In Jane Eyre, can we cosider Rochester as a Gothic hero or as a Byronic one?

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jkirkwoo eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This can be hard to distinguish and also can depend on who you ask.

Byronic heroes often have the characteristics such as high intelligence and perception, hidden curse or crime, educated with sophistication, cunning ability to adapt, mysterious yet charismatic, moodiness, social and sexual dominance, distaste for social norms or institutions, and cynicism.

Gothic heroes often have the characteristics such as being wise beyond their years or old beyond their time, proud and reckless, alienated and consider themselves a law unto themselves, burdened by a secret guild or secret, as well as experienced in other realities.

As you can see there are similar characteristics in both the Gothic hero and the Byronic hero.

I myself support the conclusion that Rochester is a Byronic one because he has a distaste for social norms and institutions(marrying Jane even though he was still legally married), a type of hidden curse (the insane wife), moody and mysterious although charismatic as seen at the parties he would have.  The Gothic characteristics that he doesn't have are being well experienced in other realities and reckless.

But as you can see in the links each site believes differently the first one viewing him as a Gothic hero and the second one viewing him as a Byronic hero.

akasha124 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Due to Rochester's moody yet passionate attitude and his untraditional yet charismatic appearance, he is considered a Byronic hero.  Additionally, Byronic heroes tend to be world travelers and tend to have gotten into trouble while abroad, making it so they have troubling secrets.

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Jane Eyre

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