How Does Charlotte Bronte Present the First Encounter Between Jane and Mr Rochester in Chapter 12?

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The relationship between Jane and Mr Rochester is explored for the first time in Chapter 12. Mr Rochester’s entrance into the novel in Chapter 12, unbeknownst to Jane until the final paragraphs of the chapter, acts as an interesting way for the reader to explore both Jane’s and Mr Rochester’s characters and Bronte uses this as an initial indication of the relationship that develops through the rest of the novel.

It is clear from the beginning of the chapter that Jane is frustrated by her situation within Thornfield. Whilst Bronte presents her situation within the household as one of comfort and that for many would breed contentedness, it becomes obvious that Jane’s passionate desire for more fulfillment in life, “more practical experience than I possessed” has caused restlessness. Jane’s philosophy that “human beings... must have action” acts as a precursor to the dramatic introduction of Mr Rochester to Jane.

Before the dramatic encounter,Bronte confronts the divide between the sexes in 19th century through Jane's maturing attitudes towards her role as a young woman within society; she challenges the idea that “Woman are supposed to be very calm generally;” Instead, Jane believes that women should be taken seriously “if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex”. These thoughts of Jane’s, combined with her obvious restlessness, indicate an immanent change in her position within Thornfield, thus building tension before her encounter with Mr Rochester.

Her escape from the mundanity of life within the walls of Thornfield comes in the form of a walk to the local town of Hay. It is winter at this point in the novel, and refreshing images of “the low-gliding and pale-beaming sun” represents a form of solitude not like the kind experienced by Jane in the novel’s opening, where she is isolated from the love and care of the residents of the Reed family, but one to be enjoyed. Bronte’s vivid descriptions and use of imagery...
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