Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is a classic example of Gothic fiction. The novel tells the story of Jane, an orphan who is mistreated by her relatives and sent to live at Lowood School. At Lowood, Jane meets Mr Rochester, a dark and brooding Byronic hero. Their first encounter is presented in Chapter 12 of the novel.
Bronte uses a number of literary devices to present the first encounter between Jane and Mr Rochester. She uses foreshadowing to hint at the darkness that lies ahead for the pair. For example, when Mr Rochester first sees Jane, he comments on her “pilot-cloth” dress, which is later revealed to be the same dress she wore when she nearly died in a shipwreck. This foreshadows the difficulties that the pair will face in their relationship.
Bronte also uses contrast to highlight the differences between Jane and Mr Rochester. For instance, while Jane is described as being “plain” and “small”, Mr Rochester is said to be “tall” and “broad”. This contrast emphasizes the fact that they are complete opposites, which makes their relationship all the more interesting.
Overall, Charlotte Bronte does a great job of presenting the first encounter between Jane and Mr Rochester. She uses literary devices such as foreshadowing and contrast to create a tense and suspenseful scene which leaves readers wanting more.
In Chapter 12, Bronte explores the connection between Jane and Mr Rochester for the first time. The entrance of Mr Rochester into the novel in Chapter 12, which goes unnoticed to Jane until the final paragraphs of the chapter, is an effective means for the reader to examine both Jane’s and Mr Rochester’s personalities. This serves as a sign of what is to come throughout the rest of the book.
Mr Rochester’s first appearance in the novel is during one of Jane’s daydreams, where she pictures him as a dark and brooding Byronic hero, which foreshadows his real character. Charlotte Bronte uses this opportunity to give the reader an insight into Mr Rochester’s physical appearance, which acts as a contrast to Jane’s description of him in her daydream.
When Mr Rochester finally appears, he is not the dashing and romantic figure that Jane had pictured, but instead he is “a stout gentleman… with curled mustache and whiskers making their way up to his eyes…with a square forehead…and something like a sneer curling his lip and flashing from under his heavy eyebrows.” This description immediately sets Mr Rochester up as being an unappealing and somewhat threatening character, which is in stark contrast to Jane’s initial impressions of him.
However, it is not just Mr Rochester’s physical appearance that is off-putting, but his behaviour towards Jane is also rather hostile. From their first meeting, Mr Rochester adopts a condescending tone with Jane and speaks to her in a way that makes her feel inferior. He criticises her reading habits and her intelligence, which leads Jane to believe that he sees her as “a little girl… ignorant of almost everything save the ABC.” It is only when Mr Rochester starts to tell Jane about his life and his experiences that she begins to see him in a different light and starts to feel sympathy for him.
Despite Mr Rochester’s gruff exterior, Charlotte Bronte slowly starts to reveal his softer side through his interactions with Jane. For example, when he finds out that Jane has been crying, he immediately tries to comfort her and make her feel better. This is a significant moment as it shows that Mr Rochester is not the cold-hearted man that he initially appears to be and instead has a caring side to him. This side of his character is further explored later on in the novel when he opens up to Jane about his dark past and reveals his true feelings for her.
From their first meeting, it is clear that there is a strong connection between Jane and Mr Rochester. Although their initial encounter is far from ideal, it does provide the reader with an insight into the complex relationship that develops between them over the course of the novel. Charlotte Bronte expertly uses this first meeting to start exploring the different facets of both Jane and Mr Rochester’s characters, which lays the foundations for the rest of their story.
It’s evident from the start of the chapter that Jane is frustrated with her position at Thornfield. Although Bronte depicts her circumstances in the household as one of comfort and that for many people would breed contentment, it becomes apparent that Jane’s burning desire for greater fulfillment in life, “more useful experience than I had” has given rise to restlessness.
When Rochester suddenly appears, Jane is at first “suspicious and distrustful”. This is largely due to the fact that she has been living in a world where she feels she constantly needs to be on her guard, Thornfield being “a strange place”. Rochester himself is presented as a Byronic hero; he is brooding, mysterious and often seems to be lost in his own thoughts.
He is also shown to be a passionate individual, something which is evident in the way he talks about his travels. When Rochester does finally engage with Jane, he does so in a way that catches her off guard. He speaks to her in a direct and honest manner, something which she is not used to from the people she has encountered at Thornfield. This, combined with his physical attractiveness, causes Jane to feel “strangely confused”.
It is clear that the first encounter between Jane and Rochester is one that is fraught with tension and excitement. This is due in part to the way in which they are both presented in the chapter. Jane is shown to be a passionate individual who is yearning for more out of life, whilst Rochester is presented as a brooding and mysterious Byronic hero. Their first meeting is one that catches Jane off guard, but it is clear that there is a mutual attraction between them. This first encounter sets the stage for the further development of their relationship in later chapters.