Jane Eyre Jane Eyre question

Rochester and Bertha
Randi Randi Jun 05, 2013 12:52PM
Lots of people seem to be uncertain of how they view Rochester. I see lots of comments lately on how he treated his wife "unjustly" by locking her away. Also, the way he treated Jane seems to be a huge concern of others. So I would just like to say:
Bertha was a threat to not only herself, but to others around her. There were no adult foster homes or mental hospitals back then. Only insane asylums, which, I'm sure everyone is aware, were ruthless in their treatment of residents. This kind of resident abuse lasted up until well past the 60s and 70s. So I'm sure Rochester locking her up in a padded room where he could over-see her care himself was the best thing he could do for the time. Also, to say Rochester is a "cheater" or "unfaithful" is a decent enough accusation and I understand fully what you mean. But divorces and legal separations were not every day fare back in Jane & Rochester's time, consider that. You also have to keep in mind that even though he was legally married to Bertha, it was a one-way street as far as love and affection was concerned. He was getting nothing back, so I completely understand the way he may have felt all alone in that house.
As for the way he treated Jane, what was it, the 1800s? I think all of us gals would be a little miffed (and that's putting it lightly) to realize just how women were treated back then. Jane, by today's standards, is a mousy little push-over. But she is portrayed a feminist in this book because she broke new ground with her change in behavior, however so slight it may've been.

It is not entirely clear what year JANE EYRE was set in, but probably a divorce would have called for an Act of Parliament -- very very expensive. If Rochester really did want to get rid of Bertha, the thing to do would be to find a crappy asylum and park her there. Essentially, let the asylum do the murder for him.
The other very real option for him was to leave her in Jamaica, in the care of her family there It would be hard for them to get off the hook; they had money (remember Rochester was set up with her so that he as the younger son would be provided for) and she would be far, far away. Out of sight, out of mind.

I love this book but Rochester would not have been appealing to me at all, he had some really serious faults.

I do find myself agreeing with gertt's commentary.

I don't know whether you have read "wide Sargasso Sea" or not but I feel that a story about and for Antoinette and Rochester was sorely needed. Not just saying that because my A2 exams are on these books in a few weeks... My personal opinion is that Rochester, like Jane was the product of his time.

Sorrel (last edited May 05, 2014 12:53PM ) Jun 26, 2013 08:42AM   0 votes
When I first read it last year I thought that Mr Rochester had done the best thing he could of in the situation, although after reading Brenda's comment maybe the solution of leaving her with her family would have been a better one. Bertha was a threat to other people and herself, it was likely one of the safest ways to deal with it. Mr Rochester could have done worse things, and couldn't have done much better (for the standards of those times). So I think I agree with you.
Also, I'd just like to add that in all of the Bronte sister's books they use how a person treats animals to show their kindness/cruelness. For instance, Heathcliff is incredibly abusive to animals and he is also incredibly violent and volatile to everything and everyone in his life. However Rochester treats animals, like Pilot and his horse, well. So this suggests that Charlotte Bronte wanted us to see him as a good person, underneath it all. Even if he was quite indifferent towards Adele.
Oh and also if you read some of the works of Dorothea Dix (you can read her book online) who researched mental facilities in around the same sort of time, you'd see that the majority were really rather horrible.

Chelsea (last edited Jun 17, 2013 06:30PM ) Jun 05, 2013 02:56PM   0 votes
Here are my issues with Rochester:

1) He locks Bertha up in a windowless attic room with inadequate light to be cared for by a drunk. She is never allowed out of that dreary room for air, exercise, or companionship for 10 years. Even in Victorian times they recommended light and air for mental patients. He also violently tied her up. If you weren't already insane this would drive you to it. It would also make you want to kill your captor and any accomplices, such as her brother. I don't remember her ever hurting Grace Poole, and she didn't hurt Jane when she had the chance. The final fire was probably an act of desperation. Also her obsession with fire may have been her wanting to get out of the darkness that he kept her in.
2) He criticizes her for being a promiscuous drunk, stating this as proof of her insanity when he most likely slept with half of Europe.
3) He considered smothering Bertha, the woman he vowed to cherish and protect.
4) He is a very wealthy man, in part because of Bertha's dowry. He can afford her the very best medical care that money can buy. Despite what many think, mental institutions were not necessarily that bad, especially for a wealthy patient whose family monitors their care. They usually were quite discreet, no one would have necessarily found out. She needed proper medical attention. His treatment of her is at least neglectful, if not abusive.
5) His treatment of Blanche Ingram. I did not like her, but no one deserves to be strung along for years and then dropped like a sack of potatoes.
6) His treatment of Adele, who was more than likely his daughter. The gentleman doth protest too much, methinks (yes I am aware that this is technically an incorrect usage of the phrase).
7) He tried to trick a poor, innocent, friendless young girl into a bigamous sham of a marriage. He knew full well that she would never be his mistress, as this went against her sense of morals that she held to be of the utmost importance. I don't care who you are, hiding the fact that you are already married while trying to marry someone else is horrible, cruel, and immoral, not to mention illegal. If someone did that to your sister or best friend you would hate them.

I think Jane was a strong woman for having the self-respect to hold on to her integrity. She left the man she loved because he did not live up to her standards. In doing so, she was also walking away from her livelihood. Most of us know women who stay with men who are chronic cheaters and/or abusive because they love them or because they are afraid they can't support themselves. Many of these women are ones that ordinarily seem very strong. It is not easy to walk away from love. Imagine how much harder at a time when women had few opportunities to support themselves, and especially plain, poor women were forced to marry anyone who would have them out of desperation. She did not ask him to change, but in the end he did. He paid a terrible price, he learned from it, repented, and truly changed. Only then did she accept him. That is truly a lesson for all of us. Never sacrifice yourself for love.

“I liked bonbons too in those days, Miss Eyre, and I was croquant—(overlook the barbarism)—croquant chocolate comfits...." (Chapter XV)

Taking the story in the context of the time it was written, I'm inclined to cut Rochester some slack: After all, he was honest enough to confess to his being a chocoholic!

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