In Jane Eyre, discuss the presentation of Celine Varens and Jane Eyre as foils.

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Unlike the prim, Quakerly Miss Eyre the governess, Celine Varens comes into Rochester 's life as an opera dancer, a profession associated with prostitution and loose morals. She professes love and adoration for Rochester, saying she prefers his looks to those of other men. He believes she idolizes him. However,...

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Unlike the prim, Quakerly Miss Eyre the governess, Celine Varens comes into Rochester's life as an opera dancer, a profession associated with prostitution and loose morals. She professes love and adoration for Rochester, saying she prefers his looks to those of other men. He believes she idolizes him. However, unlike Jane Eyre, whose heart is pure and whose words are sincere, Celine means nothing of what she says. She is simply using Rochester for the money and clothing she can get from him. As Rochester notes, while Celine pretends to like his looks, she is abusing him for them when he is seemingly out of earshot. In contrast, Jane tells him from the start that he is not good looking.

Rochester, according to his own account, discovers Celine's hypocrisy when he is waiting for her one night. Celine gets out of a carriage with her lover, a vicomte so "brainless and vicious" that Celine immediately sinks in Rochester's opinion for taking up with such a man. Rochester quickly falls out of love with her, though he raises the child they have together.

Celine's shallowness and deceptive nature are a foil to Jane's depth and honesty. Jane is a person of character on whom Rochester can rely. Jane is truthful and will do what is right, whereas Celine is dishonest and opportunistic. Given what Rochester has endured from Celine, we can better understand why he is attracted to Jane Eyre.

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In Chapter 15, where Rochester tells Jane about his past affair with Adele's mother, and how he came to be Adele's guardian, Rochester admits to Jane that he and Celine Varens were lovers and that he had what he called a "grande passion" for her. What is key to realise from the description of Celine Varens is that she seems to be a character who knows no restraint in the expression of her passion and desire, as, in response to Rochesters "grande passion," she evidently returned his lust in a more intense fashion:

This passion Celine had professed to return with even superior ardour. He thought herself his idol, ugly as he was...

Of course, Rochester discovers that Celine had relationships outside of her affair with him, and it is this discovery that causes him to end his affair with her. Celine is therefore presented as yet another figure in this novel who is unable to restrain her base desires and instincts, in the same way that Mrs Rochester is unable to, and even, to a certain extent, Rochester himself, as is shown when he desires Jane and wants to marry her even though that would be against the law.

By contrast, Jane is a foil to Celine Varens as she is a figure who restrains her passions and desires. When she has the opportunity to go to Europe and live with Rochester as his mistress, away from the gaze of society, she refuses, as she does not allow her passions and desires to overpower her rational intellect and reason.

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