In Bronte's Jane Eyre, how do Mr. Rochester and St. John Rivers differ as characters and the influence they have over Jane. How does each man cause her internal conflict between passion and reason? 

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mr. Rochester and St. John Rivers each use different tactics to get what they want out of Jane. Rochester wants to find out if she loves him through immature games that he plays in front of her with other women, while also deceiving her about his true situation. Rivers, on the other hand, isn't deceitful, but he's also not affectionate, loving (in a romantic way) or very respectful of someone whom he regards as intelligent, but not his equal. Rochester knows that Jane is beneath him as far as the English social class structure is concerned, but he is able to love her romantically and consider her his equal. During Rochester's proposal in Chapter XXIII, he openly says to Jane "because my equal is here, and my likeness" (183). Rivers simply respects Jane for her plainness and lack of beauty for his religious causes. Marriage to him is a business partnership that she should enter into out of duty to God. Rochester causes Jane inner conflict before the wedding and during when his secret wife is revealed. She has love, but can't legally have it with Rochester. Rivers causes Jane stress because he uses guilt and duty as devices to manipulate her into marriage with him. Of Rivers Jane says, "He is a good and great man: but he forgets, pitilessly, the feelings and claims of little people, in pursuing his own large views"(298). Good thing she understood this before she married him; consequently, of course, she didn't marry him.

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Jane Eyre

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