Mr. Rochester: Dark and dissolute rake or noble hero?
There are a number of schools of thought regarding the character Mr. Rochester in Bronte’s timeless classic Jane Eyre. Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea offers us a view of Thornfield’s brooding tenant that is altogether different from the heroic bent that we get from Jane’s perspective. In analyzing Rochester, I think the biggest and most important question we must ask ourselves is whether or not Rochester was justified in his treatment of Bertha, his mentally unstable wife. We are assured in the book that keeping her shut up in the attic was a most noble thing to do, saving her from the purportedly worse fate of being sent to an asylum. That said, did Rochester really treat Bertha in the most noble manner possible? Are his actions ultimately forgivable? Furthermore, was Rochester’s deceitful behavior towards Jane justified? I’d be really interested to hear others’ thoughts on this matter. Feel free to leave your response in the form of an answer; or, if you wish to elaborate further, you may reblog this and pen your thoughts there.