Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bront( is a romantic and gothic novel. It also a Bildungsroman, if which the reader follows the development of the protagonist, Jane Eyre from childhood to adulthood. It is the intention of this essay to consider the marriage of Edward Rochester and Bertha Manson and the potential marriage of St. John Rivers and Jane Eyre, and they attitudes to marriage they portray. The marriage of Edward Rochester and Bertha Manson does not take place in the present tense in Jane Eyre.
Their marriage is only talked about after Rochester’s marriage to Jane Eyre is cancelled because it is revealed he is lready married to Bertha Manson, who he keeps in the attic of his house. Edward and Bertha had had an arranged marriage that was set up by their fathers. Rochester was marrying Bertha because he was the youngest of two sons, he would not be left any property as his father did not want to divide it, yet he did not want any son of his being a “poor man”. So Rochester’s father and a friend of his, a rich plantation owner Mr Manson who lived in Spanish Town in Jamaica, set up an arranged marriage.
From this marriage Rochester would earn thirty thousand pounds. When they met Rochester found her a very attractive women, and found it ery pleasing that he was the envy of a lot of men. However the marriage did not go well, he realised that they he never been alone together or really spoke during their courtship and she was just used to entice him, “They showed her to me in parties, splendidly dressed. I seldom saw her alone, and had very little private conversation with her. 2]” After the marriage Rochester soon found out that Bertha’s mother who had thought to be dead was in fact in an insane asylum, and her brother also suffered the same condition.
He also found out that his father and brother new this already and had plotted it against him. Bertha them became violent and her state deteriorated until she was very mentally unstable, to the point where Rochester concealed her in his attic with servant to mind her. The attitude that the marriage of Edward Rochester and Bertha Manson portrays is that although marriage in the setting of the novel was a holly institution it was not carefully thought about.
The fact that when Rochester tells Jane about his meeting with Bertha he tells her that he was showncreates the marriage was not intended for love, and that he was being shown his prize or his new toy, that he could dismiss at leisure. Rochester also tells Jane “She flattered me, and lavishly displayed for my pleasure her charms and accomplishments. ” This shows that Bertha tried to win Rochester over by complementing him, and hypnotising him with her personality. This nature appealed to him and excited him, to they extent he thought he loved her.
Rochester then says however “There is no folly so besotted that the idiotic rivalries of society” showing that he was marrying Bertha for gain in his society, and so would be approved more, especially since of his new financial gain from marrying her. Rochester and Bertha’s marriage also portray the attitude that the people f that period, did not take the time to get to know each other, and so the actual wedding ceremony was the only thing they had in common. It can be seen in Jane Eyre that Rochester felt this of his wife Bertha Manson as he says “I found her nature wholly alien to mine; her tastes obnoxious to me;”.
This shows that Rochester and his new wife were totally opposite to each other, yet they hadn’t learned that before they got married. It can also be seen that after Bertha’s condition deteriorates Rochester does not stand by her, and as the vows of marriage include in sickness and in health he does not seem to be respectful of that. Throughout his explanation to Jane, Rochester refers to his wife as a “maniac”, a “mad- woman”, a “demon”, a “monster” and a “filthy burden”, and also states that he wants “a better wife”. 11] Bertha in Jane Eyre also acts a symbol; she can be seen as representing the wife of the Victorian man. Bertha being locked away in Thornfield could be seen as presenting the image of the wives of these time being locked or imprisoned in the own home by society, never being aloud the freedom that is given to men.
The attitude that Rochester and Bertha Manson marriages portrays is that a ot of marriage at the time of the novel, were not done out of love, but done to better one self in status, class and in finaical circumstances. The next marriage that will be looked at is the potential marriage of St. John Rivers and Jane Eyre. Jane meets St. John after she leaves Thornfield after finding about Rochester’s wife. She is then taken in by the Rivers family after she becomes homeless and destitute. The Rivers family take great care of Jane, and they also get her a job. St. John becomes very fond of Jane, which is first not known to her as she thinks that he is in love with Rosmand Oliver. Jane describes St. John as eing attractive, and to an extent statuesque. One day St. John becomes distant and tells Jane that Rosmand Oliver is engaged to someone else. St. John then tells Jane about the missionary work he will soon be leaving to do in India.
He asks Jane to come with him as his wife as he tells her “you are formed for labour, not for love. A missionary’s wife you must-shall be. You shall be mine: I claim you-not for my pleasure, but for my Sovereign’s service”. This portrays the image that not only is Jane being chosen as second best in her opinion, but it is unromantic and selfish. The very fact that Jane considers they offer s because she cannot have what she wants, which is Edward Rochester.
Jane does not feel she can marry St. John as she does not love him, and to marry him would be abandoning part of herself, “but as his wife-at his side always, and always restrained, and always checked-forced to keep the fire of my nature continually low, to compel it to burn inwardly and never utter a cry, though the imprisoned flame consumed vital after vital-this would be unendurable. “ Jane also realises that St. John will never love her, as she says “He will never love me; but he shall approve me”, shows that she may consider he offer, but she feels that if she does, she would be extinguishing the fire in her soul and turning it to ice.
St. John then tries to make Jane feel guilty by telling her that by turning her back on him she is also turning her back on the Christian Faith. The attitude that is portrayed by the potential marriage of St. John Rivers and Jane Eyre is that again marriage was not always done out of love. St. John does not love Jane the fact that he tells her she was formed for labour not love also shows he has no intention of maybe ever loving her, but wants her as a companion. St. John also tells Jane that he claims her; his again portrays the image that women were mere objects to men in the Victorian age.
In conclusion the attitudes that are portrayed regarding marriage in Jane Eyre is that they were rarely done out of love. The can be seen from the marriage of Edward Rochester and Bertha Manson and the potential marriage of St. John Rivers and Jane Eyre. Rochester was married Manson for money and the status he would gain from being a married man. St. John proposed to Jane Eyre so that she would go to India with him as his missionary wife, he also told her that she was formed for labour not love, and so she should go with him.
Another attitude portrayed regarding marriage was that even thought the marriage was not done out of love, the couple still not know each other, Rochester soon discovered that he had nothing in common with his bride which irratataed him. Jane Eyre also portrays the attitude regarding marriage that it involves imprisonment. Bertha was imprisoned by Rochester not only in Thornfield but also in Britain. As his wife she is confined to follow him and do what he says and have no individual freedom. This is the same for Jane. If she were to go to India with St. John as his wife, she would imprison to being y his side with him in another land.
Jane also felt she would be imprisoned in herself marrying St. John was not what her soul desired. Another attitude that is portrayed that furthers this idea is that the women in Jane Eyre are regarded as objects. When Rochester meets Bertha for the first time he is shown her, as if she is an exhibit on displayed. Jane is also depersonified when St. John “proposes” to her. He says I claim you this again gives the impression that Jane is not a person by an object that can be taken and discarded whenever it is appropriate, and that women are only propery in marriage.