Jane's most significant relationship is that with her employer, the mysterious Mr. Rochester. Although Jane at one point tells Mr. Rochester that he "feels like home," this friendship does not come without complications. Using text evidence, characterize the relationship between Jane and Rochester in chapters 1-25 of Jane Eyre.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Jane and Rochester's relationship is complicated from the beginning, because he isn't straightforward with her. At their first meeting, she tells him she's the new governess at Thornfield Hall, but he doesn't reveal who he is. When they are both at the manor and she realizes he's her employer, he still acts strangely and Jane has trouble understanding him.

For example, in one of their early conversations, he makes vague references to some error he committed in in the past that has made him miserable and a new, sweet influence in his life.

Jane tries to cut the conversation short because she doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Then Rochester reveals he can already see Jane's inner self even though he's still a mystery to her:

I see at intervals the glance of a curious sort of bird through the close-set bars of a cage; a vivid, restless resolute captive is there; were it but free, it would soar cloud-high.

The two of them become friends as Jane grows more comfortable in his presence. She tells the reader he welcomes her gladly to their evening talks, so she feels they are “sought as much for his pleasure as for my benefit.”

They get even closer when Jane saves Rochester from the fire in his bedroom. He calls her his "cherished preserver." She tells readers, "Strange energy was in his voice; strange fire in his look." It's obvious she's sexually attracted to him as well. She spends a sleepless night trying to resist her feelings, noting "judgment would warn passion."

Jane is right to be cautious. Rochester was lying to her about who caused the fire. He implied it was Grace Poole when it was actually his wife, Bertha, the madwoman being kept in the attic whose existence Jane and the readers aren’t aware of yet.

Rochester also tries to manipulate Jane and make her jealous by pretending to court Blanche Ingram. He even disguises himself as a gypsy woman to try to get Jane to reveal her true feelings for him.

Rochester can even be said to be manipulating Jane during the proposal scene. He has led her to believe he plans to marry Blanche, so when he asks Jane to be his wife, she thinks he is playing a cruel trick on her until he finally tells her the truth.

Jane is overjoyed and accepts Rochester’s proposal. Rochester showers her with affection, but she heeds Mrs. Fairfax’s words of caution: “Gentlemen in his position are not accustomed to marry their governesses.” She doesn’t let him buy her fine clothes and jewels, because she wants to be his equal rather than his dependent.

In the days before the wedding, Jane alternates between happiness and doubt. She senses that something is not quite right, especially after Bertha tears her wedding veil. Rochester tells Jane that it was Grace Poole who tore the veil and that the horrifying face she saw in the night was just a bad dream.

Chapter 25 ends with Jane getting up on the morning of her wedding. She tells readers, “I was now to array myself to meet the dread, but adored, type of my unknown future day.” This foreshadows the terrible news she will soon learn, the secret that has haunted her relationship with the man she loves: he is still married.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team