“The humblest individual exerts some influence, either for good or evil, upon others” said Henry Ward Beecher. Everyone has some type of influence on another, whether it is big or small, good or bad. For example, outside influences, such as other characters, can affect a characters actions and thoughts in either a positive or negative way. In the novel Jane Eyre written by Charlotte Bronte, many characters influenced Jane, but Mr. Rochester and St. John Rivers had the most influence on her personality. Although the two men were very different from one another, they both had an impact on Jane’s transformation into a strong and independent women thought their actions, love, and influence.
Mr. Rochester differs greatly with St. John though their outlook on religious and moral beliefs. “I advise you to live sinless; and I wish you to die tranquil.” (p.398) Mr. Rochester is portrayed as a sinner because he did not inform Jane that he was still married to Bertha Mason. His desire to keep Jane at Thornfield as his mistress displayed his lack of morality. While Mr. Rochester is passionate and desperate, St. John is cold and determined. St. John’s somber personality is made clear when he said, “I want a wife: the sole helpmeet I can influence efficiently in life and retain absolutely till death. (p.506) St. John, unlike Mr. Rochester, followed religious principles and moral values. These two men are both the most influential males in her life, but they are both so different from one another.
Although Mr. Rochester and St. John had very different beliefs, they both brought out changes in Jane’s character. If Jane were to accept Rochester’s first proposal, she would had sacrificed her dignity for love. “I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.” (p.398) Jane does not accept his proposal in marriage in order to preserve her self-esteem. This struggle with Rochester farther developed her morality and self-worth. In refusing his marriage proposal because he has a wife, she became morally superior to him. Jane was able to keep her moral value through sacrificing her feelings for what was right.
St. John longed to marry Jane and invited her to accompany him on his missionary trip to India. He says, “God and nature intended you for a missionary’s wife. It is not personal, but mental endowments they have given you: you are formed for labor, not for love.” (p.502) St. John thought Jane would make a great missionary’s wife because of her morals. Jane replies saying, “ Oh! I will give my heart to God, you do not want it.” (p.507) As the quote shows, if Jane was to accept St. John’s proposal, she knew she would be settling on someone that did not truly love her, nor did she truly love in return. Though this experience Jane realizes love can on be found in a relationship with mutual feelings. Therefore Jane denies St. Johns love for her and his marriage proposal.
Through Jane’s obstacles throughout the novel, she overcame her weaknesses. The influences from both Mr. Rochester and St. John shaped her character, strengthened her moral principles, and taught her to make the right choices. With each situation Jane made the right decisions. The two men, although completely diverse from one another, they both played a vital role in Jane’s growth as a character.