Meeting Jane – part 2
Becoming a governess was possibly the only means for her other than marriage to earn her living. She took a job at Thornfield, where she met Rochester. He was no prince on a white horse. He was about 35 when Jane was not but 20. He was of average height and was not handsome, but Jane thought herself no beauty, either. So she remained coy with Mr. Rochester even as she was starting to develop feelings toward him. Rochester was so insecure that he went as far as dressing as a gypsy to test Jane’s feelings, but once he knew the feelings were mutual, he showered her with love.
Rochester attempted bigamy, and when that was thwarted, he tried to make Jane his mistress. This was a heart-breaking moment, but Jane wouldn’t take such a BS, just left Thornfield with very little money, and almost perished from starvation.
Jane was called back to him by supernatural forces. By then, she was rich, while Rochester had lost a great deal. The novel climaxed with Jane’s famous “Reader, I married him.”
In the romantic narrative that I had been exposed to, women were forever passive. They did not choose but were chosen because they were to be provided for as a gesture of the man’s love. Not only her psychological needs but also her basic needs depended on the level of his love. Economic inequality in sexes brought on inequality in love. Romanticism didn’t help as it tricked us into believing eternal love, meaning living well-provided ever after. Women attributed their fortune to their virtue and competed with each other for men’s affection.
Jane didn’t need love in the form of conventional masculinity. Rochester could love her for who she was, and Jane, him. Her assertive voice represented her power to choose her fate. Readers never knew whether they lived happily ever after, but I believed she did, with or without Rochester.