Jane Eyre Book Club Discussion – Day 5

Welcome to Day 5 of our Jane Eyre discussion! Today’s discussion questions are:

Do you think that Mr. Rochester was right to consider himself free to love and marry someone else? Should Bertha’s condition and/or the fact that he was tricked into marrying her make a difference?

If you were Jane, would you leave Mr. Rochester after discovering that he was married or would you consider becoming his mistress?

Share your thoughts here in the comments or head over to the CSLJ Facebook page and join in the conversation there!

You can also see the rest of our Jane Eyre Book Club posts and weigh in on the other discussion questions here.

Share this on:Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on Tumblr

11 Responses to Jane Eyre Book Club Discussion – Day 5

  1. I’ve thought a lot about this and I do feel Mr. Rochester did have the right to try to find love and remarry. I don’t always agree with people leaving their significant others when someone gets ill whether physically or mentally. I feel though in Rochesters’ case that he was in the right. Not only is he tricked into the marriage but Bertha’s condition what ever it might be is very severe. I feel they really tried to make sure he could never get a total feel for her character so that he could in no way suspect or even really not know that being such a young man he wouldn’t be able to discern that all he was feeling was just lust. I thought it was very beautiful when he told Jane that for if her mind was to “break” that he would still want to be with her. I find that it is mostly because he realizes that he was never in love with Bertha so even their few fleeting moments of a marriage never really meant anything. I don’t know if I would have been able to have such will power as Jane as to not be his mistress. Though I would for sure be upset about his lies especially when she kept asking what was going on. I do wonder if she hadn’t been able to sneak out without running into Rochester again that she would have stayed. I admire Jane for being able to hold to her beliefs though and glad that in the end she could get her man and keep her faith.

  2. Mr. Rochester was very much a victim of circumstance, and I feel sorry for him. Not only was he tricked into marrying Bertha, but he’s also stuck because of the divorce laws at the time. But but but… He was not justified in trying to trick Jane. He was not entitled to withhold the truth once Bertha started to set fires, attack people (her brother), and slash veils. I do feel sympathy for his predicament, but I feel more strongly that Jane deserved honesty, not to mention physical safety.

    Would I agree to be his mistress under those conditions? No. I couldn’t ever trust a man who had lied so flamboyantly. But I’m a modern woman, and my options are much wider. I admire Jane enormously for having the grit to leave.

    This reminds me a little of Edith’s predicament in “Downton Abbey.” She agreed to be a mistress even though she knew her lover had an insane wife. (In her case, I’m more annoyed with her for putting Marigold through three households before quasi-adopting her to live at the Abbey. That girl will have abandonment issues…)

    • OMG Edith! I hate how the writers keep dumping on Edith and there are times I could smack Mary for how she treats her sister but you are totally right about the whole moving Marigold around thing. (Although my heart breaks for the foster mothers who got attached to that sweet little baby only to have her pulled away).

  3. I’m with you ladies. I feel for Edward and don’t blame him for feeling that he should have the right to seek happiness, especially since he was tricked and manipulated into the marriage. He tells Jane that he intended to find someone he could be happy with, tell her the truth, and then ask her if she would be willing to be with him despite the circumstances and if he had done that, I would have even more sympathy for him than I do already. But the lie… that’s the sticking point. Jane asks him if she went mad, would he hate her and abandon her just like he was doing to Bertha and he swears that he wouldn’t but his credibility is all gone.

    Plus Jane was already struggling with his tendency to try to control her and use his wealth, position, and even his love for her to try to make her into something she wasn’t. If she had become his mistress, thereby cutting herself off from polite society and the scandal of it ensuring that she could never find another husband or position – she would be forever dependent on him and the power dynamic would have remained the same, if not gotten worse.

    Lastly, I hated the fact that he kept trying to turn her into an angel that would rescue him. Even before Bertha was revealed to the world, he kept calling her an angel and she kept shutting that down, telling him that she was only a mortal woman, no better or worse than any other, and not to put expectations on her that she couldn’t meet. And then afterwards, when he was trying to talk her into running away with him, he tried to justify it by calling her the good angel that could help him heal and overcome the past. And that is just not a burden anyone should put on anyone else. Even before Jane learned that Rochester was married, she was bothered by these things and she was right to be.

    It would have been hard to leave, especially with nowhere to go and no means of supporting myself, but I think I would have left too. It isn’t just the living in sin part, although that is sinificant – there was just too much baggage to support for the relationship to work at that point.

  4. I totally agree with all of you on the lying if he had only done what he said his plan was in telling the woman when he proposed then I’d feel even worse for him.

    I also agree with how much I dislike Edith pulling Marigold through those homes. The poor poor families that we’re getting attached. I wish Mary wasn’t treating Edith so terribly but she’s never been very nice to her. She’s not really being any meaner then she would usually, Edith is just suffering so cause of her secrets.

    • I don’t know, the moment the whole Mary and Edith dynamic went south for me was at Sybil’s funeral when Edith comments that there is only the two of them left and couldn’t they try to like each other a little better and Mary just shuts her down so harshly. It took it from a sibling rivalry thing into a bit of a bully thing. Don’t get me wrong, I like Mary ok but when she lost Matthew she shut down, even though she had a baby to take care of, but when Edith loses the man she loves, she expects Edith to just get over it already because Mary is planning a picnic! Ugh

  5. I don’t know if Rochester should of felt himself free to love and marry again. For one thing, he WAS already married. So whoever he went through the ceremony with would not be his true wife. He would be dooming the woman to the stigma of being a mistress. But, I do think that over the years he had convinced himself that it was justified. I also think that even in those days the mistress aspect wouldn’t have been as bad on him as the woman he chose.

    Some credit has to be given to Mr. Rochester for taking care of Bertha. While it may seem cruel for him to keep her in the attic. It was way better than an Institution. In those days, I am sure Bertha would have died sooner in an Institution. He could have put her in some obscure Institution somewhere and no one would have known.

    Would I have been his mistress or left were I Jane? I would have left. A woman’s reputation in those days was everything. She had no money except what a man gave her, no property except what a man gave her. The servants would not have respected her. Not to mention the fact that he lied to her. I mean think about it. She found out there was a mad woman living in the attic! She was very brave to strike out on her own with hardly anything.

Leave a reply