off-guard with this claim--they obviously felt the reasons for Jane falling in love with Rochester were self-evident.

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    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
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    Your not off-base, and I can see an argument made for "he is the first guy she met who was remotely nice to her."

    The problem with the question is it is not meant to be rationalized. The reason your teacher and female classmates found the question so grating is because it takes away from the point of the novel - that is, the Romantic fantasy. In Jane Eyre you are dealing with the realm of sentimentalism (as its meaning suggests) - the piercing of reason and touching the heart. So while Jane may at first be put off by all of Rochester's flaws, him almost dying in a fire completely changes things around, and touches her (and many of the female readers/some male readers) sensibility in a manner that allows her to overlook his fault.

    The theory that he is an intellectual equal is not a bad one either. If you look at "Clarissa" (and much of the relationship in Jane Eyre is taken from "Clarissa") you get a clearer picture of the girl falling in love with the intellectual man who just happens to be an *******.
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    The problem for me is that I was reading the novel through the lens of feminism, so I automatically questioned Jane falling in love with a man who showed many instances of highly sexist behavior.

    Plus . . . I've never been a fan of romance novels, haha. Romantic fantasy just makes me grown. Women usually ear it up, though, even my rough-as-nails feminist professor, evidently.

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    Registered User Calidore's Avatar
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    Well, I'm not anything like an authority on women or how to interest them, nor have I read Jane Eyre (yet), but from what you wrote I can put forth the following:

    Quote Originally Posted by Mutatis-Mutandi View Post
    He's very condescending to her, at one point saying he wants to claim Jane "as his own." He's deceitful: he dresses up as a gypsy in order to trick Jane into expressing how she feels for him, and then, after he knows how she feels, he continues to dirt with Ms. Ingram in order to make Jane jealous. Aside from this, he does other things that would seem to suggest he's a jerk: he constantly tries to make up Jane into something she isn't with jewelry and expensive dresses, against her protests
    Basically, Jane is the focus of all his actions. Even with Ms. Ingram, it's really all about Jane. Annoying/pissing off a girl is a time-honored way of showing you like her, which she (and the female author) would be perfectly aware of.

    Also, some (many?) women like projects. They'd prefer a man's man who needs molding rather than someone who already cooks, cleans, etc. on his own.

    Just my uninformed thoughts.
    "You know, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common: They don't alter their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views." -- Doctor Who

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    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mutatis-Mutandi View Post
    The problem for me is that I was reading the novel through the lens of feminism, so I automatically questioned Jane falling in love with a man who showed many instances of highly sexist behavior.

    Plus . . . I've never been a fan of romance novels, haha. Romantic fantasy just makes me grown. Women usually ear it up, though, even my rough-as-nails feminist professor, evidently.
    I'm not a great fan of "Jane Eyre" either. Of the late 18th century-19th female "greats" (Austen, the three Brontes, George Eliot) I think Charlotte has the least to offer.
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    Registered User mona amon's Avatar
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    The best reasons that they could come up with that Jane fell so in love with Rochester is that she saw him as an intellectual equal, and some sort of "challenge." I didn't buy it then, and I still don't. It seems to me the most likely reason she would fall in love with him is because he was the first man she encountered that showed her even a little bit of affection and respect. - Mutis-Mutandi
    I think they are completely off-base, and you are absolutely right. Jane's eighteen. She's never really seen a man before, apart from the ghastly Brocklehurst. Rochester's rich, atheleticly built, owns a large manor house, and rides around on a black horse, and loves her madly. Naturally she falls for him like a ton of bricks.
    Exit, pursued by a bear.

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    Registered User PoeticPassions's Avatar
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    As a woman, I may add that women tend to fall for the jerks, the a**holes, and those that pose the largest challenge or that pose intellectual, physical, etc stimulation. There is some truth to the phrase that 'nice guys finish last,' so from that perspective I can see why she would fall for Rochester. If he was a pushover and wildly sentimental and professed his love all the time, well then he would be seen as pathetic and uninteresting, I suppose.
    "All gods are homemade, and it is we who pull their strings, and so, give them the power to pull ours." -Aldous Huxley

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    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    haha, offbase for your professor and your female fellow students is still nicely put .

    Time for another knowledgable reply

    I think the assumption that Jane was 18 and had never been in contact with many men, is certainly a very very very valid point. She even says so in the beginning, when she meets Rochester when he falls off his horse. She says (can't remember the quote though) that she has never had much experience, but she also reflects on her tastes (is that foreshadowing?) and that she was never really taken with beauty in itself as a kind of must in a man. But still she thought him handsome... It's peculiar, but why does one think about tastes when one sees a person other than for love purposes? So she is really smitten from the beginning, as is Rochester because he stares at her in the corridor the next morning...

    Second off, 'intellectual equal'? Do they really mean that? Seriously, they do know that women in those days were not educated in maths the same as we are now, don't they? Darcy, I recall, is pretty amazed when Elizabeth (admittedly after a second's pause) declares that half a dozen is six (12 divided by 2 oooooooooo), and Rochester tells Jane, the governess for his daughter, that 'you see, arithmetic is useful'. Ladies like Ingram, and by extension governesses, were taught basic stuff, no hard stuff. I guess if they could do plus and minus and divide and multiply, know a little bit about the geography of England and a little Italian and French (to sing songs) that it was alright. Men were taught by tutors from the age of about 7-8 (I guess) to leanr Latin, do sums, do geometry, etc. Everything we see now as a basic education and to prepare them for uni and managing their estate. Jane can't have done much more than sums a little and little geography and French because she didn't need it. So, Jane his intellectual equal, that's a gross historic misconception. Even Queen Victoria wasn't all that well educated and she was the queen!
    Equal on a philosophical level maybe, but I think she could learn a lot from him.

    As a woman, I think the real charm of Rochester is confusing, and Brontë made use of the confusion. Actually, I am quite confident that if you put Rochester in a room with women now and made him do his thing for months or even years on end, that most women would call it a day after some time. Why? Because he is not trustworthy. He is controlling, he is forceful, he is deceiving. In short, he is the kind of man who would end up beating up his wife. Even if you leave Bertha out of the equasion, and look at the whole thing with Ingram, what jerk indeed would you need to be to do that kind of thing? Even make Jane cry on the stairs and not even have the decency to let her go off and cry in her room, but almost forcing her to do it in front of you! He shifts from the poor sad little sod into forceful testosterone protector (which is what women like). But he overdoes the last sometimes. Claiming Jane as his own does not come into this, though, as that was a normal thing to say, or at least 'will you be my own' was. Men practically owned women when they married them in those days, so that particular thing does not really strike me as creepy.

    However, I think his charm lies in the deceit Brontë puts into the female brain. They always say when a woman has given birth that the whole stage before which took hours and hours of pain and suffering disappears in a second with the baby itself. Making way for more of course (nature's clever way of ensuring procreation - if there was too much memory of the pain, no-one would ever get more than one, right?). So after his great secret and his true self have been revealed, Rochester's demise, Jane runs away and the story gets into a calmer stream, but then suddenly, she hears him in anguish and decides she has to know. And then she discovers this blind and crippled man who is quite destitute (boohoo), still forceful in some instances, but his control has stopped and he has really become a kind of ncie version of himself (he has shed his controlling side which was the most scary). Is he then still so bad? Nah. He can't control her anyway, because he wouldn't bloody see where she was going . That is protrayed well in the 2006 (?) adaptation where he asks her 'are you still there' and she doesn't answer and he sits there on his blanket, frustrated . By painting that picture at the end of him staring into the fire with his head on the mantlepiece (the glow of the fire is only thing he can still see), his dog Pilot lying out of the way for fear he would be trodden on, Rochester's hair in a mess and his little wonder out of the door just before in the rain, Brontë erases the bad impression you had of him upon his demise (because seriously, trying to cheat someone into marrying...) (read: the pain and suffering of childbirth) and sticks another much more favourable and cute image on that (read: the baby). What does a woman in her romantic mind love more than a helpless man she can mother? I am sure Brontë loved it herself too because her ideas about love and marriage were very naïve compared to what she wrote about it when it actually happened to her.

    In short, anyone arguing for Rochester being so wonderful from the beginning is claiming that childbirth was a breeze . He is a great character though, but dangerous. It is only after that, that he becomes a man we would all cuddle to death really, but that has nothing to do with Rochester I (as I call him). If your professor and female fellow students would fall for such a man they all have very low self-confidence, are very weak-willed, insecure and have all the characteristics allowing controlling men to control them. They should do something about that. But it's probably because they confuse realism with fantasy.
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    Word Dispenser BookBeauty's Avatar
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    Actually, she didn't find him handsome.

    When asked by him whether she thought he was handsome, she responded rather bluntly, and honestly, that she didn't. Maybe she only said so because it was an impulsive, ''Uh, no! Er.. Wait, actually, yes,'' .. But I think she was actually seriously being sincere. Which is okay, because she was no prized peach herself.

    The other ladies found him ugly as well, but they were attracted to him because of his money and lied about it. And possibly his charm and singing voice.

    It's generally the flaws that make a character likeable, especially in the case of Rochester. As sarcastic and teasing as he is, we know that he acts this way partly because of deep-seated emotional issues, as well as having many experiences that embittered him. Mostly, dealing with an insane wife regularly out of a sense of duty as her husband.

    He struggles with the morality of even choosing to marry Jane, because of that sense of duty, which likely also colours his attitudes and moods. Eyre doesn't even understand why he has these moods, and acts this way, so affectionate one minute, and then a completely miserable cod-fish the next. It's because she isn't aware of the underlying situation, and she doesn't even find out through him.

    We see him transformed after the burns upon his countenance, which uglify him further, but prettify his personality, helping to soften him up along with the reunion with Jane.
    Last edited by BookBeauty; 02-13-2012 at 08:00 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiki1982 View Post
    [/I]
    In short, anyone arguing for Rochester being so wonderful from the beginning is claiming that childbirth was a breeze . He is a great character though, but dangerous. It is only after that, that he becomes a man we would all cuddle to death really, but that has nothing to do with Rochester I (as I call him). If your professor and female fellow students would fall for such a man they all have very low self-confidence, are very weak-willed, insecure and have all the characteristics allowing controlling men to control them. They should do something about that. But it's probably because they confuse realism with fantasy.
    The discussion was pretty lengthy, so it's not like I covered everything we discussed. No one in the class thinks Rochester to be flawless, and just because they see how Jane could fall for Rochester doesn't mean they would . . . that's just not really logical.

    As to Jane being his intellectual equal, it's not so much about how many facts she knows, but about her ability to actually stand toe-to-toe with him and stand up for herself. Plus, Jane shows herself to be pretty intelligent despite her education.

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    Registered User Darcy88's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PoeticPassions View Post
    As a woman, I may add that women tend to fall for the jerks, the a**holes, and those that pose the largest challenge or that pose intellectual, physical, etc stimulation. There is some truth to the phrase that 'nice guys finish last,' so from that perspective I can see why she would fall for Rochester. If he was a pushover and wildly sentimental and professed his love all the time, well then he would be seen as pathetic and uninteresting, I suppose.
    Well its nice to see a woman finally admit it. lol.

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    somewhere else Helga's Avatar
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    Young girls are told that when a boy teases them he really has a crush on them, when people say that to you when your a kid it's not odd many girls go for the jerks cause they MUST be crazy about them.

    That may not be the point in Jane Eyre though, but what I liked about him was all the mystery. He a dark mysterious man and that is intriguing to a young innocent gal. On the other hand I do tend to agree with you and I did wonder when I read it years ago but I never really saw it as a romance novel but the story of a girl.

    Another note about him, I am reading 'Wide Sargasso Sea' about him and his first wife, the crazy Creole woman
    Last edited by Helga; 02-13-2012 at 01:10 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darcy88 View Post
    Well its nice to see a woman finally admit it. lol.
    Yes we fall for bad boys, the difference is that many of us don't marry them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mona amon View Post
    I think they are completely off-base, and you are absolutely right. Jane's eighteen. She's never really seen a man before, apart from the ghastly Brocklehurst. Rochester's rich, atheleticly built, owns a large manor house, and rides around on a black horse, and loves her madly. Naturally she falls for him like a ton of bricks.
    I also think this is a good point. BUT, Jane did meet a handsome man who asked her to marry HIM. Instead she wants Rochester-he loved her, the cousin did not, and did not accept her for herself. Rochester did. Two things come to mind;
    With Rochester, Jane could be totally herself. Yes he could be a jerk, but we need to put ourselves in that time period. Jane and Rochester had lengthy intelligent discussions. He loved the fact that she stood up for herself, and did so quite well, for a woman of her time. That's why he challenged her to do so, in his jerk way. She knew and accepted him for what he was. I loved this book-it was so ahead of it's time. After she met her cousins and refused to marry what's his name (I forgot, I'm over 50), she longed for Rochester because she knew he loved her, and she him. And, by the time they got married, he had mellowed due to his injury. He was an odd guy, she was no beauty, she didn't have much to compare him too, and in the context of the time period it makes perfect sense.

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    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mutatis-Mutandi View Post
    The discussion was pretty lengthy, so it's not like I covered everything we discussed. No one in the class thinks Rochester to be flawless, and just because they see how Jane could fall for Rochester doesn't mean they would . . . that's just not really logical.

    As to Jane being his intellectual equal, it's not so much about how many facts she knows, but about her ability to actually stand toe-to-toe with him and stand up for herself. Plus, Jane shows herself to be pretty intelligent despite her education.
    Oh, no, they would not think he was flawless, but if you were to probe you would probably find that they underdo his despicable behaviour beforehand quite considerably.

    Standing up for herself... It's been beaten to death, but actually she follows the road God shows her, she trusts Him that He will lead her somewhere where she will be safe, despite being on the moors without food or drink or a bed to sleep. And behold He does, but she does not stand up for herself as modern women would see it.
    However, when she declares herself equal, she also says he has treated her as such (if my memory serves me right). Indeed, he started talking to her from the first as if she were his companion, not his servant. She never decided she was equal, not least because of Brocklehurst and her family. How could a girl who was told she was nothing, not even worth keeping over the holidays ever think she was equal to a man like Rochester? She is intelligent, maybe, but she never wanted to talk to her 'master' as if she were his friend, yet he does, takes her hand, makes jokes, and starts the whole thing off with 'do you think me handsome, Miss Eyre?' What kind of way is that to treat a servant? She finds comfort in the way he talks to her because she has never been favoured by a man and falls into his net, despite Mrs Fairfax's premonissions (or so the latter declares when Rochester comes to tell her the great news). And she is kind of confused about their 'relationship' as it were when Ingram comes on the scene as she reflects that she thought there might have been some preference, but no, apparently not. If he hadn't prompted her to it, she would never have got it into her head.
    When she mentions 'equal at God's feet as we are', she really says no more than what it says in Christianity... At the Terrible Day of Judgement (as Rochester calls it) they will both answer for their sins, whether they are man of woman. To God, they are people and they are both weak.

    About handsome or not handsome. At the point he aks her she says 'no' so bluntly because he is her boss. She is not supposed to find her boss handsome, nor is she supposed to think of her boss as a person (apart from how to serve him). So it is a hugely inappropriate question from his side to which she can only give an inappropriate answer (it addresses his looks after all, which are very important to him, hence the penknife). I personally don't think she even thought about it and just blurted out 'no' because she didn't want to seem a teenage girl staring at the first man she could see from close up.
    Apparently my imagination ran away with me as I mentioned the horse scene but there she compares him to a kind of handsome knight in shining armour and that he is not, but later, when she returns from her dead aunt, 'It would be past the power of magic, sir;” and, in thought, I added, “A loving eye is all the charm needed: to such you are handsome enough; or rather your sternness has a power beyond beauty."' As she finds that beauty in itself is worth nothing, but that it is the inside that matters he is indeed (basically) a charming man, but with a problem.
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