Comparing St John Rivers and Rochester in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

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Jane Eyre is a novel written by Charlotte Bronte in 1847, it is written in the first-person narrative. The plot follows Jane Eyre through her life from a young age and through the novel the reader sees Jane maturing from a young girl into adulthood, the novel has Jane going through many emotions and experiences and touches on many themes for example love, social class and religion. During the novel Jane encounters two important men and through these men has two proposals of marriage, one from Rochester whom she loves and the other from her cousin St John Rivers. The two men are portrayed very differently, as are their marriage proposals. This essay will compare and contrast St John Rivers and Edward Rochester. Jane had a testing childhood at the hands of her aunt Mrs Reed and her cousins. She lived with the Reed’s until ten years of age and during these ten years she was bullied and unloved. Jane was then sent away to Lowood School she appeared excited to leave Gateshead yet at Lowood she experienced more ridicule and a hard school life. However she did find friendship in Helen Burns, although this friendship was short lived as Helen died during a breakout of typhus, Helen had shown Jane that life at Lowood could be bearable; she was also the first friend Jane ever really had. Despite Rochester’s stern manner and unhandsome appearance, Jane still finds herself falling in love with him. During her first encounter with Rochester Jane describes him ‘He had a dark face, with stern features and a heavy brow…’ Chapter 12. She goes on to describe his eyes and gathered eyebrows as ireful she is claiming that his eyes are angry and full of wrath, she also describes him as past his youth but not yet middle aged. Jane tells the re... ... middle of paper ... ...t. John Rivers; Jane would have to sacrifice her passion for the sake of religious duty. However with Rochester, whilst Bertha was alive Jane would be forced to sacrifice her morality for the sake of her passion. When she heard of Bertha’s death she realised that with Rochester she can live her passion to the fullness. Rochester and St John Rivers both have passion, Rochester’s is a passion for his love of Jane whereas St John Rivers is a passion for his work as a missionary, and he allows this passion to quell his love for Miss Oliver. St John Rivers is prepared to come to love Jane over time; however this is a sign of his lack of passion while Rochester truly loves Jane despite their differences, and his love for her is true love. For Jane it is a choice between a marriage of passion or a marriage of practicality, for Jane it is her passion that eventually wins.

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