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 reader that she is not scared or shy in talking to him as he is not handsome or heroic looking. If he had been handsome Jane may have felt herself to be too simple and plain, she may have been embarrassed in his company. Jane had not spent much time with men during her life, up until she was ten she lived with her cousin John Reed who bullied her. She then met Mr Brocklehurst who punished and embarrassed her at Lowood School. As Jane had never spent time in the company of a pleasant man she would not know how to act in the presents of one, Jane is more familiar with men who appear to have power over her, she goes to help Rochester without him asking and calls him sir from this it appears she believes it is her duty to help him.
Jane describes St John Rivers in a very different light; her first description of him is a very pleasant one, one she describes as a gentle description. She discusses him as young, possibly twenty eight or thirty and of a tall and slender build; she claims his face is riveting to the eye, that he has a Greek face and a straight nose
‘His eyes were large and blue, with brown lashes; his high forehead, colourless as ivory, was partially streaked over by careless locks of fair hair.’ Chapter 29.