Posted by Lynn on September 30, 1997 at 13:27:29:
In response to J&R's first meetings, written by Cheryl on September 29, 1997 at 13:33:25
] This is only the second time I've read Jane Eyre, but I well remember my initial aversion to Rochester. I thought "This man is a complete jerk and he's supposed to be this great romantic figure?" He is rude to Jane, short-tempered, in bad humor, gruff, etc... But Jane took it all in stride. She had been so used to being treated poorly by everyone that she didn't find it unusual or hurtful, I suppose.
] On this reading, I can see the pain behind Rochester's outbursts, for I know his history now, and I'm more forgiving. But Jane did not know his history, nor do first-time readers. Did any of you have the same reaction I did on their first reading?
I think with my first reading I did think he was a bit of a jerk, but I don't think that totally turned me off. He does recognize that Jane has wit, that she is a match for him, and I think the way she descibes him did carry some weight with me. But I also know that people with little self-esteem will sometime be that way to cover their insecurities. I think this is what I felt about Rochester. He is insecure, so he has to be gruff to cover his vulnerability. He is attracted to Jane, but he doesn't dare show it because he doesn't want to get hurt the way his mistresses hurt him. I think Jane can see through this to an extent, so he finally realizes that he can be himself with her.
There is also the element of being a 'big brother' here. Not Big Brother in the sense of Orwell, but big brother in the sense of trying to get a rise out of her - my two brothers did this constantly. I think it is a kind of power thing. When they realize they can't get a rise out of you, they give up and start to treat you a little better (well, theoretically!). He tries to get a rise out of her by ridiculing her and talking about how she is a fairy, etc. but it doesn't work, so he finally stops and tries to discover who she really is.
The fact that he played games with Blanche and Jane's affections is wrong, but I think he wanted to be sure that Jane didn't just want him for his money the way Blanche did. And certainly the fact that he tried to marry her illegally is wrong - by not telling her from the beginning, he merely delays his pain and her inevitable departure. It shows that he doesn't know her as well as he thinks he does that he thinks she will stay with him even when she knows that he is married.
who apologizes for rambling!!
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