Mr. Edward Rochester
Mr. Rochester is the owner and master at Thornfield Hall, where Jane Eyre resides, for a while, as a governess. They both fall madly in love with each other over the course of her stay. Mr. Rochester is, as described by Jane, a man who is not possessed of particularly good looks: «I traced the general points of middle height, and considerable breadth of chest. Ha had a dark face, with stern features and a heavy brow; his eyes and gathered eyebrows looked ireful and thwarted just now; he was past youth, but had not reached middle age; perhaps he might be thirty-five» (p. 113) and «... 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. His shape, now divested of cloak. I perceived harmonized in awareness with his physiognomy» (p. 120). His appearance is perhaps one of the reasons why he is so fond of Jane, seeing that Jane also is described as an unattractive person. However, her intellectual mind seems to be a more important aspect of his love for her.
Mr. Rochester is indeed as the housekeeper of Thornfield Manor, Mrs. Fairfax, characterizes him: “peculiar”. Jane also describes his manners ”abrupt and changeful”. Both of these descriptions fit him well, considering that he rapidly shifts between the moods of carelessness, interest, playfulness etc. At first he might seem very commanding, and to some extent condescending, towards Jane. However, he excuses this, even though commands would be at its right place, seeing that Jane is his paid governess; and this is what makes him such a special and interesting man. Unlike many people of the elite in society, he tells Jane, his hired governess, that he wants to talk to her as an equal, never mind that he is, in the reality of the Victorian Era, above her. Over time, he, in fact, alters to be very friendly and fond of her, and even admits to appreciate her company the most. He encourages her to talk with him, because he finds her as an equal, not on the social or economic level, but on the intellectual level. In addition, he later invites Jane to join his party, filled with upper-class men and women, which is mighty abnormal for a man of his position. His mood towards Adele is also of oddity, because he admits that he is not very fond of children, and often tells Adele to get away from him, but he nonetheless buys her gifts, hires a governess for her, lets her stay in his home etc. It also appears as if Mr. Rochester’s past haunts his mood and manners. Quite a few times, during one of his monologues or tales, he abruptly stops talking, his mind wanders off and he falls into deep thoughts, which is truly bizarre. This sort of behavior occurs, almost exclusively, during talk of his past, which leads to the assumption that his past is troubling him. Another thing worth mentioning as a peculiarity is his nonsensical talk. Up to three times, he calls Jane a witch or some other fairy creature, who is trying to kill him, but he soon forgets it all, and goes on talking as usual. This could either be playfulness or the talk of a deluded man, but it is nonetheless remarkable.
The reader learns a great deal about Mr. Rochester’s past life. We understand that he has had family troubles. First of all, his elder brother died five years earlier, and Mr. Rochester has only been master at Thornfield for nine years. Another thing of importance to understanding Mr. Rochester is that his father and his brother (who didn’t want to diminish the family fortune by division) made some steps “that were not quite fair, and made a great deal of mischief”(p. 128), and brought him into a painful position – in other for him to make his fortune. These decisions have left Mr. Rochester with the feeling that he has been robbed of happiness, and is most likely also the reason why his mood is often depressed. The other important chapter of Mr. Rochester’s life, that the reader learns to know, is the period of his infatuation with the French opera singer Celine Varnes. He gave her a place to live, servants and other luxuries, but one day, when he went over to surprise her, he heard her and another young man, talking rude of him, behind his back. After this incident, he lost all his love for her, and also put a bullet into the other gentleman’s arm. The lady is Adele’s mother, who also believes Mr. Rochester to be the father. After a couple of years, she ran away to Italy and abandoned Adele. Mr. Rochester then took Adele into his care, and she now lives as his ward at Thornfield Hall.
To begin with, the reader could get a strong impression that Mr. Rochester feels so robbed of happiness and degenerated that his only ambition in life is to live his life in pleasure; have a good time partying etc. However, after awhile, it becomes more evident that he wants to marry a good woman, not for reasons of money and fortune, but of love. He wants a woman who accords with his interests and ideals, and who also has a great personality and accepts his – like Jane Eyre.
All in all, Mr. Rochester is an abnormal, unattractive, yet intellectual, man, who is deeply troubled by his past. One could easily (and most likely not wrongly) be attempted to say that he is the perfect man for Jane Eyre, considering that also she is unattractive, intellectual and has a terrible past. It will be interesting, as my reading continues, to see if either of them acts on their love for one another, and if so; if they actually are perfect for each other.