Jane Eyre: Rochester as a Byronic Hero
Charlotte Bronte’s character Mr. Rochester is plainly an unusual love interest for a romantic novel. He has an abrupt, selfish and big-headed nature, and is far from handsome. Mr. Rochester is stern, impolite, and demanding and has a dark and somewhat mystical character. Nevertheless, with the gothic environment of Jane Eyre, it appears practically matching for the hero to embody many such qualities of a Byronic hero One of the most popular literary character types of the Romantic duration, the Byronic hero is not traditionally “heroic” and his dark qualities tend to reject the image of a “traditional” hero.
We see the impact Byron’s poetry had on Bronte’s writing; when in Jane Eyre, Bronte makes a recommendation to one of his works, The Corsair, “Here then is a Corsair-song. Know that I dote on Corsairs; and for that reason, sing it ‘con spirito'” (ch. 17). In Chapter 11 of Jane Eyre, Jane asks of Mrs. Fairfax, “What, in short, is his [Mr. Rochester’s] character?” To this Mrs. Fairfax responds, “He is rather peculiar, maybe: he has actually travelled a good deal, and seen a good deal of the world, I should think. I dare say he is creative”. This account of Mr. Rochester by Mrs.
Fairfax establishes him as a sort of wanderer. Her description agrees with the characteristics normally related to a Byronic hero. The Byronic hero tends to be unsociable and isolated from the society, either willingly or due to impositions positioned by some other influence. He is normally well travelled, and has frequently come into dispute throughout his journeys. This is found to be true for Rochester’s journey to Jamaica and the effects that came of his conference Bertha Mason there. An example of the Byronic hero, Rochester is a passionate guy, directed more by emotions than by reason.
For example, when he initially met Bertha Mason, his instant tourist attraction to her extravagant qualities resulted in their tragic marital relationship. In the same way, he permits himself to be lead by his desire for Celine Varens, regardless of its immorality. Rochester’s tendencies to decline the values and values of society lead him to despise himself as well as his way of life. As an outcome, he ends up being bitter and detached. Frequently the Byronic hero is defined by a guilty memory of wandering off sexually in the past.
Rochester has a long lasting suggestion of his life of indulgence as Adele is the child of a French opera-dancer, Celine Varens, towards whom he had as soon as cherished what he called a ‘grande passion'” (chapter 15). Jane concerns Mrs. Fairfax about his habits in Chapter 13 when she initially comments:” [H] e is really changeful and abrupt.” [to which Mrs. Fairfax responds] “True: no doubt, he might appear so to a stranger, but I am so accustomed to his manner, I never ever think of it; and then, if he has peculiarities of temper, allowance ought to be made,”.
When Jane inquires as to why, Mrs. Fairfax continues, “Partly due to the fact that it is his nature-and we can none people assist our nature; and, partially, he has unpleasant thoughts, no doubt, to bother him, and make his spirits unequal.” (ch. 13) This exchange exposes that it is evident to others that Rochester is burdened with guilt and uncomfortable memories. An additional function of the Byronic hero lies in a dark secret from his past. Rochester’s previous includes his mad partner, Bertha whom he wed purely for her appearances, and who now resides in the attic of Thornfield.
The Byronic hero is likewise known to be prone to moodiness. This is plainly common of Rochester, as we see his very first few encounters with Jane at Thornfield Hall. At first he is abrupt and nearly dismissive of Jane, “‘Let Miss Eyre be seated,’ he stated: and there was something in the forced stiff bow, in the restless yet formal tone, which appeared further to reveal, ‘What the deuce is it to me whether Miss Eyre be there or not? At this moment I am not disposed to accost her. ‘” (ch. 13)
While cold and aloof long times, other times Mr. Rochester appears to be caring and mindful. He did certainly choose to raise Adele Varens, knowing full well that she wasn’t his child. He does describe her as “a French dancer’s bastard– not my own kid” and yet he makes sure that Adele gets the finest education and care. This shows his compassion, stability and displays qualities of a great daddy. He has actually also provided similar care and room for Bertha, who contributes absolutely nothing more than unpleasant memories of his past and shows to be a burden.
Rather of sending her off to reside in an organization, he picks to keep her in his home. Fruthermore when Bertha sets your house on fire, Rochester overlooks his own security in attempting to conserve her. This highlights his nerve and nobility. He considers her safety before his own and such an act redeems him in jane’s eyes. Rochester is undoubtedly rather enthusiastic about Jane. This is seen in Chapter 27, when Rochester is speaking with Jane about his love for her, “Then you are incorrect, and you know absolutely nothing about me, and nothing about the sort of love of which I am capable.
Every atom of your flesh is as dear to me as my own”. Another example of rochester’s capacity for screens of affection is shown when Jane exclaims: “He kissed me consistently” (chapter 23). What sets Rochester apart from the Romantic heroes of his time is the reality that Bronte illustrates him as not classically good-looking, “with his broad and jetty eyebrows; his square forehead, made squarer by the horizontal sweep of his black hair. I identified his definitive nose, more exceptional for character than appeal …” (chapter 13).
The significance of rochester’s general appearance appears to be summed up in jane’s comment, “his definitive nose, more remarkable for character than for appeal”. This shows Charlotte brontes picture of her hero and heroine. Her representation of them follows a deep exploration into their personalities rather than an ideal appearance. This adds realism to her characters and makes them appear authentic. Although Rochester is considered a social castaway of sorts, he is incredibly charismatic, and people appear drawn to him regardless of his lesser qualities.
While hosting the blanche ingram celebration, He appears uneasy and is just seen sensation at ease when talking alone with Jane by the fireside. Rochester’s ignorant arrogance is viewed as he pursues Jane while still wed to Bertha. Rochester thinks about Bertha to be simply someone under his care rather than his spouse due to the fact that he has encouraged himself that his marriage to Bertha is almost invalid. Rochester’s near bigamy grants us with yet another example of his “Byronic” qualities: his thoughts on morals and principles are twisted.
Due to a hard life loaded with battle, Rochester feels caught in his scenarios. He refuses to consider ethical concepts as absolute and changeless, rather he think them to be dependant on one’s scenario. This is how he justifies his extravagances. Rochester likes to make reasons for himself: as he says,” [S] ince joy is irrevocably rejected me, I have a right to get pleasure out of life: and I will get it, cost what it may.” Much like a Byronic hero, Rochester is not afraid to neglect social conventions when he falls in love with Jane.
He has total disregard for social rank. This is likewise obvious in his relationship with Jane. Rochester cares nothing of what people will think when he weds a previous governess: “‘You– bad and obscure, and small and plain as you are– I entreat to accept me as a hubby'” (chapter 23) However, upon meeting Jane, Rochester is aiming to renew himself and enhance his lifestyle, but his enthusiasms and materialism require to be disciplined before he can be the correct hubby for Jane.
In the end, when bertha sets fire to Thornfield, he is blinded and loses a hand. Having hence symbolically paid for his sins, Rochester is now assisted morally and is repentant. “I did incorrect … Divine justice pursued it’s course; catastrophes came thick on me …” Rochester shows to have self-awareness– a characteristic that is consistent with those of a Byronic hero. He learns from his mistakes and turns towards God, “Of late, Jane– just– just of late– I began to see and acknowledge the hand of God in my doom.
I began to experience regret, repentance; the long for reconcilement to my Maker. I started in some cases to hope: very quick prayers they were, but extremely genuine. (3. 11. 248) Hence making himself pure and fitting as a husband for Jane. Rochester shows to be reformed, and the flawed character that Bronte first presents to us at the beginning of the novel has actually achieved his growth in order to conquer his sins and begin afresh.
In my opinion, Bronte’s presentation of Rochester is something in between an “appealing hero” and a “melodramatic dream character”. While Rochester’s characteristics keep a genuine and human side of him that permits him to make errors and then learn from them, they also tend to lean towards extreme. There is definitely a sense of drama about this character, but Bronte utilizes this to make Rochester a proper hero for a gothic book and an even more apt husband for Jane.