Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre can be viewed in many different ways, but most of all, it is a romantic novel Some, however, don’t see it this way. The beginning stages of the love relationship between Jane and Mr. Rochester’s are a bit unusual. Some may say Mr. Rochester treats Jane unfairly. It’s not until later on in the story when Jane meets another man, that she realizes her true love for Mr. Rochester. This is what makes a romantic novel.
There are two stages or parts to the relationship between Jane and Mr. Rochester. The first stage begins when they first meet in chapter 10 and continues until Jane’s departure in Chapter 27. This stage of their relationship is best described as dishonest and somewhat peculiar. When Jane and Rochester first meet, (p.129), she is unaware that the rider, who has just fallen off of his horse, is Mr. Rochester, her trip to the post office is interrupted when a horse slips on some ice and throws the rider off. Jane goes to offer help to this stranger. After refusing to let Jane go for help, the rider starts asking her questions about the owner of Thornfield. Rochester acts somewhat startled when Jane admits she’s never actually seen the owner. Not only is this first encounter extremely strange because he forgets to mention the fact that he is Mr. Rochester, but he acts startled when she admits that she’s never met her employer, the infamous Mr. Rochester.
Throughout the whole first part of Jane and Rochester’s relationship, we constantly see Rochester testing Jane in all different ways. In chapter 14, he blatantly asks Jane if she thinks he is a handsome man. (When people ask such questions, it’s either a joke to see what someone will say, or the person is just extremely conceited which Rochester doesn’t show at any other time).
The first time we see the connection between Rochester and Jane is when they have the conversation about Celine Varens. This is where Rochester completely opens up to Jane about his feelings for Celine and how she broke his heart.
Rochester’s biggest trick was when he dressed up as a gypsy and demanded to read the fortunes of all of the young women of the house. When it Jane’s turn came, the gypsy hounded her with questions about her feelings towards Rochester. Jane cautiously answered, remembering that the gypsy mentioned being a friend of Grace Poole. Shortly after, Rochester reveals his true identity and begins to boast about how well he tricked everyone. While he thinks he did this wonderful job on portraying a gypsy, Jane, as well as most of the readers, see this as a rather childish act that was very cruel. No one likes to be tricked.
Shortly into Jane’s stay at Thornfield, we meet a new woman in Rochester’s life, Blanche Ingram. Blanche is an extremely snobby, upper class woman who isn’t really fond of Jane. One of her many rude acts was purposely having a conversation in front of Jane about how useless governess are. Eventually, there are rumors saying that Rochester will marry Blanche Ingram. Rochester speaks about a “Mrs. Rochester” many times, but is very careful not to mention any names. One example of this is when Mr. Rochester says, “you must see the carriage, Jane, and tell me if you don’t think it will suit Mrs. Rochester exactly” While the readers and Jane think this is his way of rubbing it in her face, what he’s really doing is trying to see what Jane’s reaction will be. This is a romantic gesture.
It is not until Chapter 23 when Mr. Rochester finally confesses his love for Jane. This comes after yet another one of his tests/tricks. He finds Jane to tell her that he has found her another job as a governess in Ireland. After hearing this, Jane breaks down and sobs, saying, “I grieve to leave Thornfield: I love Thornfield” (p.283) This can be seen as his final test to make sure that Jane truly loves him. He goes on to tell Jane that he never really liked Blanche Ingram. He even tested her by spreading a rumor that he wasn’t as wealthy as he appeared to be. After hearing that, Blanche’s interest in him decreased a lot. Jane then admits that she’s been in love with Rochester all along and they romantically embrace each other for the first time. She calling out, “Dear Edward!” and he saying, “my little wife.”
Everything seems perfect until the wedding day, when we see the most dishonest thing of all. Right in the middle of the ceremony, we are told that Rochester is already married. All along, he’s had a crazy wife locked upstairs on the third floor. The fact that he hid it from Jane from the beginning and agreed only to tell her about Grace Poole a year after they were married is probably the most dishonest thing he could have done. After thinking it through, Jane decides to leave Thornfield. This is the format of the traditional romance novel. Boy gets girl, boy loses girl.
Soon after leaving Thornfield, Jane meets St. John, a man who welcomes her into his home with open arms. The relationship between St. John and Jane begins as a harmless one. Jane discovers that St. John truly loves Rosamond Oliver, but won’t be anymore than friends with her. St. John feels he would better serve God if he became a missionary in India. With this in mind, he proposes a, “love-less marriage” to Jane. At first Jane considers the proposal, but realizes it would be too much for her and she would go simply as a coworker, not a wife. Jane continues to contemplate whether or not to join him, but her choice is made when she hears a voice that she thinks is Rochester’s. After hearing his voice, she knew she still loves Rochester and must go back to him.
When Jane goes back to find Rochester, she finds more than she expected. After her departure, there was a terrible fire and Rochester lost one eye, was blinded in another, and had his left hand amputated.
The moment they reunited, they started playing games again. Jane offered to be Rochester’s nurse, a housekeeper, someone to take care of him. In reality, we all know that she really wants to be his wife. Jane tells him about her stay at the Moor house and about St. John and he shows his first signs of jealousy. He then asked Jane if she would think he was foolish if he still wanted a wife. Hoping this would lead up to something, she chose her words very carefully, replies that her feelings would depend on whom he chose to marry. She says to him, “Choose her who loves you best.” He replies, “I will choose her I love best.” (chapter 37) Rochester finally asks Jane to marry him and she gladly accepts. In the romantic style, boy gets girl back.
In order to fully understand Jane and Rochester’s relationship, you have to see that Jane tried a different lifestyle after being with Rochester. When he betrayed her, she left, and almost married another man. What her time away from Rochester shows us is that she truly loved him and couldn’t be with any other man. She made the journey back to him and jumped at the chance to marry him overlooking his handicaps, showing the passion she had for him and the romance of the novel.
Jane Eyre can be seen as a romantic novel because the romantic relationship between Jane and Mr. Rochester changes throughout the book. Although it is based on dishonesty and tricky in the beginning, they work their way through this to arrive at their true feelings and “romantically” live happily ever after.