Jane Eyre - Power and Manipulation

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“Jane’s relationship with Rochester in the early part of the novel is based not on love but control, manipulation and secrecy. She does well to escape”

On Jane’s first meeting with Rochester, he immediately asserts his control without Jane even realising, his whole presence suggests that he has a powerful awe about him. He broke the medieval trance that Jane was in, “The man, the human being, broke the spell at once” she was expecting a Gytrash, a mystical creature that lies in wait of lonely travellers to lead them astray, a metaphor for Mr Rochester, he may not be a gytrash but he is a mystical man that attempts to lead Jane into a world of secrecy and manipulates her feelings for him.

Charlotte Bronte describes Rochester for the first time as being “middle height and considerable breadth of chest”, he has a well built figure which makes him appear strong and authoritative.

Rochester plays a game with Jane on their first meeting; he does not unveil who he is when Jane indicated that she has come from Thornfield Hall, instead he quizzes her about what she knows of him ands what her position is within the house, she openly tells him that she is the governess. He then spends two minutes analysing her while he is sat and Jane is stood before him. This is a trait of power, she allows him to scrutinise her and judge her without hesitation, two minutes is a long time to be dissected by a man she has never met before.

Jane has no fear of Mr Rochester, therefore continues to try and help him, however she does express that “Had he been a handsome, heroic-looking young gentleman, I should have dared to stand thus questioning him against his will”. This shows that although he is asserting power over her, she is not threatened by him nor is he flustered by him.

Up to this point in the book, we have learnt that Jane has had no interaction with men, the only men she has known have been her uncle Mr Reed and Mr Brocklehurst who is the head of Lowood and he showed injustice to Jane by humiliating her when she first arrived at the school. Her meeting with Mr Rochester is her first meeting with a man who, as far as she is aware, is not an authority figure in her life but she still feels as if she needs to obey him. This is shown when he requests her to fetch his horse, “I should have been afraid to touch a horse alone, but when told to do it, I was disposed to obey”

Hi final statement to Jane seems like an order that he would give to a servant “now make haste with the letter to Hay, and return as fast as you can.” He wants Jane back at Thornfield quickly so he can act out the rest of his game, which is soon realised by Jane when she returns to see the same dog, Pilot and to be told that the master, Mr Rochester has returned to Thornfield with a sprained ankle after a fall.

When Mr Rochester requests that Jane and Adele join him in the dining room the next evening, he seems to have done so to try and humiliate Jane further. He has requested her company but ignores her presence when she enters, furthermore he asserts his authority by adding “What the deuce is it to me whether Miss Eyre be there or not? At this moment I am not disposed to accost her.” This statement alone is enough to make anyone feel unwanted and unwelcomed, Jane however is quite “disembarrassed”, she has experienced a similar scenario in the past with Mr Brocklehurst.

When Rochester does acknowledge Jane he asks her if she expects a present from him, which of course she does not, this may be an attempt to try and tongue tie Jane, although she knows very little of gift receiving she is aware that this social situation is not warranted for a gift and expressed this, “since I am a stranger, and have done nothing to entitle me to an acknowledgment”. Jane does not give Rochester the satisfaction of degrading her by accepting a gift of a compliment of her achievement with Adele. This reaction causes Rochester to continue his tea in silence.

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