Character Analysis Edward Fairfax Rochester


While Jane's life has been fairly sedate, long, quiet years at Lowood, Rochester's has been wild and dissipated. An example of the Byronic hero, Rochester is a passionate man, often guided by his senses rather than by his rational mind. For example, when he first met Bertha Mason, he found her dazzling, splendid, and lavish — all qualities that excited his senses and resulted in their catastrophic marriage. Similarly, he let himself be ruled by his "grande passion" for Céline Varens, despite its immorality. Rochester is not afraid to flout social conventions. This is also apparent in his relationship with Jane: Rather than maintaining proper class boundaries, Rochester makes her feel "as if he were my relation rather than my master."

Like Jane, Rochester is connected with almost psychic powers. His "wealth" of power for communicating happiness seems magical to Jane, as are his abilities to read people's unspoken thoughts from their eyes with incomprehensible acumen. As gypsy fortuneteller, he weaves a magical web around Jane with words and looks directly into her heart so that she feels as "unseen spirit" is watching and recording all of her feelings. He also peers into Blanche's heart, recognizing her for a fortune hunter. Finally, his telepathic cry to Jane when she's at Moor House shows his psychic ability. Like Jane, he taps into the magical powers of the universe in professing his love.

When he meets Jane, Rochester is planning to change his lifestyle. Giving up his wild, dissipated life on the continent, he's searching for freshness and freedom. Rochester's goal is self-transformation, a reformation to be enacted through his relationships with women. Longing for innocence and purity, he wants Jane to be the good angel in his life, creating new harmony. Despite these desires for a new life, Rochester is still caught in a web of lies and immorality: He attempts bigamy and then tries to convince Jane to be his mistress. He also tries to objectify Jane by clothing her in expensive satins and laces, leaving her feeling like a "performing ape." Although Rochester had critiqued Blanche Ingram and Céline Varens for their materialism and superficiality, here he seems to be mimicking them. Rochester's passions and materialism need to be disciplined before he can be the proper husband for Jane. Perhaps not insignificantly, he is blinded and loses a hand when Bertha sets fire to Thornfield; symbolically, his excessive passion has finally exploded, leaving him disabled. Rochester has passed "through the valley of the shadow of death" to become the perfect mate. Having finally paid for his sins, he is now a suitably docile husband for Jane, who morally guides and corrects him at novel's end.