People talk of natural sympathies Essay
People talk of natural sympathies
A running theme from Charlotte Bronte throughout her novel, Jane Eyre is the idea, I have previously used that ‘conventionality is not morality’. This idea is continued throughout the novel. It would be thought, in the Victorian era far more conventional for Jane and Rochester to just be Governess and Master; however Jane, throughout the novel, rejects the norm for what she believes to be morally correct, and this is why she could ‘never unlove him;’ she believes, despite what society thinks, something that her late friend Helen Burns taught her, that they are in fact a good match.
From their first meeting it would be easy to say that Jane and Rochester aren’t well matched and there are various reasons for this is. The moment that Rochester appears into Jane’s life the weather is ‘cold’ and the wind had ‘froze keenly’ highlighting the Gothic nature of Rochester and the fact that it would be seem completely unconventional for Jane to ever love this man. The atmosphere of the lane reflects Rochester. There is a mystery and suspense that Jane creates due to her love and certainty of the supernatural world, such as stating that the object that is moving towards her has no name, she says ‘it approached’.
The fact that she refuses to believe that this object could be a person shows her willingness for a supernatural incident. As we can see from her assumption that Rochester’s dog is the ‘Gytrash’, her imagination is full of fiends, and the fact that she is sensitive to omens becomes important later in the novel. Jane’s imagination works overtime in this scene and she starts becoming very stereotypical of women in this Victorian Ear, irrational. Bronte builds the tension for the reader by leading us to believe that Jane’s ‘fancies’ are ‘bright and dark’.
At the beginning of this scene Jane is sitting on a style, which indicates that she is in liminal, in between two worlds. You could say she is in liminal about whether she can love this man. Rochester appears onto the scene fast and subsequently falls off his horse which could suggest Jane falls off her fence, as the barrier between this man is broken due to his pathetic fall of his steed. A man should not fall from his horse therefore Bronte is showing us that both characters here are unconventional and therefore in this opening scene between them we can assume that, yes they are well matched.
Rochester’s character presents a cold exterior with the ‘roughness of the traveller’. His arrival is somewhat of an anti-climax, there is no warmth brought by him and no thanks to Jane for her concentration throughout the scene. The hint of his Byronic characteristics creates a certain appeal for Jane. She is reflecting on the man she has just seen, she describes him as ‘masculine, dark, strong, stern’. This is, I think we have to remember the first time Jane has interacted by herself with a man older than herself. He is broody and moody, Jane finds an allure to this nature about Rochester.
Although Jane hasn’t made her mind up whether she likes him or not yet, it is ironic to remember that Jane is writing from the position that she is presently married to him, though she tries to convey her meeting with him as well as she can. On that note, it is worth mentioning that Jane does end up marrying Rochester, therefore with the images Bronte is feeding us, they must be ‘well-matched’. The scene in which Jane and Rochester meet for the first time is dramatic and its outcome, when he finds that ‘necessity compels me to make you useful’, foreshadows his ultimate dependence on her later in the book.
Again, it is significant that they meet over ice, and that later she finds the fires lit at Thornfield where the grates had stood empty. Indeed, until Rochester comes, to return to the house is ‘to return to stagnation’. Jane does not want the trappings of conventional femininity, as she says herself, she is ‘becoming incapable of appreciating’ the ‘very privileges of security and ease’ her job at Thornfield will be given to her. Under his power she will begin to melt and unlearn much of her Lowood reserve, while for her he will renounce his wandering ways.
In the second meeting Jane’s ideas about Rochester are reinforced, as she and we see him in more detail. His physical appearance is very attractive to Jane such as his ‘jetty eyebrows…sweep (hair flows back) of black hair…decisive nose….. ,grim mouth’. Although she find these attractive, is it for the right reasons. These are all very strong mysterious features. Is it the attractiveness of Mr Rochester or the feeling of danger that lures Jane.
Though, Jane believes that Rochester’s ‘superiority depends on the use [he has] made of his time and experience. ’ Not just a financial difference. Jane believes that she has achieved more than him albeit with less money. So although there may be ‘twenty years difference in age’ and a huge contrast in their experiences, Jane claims that all of this is irrelevant whether they are socially equal does not matter. What is important for Jane, however, is that they are well-matched in character and personality.
Despite this, it is interesting how Bronte allows the reader to explore the complicated and liminal social position of a governess who is not expected to ask questions let alone be on equal status of masters, like Rochester. Not for the first time in this bildungsroman Jane becomes a character of ambiguous class standing, much like Mary Wolfstencraft wanted, but although Jane may not be Rochester’s social equal she is certainly his intellectual equal. Mr Rochester is a Romantic, almost Byronic, figure that is shown to be forceful and independent; in this respect he is in part Jane’s alter ego.
A Byronic hero is so called after the poet Lord Byron, and this term is especially apt as it refers to a charismatic yet brooding and misanthropic character. Jane and Rochester’s convincing witty banter brings both character’s alive, with fire. She may have feminine accomplishments, but she is as unconventional and strong-minded as he is and can always match his blow for blow in any conversation, Rochester often refers to Jane as a fairy, a sprite and an imp, ‘when you came on me in Hay Lane last night, I thought unaccountably of fairy tales’.
This is not per chance, Bronte has deliberately created this line for Rochester to show the reader that even in, a subconscious level they are thinking alike, they are ‘well-matched’ Rochester has wealth, a high social class, far more age and experience and is male, however he is determined to ignore all of these superiorities and take notice only of Jane’s inner-spirit and personality. This shows the extent of Rochester’s unconventionality, and this irregularity of character is what really allows their relationship to develop.
Jane and the Witch’s conversation begins in a way that mirrors a conversation that she had with Mr Brocklehurst. ‘You’ve a quick ear’ ‘I have; a quick eye and a quick brain’. The conversation between the Fortune Teller (Rochester) and Jane becomes more intimate who stirs the fire to light her up, though she complains that the fire ‘scorches me’. This shows that although not perfect, as a couple they are fairly well matched.
This also further suggests Rochester kindles passion in Jane. His reading of nature, of the way ‘passion may rage furiously…but judgement shall have the last word in every argument’ tells us that he is a close observer of Jane and captures every essences of her character. Later, when she leaves she is angry, at the way her story has been stolen from her by the Witch, though she now knows is Rochester. But, this is their most intimate encounter between them to date.
Although it would be easy to say that Jane and Rochester are not ‘well matched’ due to, primarily, complications that their difference in social class produce, Rochester is very quick to remove these layers of unnecessary complications, as well as letting Jane ‘learn to be more natural’. By removing these obstacles, the reader begins to see how ‘well matched’ they are; they both have the similar moral values, and ‘are intellectual equals’ with Jane matching Rochester in any argument, which is what Blanche Ingram, with all her ‘beauty and accomplishments’ lacks.
A sense of originality, which Jane possesses. Conventionality would have forbidden their relationship and it would have never become anything more that strictly professional, but as it is both are extremely unconventional they were, therefore wiling to break the stereotype in that era of having a marriage for financial resources, and it is therefore fair to say that they are, in fact, ‘well-matched’.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 5 July 2017
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