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Sunday, 15 December 2013

More musings on the ending of "Jane Eyre"

Let's look again at the ending.
On 4/12, I wrote "Rochester may not be a cruel man by nature, but he isn't nice. Grumpy, coarse, irritable and moody, he doesn't treat women nicely- by "women", I do not mean the insane Bertha Mason but Adele's mother and all the women he meets between Bertha and Jane and perhaps also the young girl Adele, and even in the relationship with Jane, he can be dominating (for example, before the marriage he forces her to go to shops and then 'adorns' her, insensitive to her protest- chapter 24)." 
Rochester isn't a cruel, evil man by nature. I don't think his moodiness, harshness, irritability is what he's born with, but something that develops over time because of his tragic life, because of the horrendous situation in which he's stuck, because of his great secret, which otherwise he could get rid of, were he a bad-natured, selfish, heartless man, but which, because he is good at heart, remains and continues tormenting him for years and hardening him.
In the end, Rochester's liberated- free from his mad wife, free from the dreadful marriage, free from the awful secret, free from all the things that have acted as hindrances and obstacles to his happiness and at the same time, having lost his house, his sight and a limb but then regained his dear Jane Eyre and found happiness, let's say, he is changed. 
1 thing intrigues me, however.
Jane Eyre returns to Rochester when hearing his voice in her head, as the relationship between her and St John Rivers becomes strained because Jane not only refuses to get married to him but even says "If I were to marry you, you would kill me. You are killing me now." and the more he tries to persuade her, the more determined she becomes, and the more stubborn she is to him, the colder and cruel his attitude is and their relations increasingly worsen to the point that she feels uncomfortable, suffocated. She comes back to find Rochester, unaware of his current situation, unaware that their marriage is now possible.
Now let's change it a bit, and say that she comes back to find everything the same, the house unburnt, the wife alive and Rochester intact. What would she do? I don't mean Bertha's burning of the house is no more than a literary device, a tool to bring Jane Eyre and Rochester together and bring about a happy ending for the novel, because such a mad woman is always capable of setting the whole house on fire and killing everybody, and has attempted so before, but I'm curious to know, Jane has chosen once not to do something she considers immoral, and disrespectful to herself, but to follow her conscience and leave Rochester, what she would do now under a slightly different circumstance.

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