How does Charlotte Brontë present the first encounter between Jane and Mr. Rochester in chapter 12?

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Jane and Rochester are introduced to one another in an unconventional fashion. Jane encounters Rochester on the road and does not know who he is, though he does learn that she is to be the new governess at his Thornfield Hall. As others have noted, there is a fairytale quality to this meeting: in many fairytales, the prince or princess is disguised. Of course, Rochester is not your conventional prince charming in the least, adding an ironic edge to Brontë's use of the trope.

That Jane does not know Rochester's true identity also puts them on equal footing. She is not frightened of him, especially since he is not a young and handsome man. She says,

I had a theoretical reverence and homage for beauty, elegance, gallantry, fascination; but had I met those qualities incarnate in masculine shape, I should have known instinctively that they neither had nor could have sympathy with anything in me, and should have shunned them as one would fire, lightning, or anything else that is bright but...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 819 words.)

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