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Jane Eyre's Lovers

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Mr. Rochester and St. John

Love is defined as ‘an intense feeling of deep affection' (“Love” def.1). Jane Eyre is a novel that follows Jane through her life from a young girl into adulthood. Jane goes through many emotions and experiences, as the book touches on many themes of love and social class. During this novel, Jane comes across two potential suitors for marriage. Both men are seemly by the time's standards but vastly different in character, moral and ethics. I believe that Mr. Rochester is a better fit for Jane because he is seeking marriage for true love and desire. He currently loves Jane for who she is and often acts spontaneously out of passion. Whereas St. John is seeking Jane’s marriage solely to fulfill a spot with his missionary work. St. John tells Jane that they will learn to love each other after they’re married.

Despite Mr. Rochester's strict manner and unpleasant appearance, Jane still finds herself falling in love with him. When Jane first runs into Mr. Rochester after his horse slips on a patch of ice, Jane describes him, "He had a dark face, with stern features and heavy brow…" (Bronte, Chapter 12). Jane tells us, the reader, that she is not scared or shy talking to Mr. Rochester. Mr. Rochester is not handsome or heroic looking, this contributes to the foundation of their relationship. We see this when Mr. Rochester blatantly ask Jane, “You examine me, Miss Eyre,” said [Mr. Rochester] “do you think me handsome?” …the answer somehow slipped from my tongue before I was aware— “No, sir” [said Jane] (Bronte, Chapter 14). If he had been handsome, Jane might have been embarrassed to talk to him and felt that she was too dull and simple. Jane did not know how to act in the presence of a man because she never grew up in the company of ethical men. Jane was more familiar with men who appear to have power over her. She goes to help Rochester without him asking and calls him sir. From this, it seems she believes she must help him. This interaction is when we see the first example of Jane and Mr. Rochester being of unequal power.

Jane describes St. John in a very different manner; her first picture of him is an enjoyable one, one she defines as a gentle report. She describes him as young, tall and of slender build. Jane claims his face is riveting to the eye as she goes on to say, "His eyes were large and blue, with brown lashes; his high forehead, colorless as ivory, was partially streaked over by careless locks of fair hair" (Bronte, Chapter 29). Jane feels that St. John will be shocked by her plain looks, as he was so handsome. At one-point St. John even calls her plain. She is not shy with him. This could be because Jane has spent so much time in the presence of Mr. Rochester and her confidence has grown since being around the company that respects her. Jane is not awed by Rochester's first appearance but comes to love him; whereas Jane finds St. John so handsome that she questions her appearance, yet she never comes to love him. St. John gets compared to a beautiful, but cold statue. This is because appearance is not necessary to Jane; she centers more on the love and passion given or not given by these men.

Jane falls in love with Mr. Rochester quiet quickly after first meeting him. Despite their social differences, Mr. Rochester returns this love for Jane. Rochester appears to love Jane for her intelligent mind and spirit. Rochester is attracted to Jane’s true characteristics and moral integrity. Mr. Rochester once tells Jane, "You-you strange, you almost unearthly thing! -I love you as my own flesh. You- poor and obscure, and small and plain as you are…" (Bronte, Chapter 23). This explains to Jane that her confidence and courage towards men is not usual for the time and is one of the reasons Rochester finds her so attractive.

Where St. John never actually loves Jane, his proposal of marriage is all reason and not emotion. He gives up his love for Miss Rosamond Oliver quickly because he does not believe she would make a good missionary wife. This helps show St. John's lack of passion for love. As Marla Yuen states, "Charlotte Bronte sees the relationship between man and woman as one of mutual need, a kind of equal partnership in which the woman is not just the object of pursuit or desire, but is recognized as an active contributor unafraid to love with all-consuming passion, willing to devote herself to the man, and yet exacting respect and a recognition of her rights as an individual" (185). I believe Bronte does not let Jane marry St. John because their relationship would be very unequal and an objectified relationship. St. John would never give Jane any love or the pursuit of passion. Jane’s need for love is what ensures her that she cannot marry St. John. She does not love him, and he does not love her. St. John talks

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