Jane Eyre

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Edward Fairfax Rochester Character Analysis

The wealthy master of Thornfield Hall and Jane's employer and, later, her husband. Over the course of his life, he grows from a naive young man, to a bitter playboy in Europe, to a humble yet still strong man worthy of Jane. Both share similar virtues and seek their personal redemption. Yet Rochester errs in giving more rein to his feelings than his judgment and in expecting the world to submit to his will, as when he tries to marry Jane while still concealing Bertha and his secrets. In his distress after losing his eyesight, Rochester comes to accept his need of guidance and respect for God. His final strength comes from his newfound humility.

Edward Fairfax Rochester Quotes in Jane Eyre

The Jane Eyre quotes below are all either spoken by Edward Fairfax Rochester or refer to Edward Fairfax Rochester. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love, Family, and Independence Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Jane Eyre published in 2006.
Chapter 14 Quotes
I don't think, sir, you have a right to command me, merely because you are older than I, or because you have seen more of the world than I have; your claim to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), Edward Fairfax Rochester
Page Number: 157
Explanation and Analysis:

Over the course of the first long conversation between Jane and Rochester, Jane's feelings towards the man quickly become complicated. On the one hand, she does feel a real connection to him, and admires the fact that he is largely willing to chat with her as an equal. Here, though, Jane uses the opportunity that Rochester has given to her to stress that, for her, equality is not just something that can be parceled out here and there, as a sign of good will. If Rochester really wants to treat Jane as an equal, he will have to hear what she has to say on the subject of anything that comes up - including, here, gender relations themselves.

Jane dismisses typical assumptions made about the reasons why men should be considered superior to women. Of course Rochester has seen more of the world than she has, Jane says - she would never, as a woman, be permitted to travel around the world by herself, and even if she could, her financial circumstances would prevent her. Independence, for Jane, is thus not necessarily only a personal character attribute: it is also a function of luck and circumstance, and it has little bearing on true moral equality. 

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Chapter 17 Quotes
"He is not to them what he is to me," I thought: "he is not of their kind. I believe he is of mine;—I am sure he is—I feel akin to him—I understand the language of his countenance and movements: though rank and wealth sever us widely, I have something in my brain and heart, in my blood and nerves, that assimilates me mentally to him … I must, then, repeat continually that we are for ever sundered:—and yet, while I breathe and think, I must love him."
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), Edward Fairfax Rochester
Page Number: 203
Explanation and Analysis:

Jane has been relegated to a corner of the room at the party, where she can observe all that is going on between Rochester and his guests. Jane feels alienated from the wealthy, privileged women at the event. But as she observes Rochester with them, she realizes that she does in fact feel a profound kinship with Rochester, so profound that she believes he belongs with her far more than with people of his own class and social strata. 

Jane's affinity with Rochester is not one of rational, detached judgment, in which similarities and differences, appropriate distinctions and parallels, might be carefully considered. Instead it is something she feels emotionally. At the same time, Jane herself is careful to study and identify this blossoming feeling of love for Rochester; she doesn't get carried away by her feelings but rather respects their reality as she tries to figure out what it is that she feels, and what must be the result.

Chapter 18 Quotes
I saw he was going to marry her, for family, perhaps political reasons, because her rank and connections suited him; I felt he had not given her his love, and that her qualifications were ill adapted to win from him that treasure. This was the point—this was where the nerve was touched and teased—this was where the fever was sustained and fed: she could not charm him.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), Edward Fairfax Rochester, Blanche Ingram
Page Number: 216
Explanation and Analysis:

As a member of the servants, Jane is considered largely invisible by many of the guests to Thornfield, including Blanche Ingram, which gives her the opportunity to observe the woman and Rochester from a distance. Jane isn't certain why Rochester is going to marry Blanche. The reasons she imagines are vague and uncertain: this is too distant a reality for Jane for her be able to understand the motivations driving the upper classes. What she does know, however - and what surely is the one known factor that she can take solace in, now that she herself is in love with Rochester - is that he does not truly love Blanche, nor will he ever. Here Jane resigns herself to losing Rochester based on the social norms of upper-class marriage, but she does not resign herself to failing to win his heart.

Chapter 22 Quotes
I am strangely glad to get back again to you: and wherever you are is my home—my only home.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), Edward Fairfax Rochester
Page Number: 283
Explanation and Analysis:

Jane is on her way back to Thornfield after remaining at her aunt's deathbed, and she happens to cross paths with Rochester, who has bought a carriage, presumably for himself and Blanche. However, Jane is relieved to be leaving the still-oppressive walls of her childhood home with the Reeds, and she admits to Rochester that she is happy to return to Thornfield. Jane's statement would have been considered quite frank, even perhaps a little shocking, to readers at the time. To permit herself to share her own opinions, especially ones of a vulnerable nature, Jane pushes aside the notions of gender and social roles that require a female servant to remain meek and quiet, not speaking unless spoken to. For Jane, though, the realization that Thornfield has, strangely, become a kind of home for her is so remarkable that she feels the need to share that development with someone she cares about.

Chapter 23 Quotes
I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you—especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame.
Related Characters: Edward Fairfax Rochester (speaker), Jane Eyre
Page Number: 291
Explanation and Analysis:

Rochester has told Jane that he is to marry Blanche, and that he has found a governess job for her in Ireland. Soon, though, it becomes clear that Rochester's motivations in telling this to Jane are different. He seems to be attempting to determine what her feelings for him are, before he shares his own. If Jane doesn't share them, he has a ready-made solution and can send her away - thus ensuring that his social superiority over her escapes unscathed. Here, though, Rochester does make tentative steps towards suggesting that he loves Jane.

Though not exactly eloquently, he tries to do justice to the feeling he has around Jane, a feeling that proves to be almost too difficult for words. In general, this sentiment is one of profound unity between two people: Rochester feels such so closely tied to Jane that it is as if a truly physical bond united them. The book accepts that such unity can exist, and indeed describes it in terms of spiritual communion, which gives Rochester and Jane a religious analogy for the love they feel for each other.

Chapter 24 Quotes
He stood between me and every thought of religion, as an eclipse intervenes between man and the broad sun. I could not, in those days, see God for His creature: of whom I had made an idol.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), Edward Fairfax Rochester
Page Number: 316
Explanation and Analysis:

At first, Jane is thrilled by the prospect of marrying Rochester, with whom she is so in love. But little by little, the gaps between their social stations and their assumptions about proper gender roles begin to grow clearer. Here, another problem arises: the fact that Jane so adores Rochester that he begins to take on the nature of an idol, someone to be worshipped instead of God.

As narrator, Jane is looking back on her earlier self, and in passages like this, narrator-Jane shows a disapproval and even regret towards character-Jane. According to her Christian beliefs, only God can be worshipped and idolized: idolizing anyone else, indeed, is a great sin. In addition, putting Rochester on such a pedestal will prevent Jane from embracing her own independence, a value that she has held dear for so long. This disconnect between what narrator-Jane knows to be true and what character-Jane cannot help from doing and thinking will inevitably have to be resolved.

Chapter 37 Quotes
I will be your neighbor, your nurse, your housekeeper. I find you lonely: I will be your companion—to read to you, to walk with you, to sit with you, to wait on you, to be eyes and hands to you. Cease to look so melancholy, my dear master; you shall not be left desolate, so long as I live.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), Edward Fairfax Rochester
Related Symbols: Eyes
Page Number: 502
Explanation and Analysis:

As Jane reunites with Rochester, she exhibits a complex and nuanced, if not ambivalent, understanding of the relationship between love and independence - one that has been affected by her time at Thornfield but also by the revelation that she is now financially independent. Here, Jane calls Rochester her master, as she was accustomed to do when she served as his daughter's governess. As she vows to be his "nurse" and "housekeeper," she also seems to accede to proper gender roles and even embrace this role of subservience.

However, other ways that Jane characterizes this relationship transform her vow into one of a relationship between equals. To be Rochester's neighbor or companion is not to submit to him as a woman to a man, but rather to consider each person as mutually necessary and mutually fulfilling. Jane continues to rely on some of the assumptions of her time in terms of family and gender roles, but she also carves out a more unique, progressive place for herself and Rochester based on her own beliefs and desires.

Chapter 38 Quotes
Reader, I married him.
Related Characters: Jane Eyre (speaker), Edward Fairfax Rochester
Page Number: 517
Explanation and Analysis:

The last chapter of the novel begins with this famous line. Of course, the most significant aspect of the passage is that it underlines how, after so many difficulties and one frustrated attempt, Jane and Rochester finally end up together. By making "I" the subject of the sentence, however, Jane underlines her agency in choosing to marry Rochester, and makes the act one of independence rather than of choosing to submit herself to a "master" in another way. The acknowledgement of the reader also reminds us that an older Jane has been narrating this story all along, looking back on her earlier self and using that opportunity to pass judgment and to point out her own self-development. 

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Edward Fairfax Rochester Character Timeline in Jane Eyre

The timeline below shows where the character Edward Fairfax Rochester appears in Jane Eyre. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 11
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...the owner of Thornfield but the head housekeeper. She learns from Mrs. Fairfax that Mr. Rochester owns the place but only shows up intermittently. Mrs. Fairfax describes Rochester as peculiar, well-traveled,... (full context)
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...French girl Adèle Varens, whose mother was a French singer and dancer and who is Rochester's ward. Later, Mrs. Fairfax leads Jane on a tour of the luxuriously furnished house. The... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...away. On returning to Thornfield, Jane discovers from the servants that the gentleman was Edward Rochester, who has returned home. (full context)
Chapter 13
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When he learns that Jane can draw, Rochester is intrigued and asks to see her work. Jane's pictures show sublime and desolate scenes,... (full context)
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Jane mentions to Mrs. Fairfax that she finds Rochester unpleasantly abrupt. Mrs. Fairfax explains that Rochester has a difficult personality because of his troubled... (full context)
Chapter 14
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Jane barely sees Rochester, until one night after dinner he calls for Jane and Adèle to join him. He... (full context)
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Describing himself, Rochester claims to be a man of experience and unfortunate circumstances, hardened from flesh into "Indian-rubber."... (full context)
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Adèle soon returns, dressed up in a new pink gown, and dances around. Rochester says that Adèle reminds him of her French mother, Céline Varens. Rochester promises to someday... (full context)
Chapter 15
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One afternoon, Rochester takes Jane aside and explains his history with Adèle. Years ago in Paris, Rochester fell... (full context)
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That night, Jane thinks over Rochester's story and realizes that she really likes speaking with him now that he no longer... (full context)
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...retreating to the third floor. She runs into the hallway and sees smoke coming from Rochester's bedroom—Rochester is asleep, but his bed curtains are on fire. She douses the curtains with... (full context)
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Rochester, now awake, rushes up to the third floor. He returns and asks Jane if she's... (full context)
Chapter 16
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...morning, Jane is surprised that the servants believe that the previous night's fire started when Rochester accidentally fell asleep with a lit candle next to his bed, and that he woke... (full context)
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To Jane's dismay, Rochester soon leaves for a nearby estate to join a party of aristocrats, including the beautiful... (full context)
Chapter 17
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Rochester is gone for a week when Jane is upset to learn from Mrs. Fairfax that... (full context)
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...the ball and looks as beautiful as Jane imagined. The flirty Blanche hones in on Rochester and, taking a crack at Jane, loudly discusses all of the dreadful governesses that she's... (full context)
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Watching Rochester with Blanche, Jane realizes that she's helplessly in love with him. She sneaks away, about... (full context)
Chapter 18
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The guests remain for several days. Each night Jane has to watch Blanche flirt with Rochester, including during a game of charades from which Jane is excluded. (full context)
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Jane senses that Blanche, despite all her efforts, cannot charm Rochester. Still, she thinks Rochester will probably marry Blanche, perhaps for political or social reasons that... (full context)
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One day, Rochester is away on business. A strange gentleman—Mr. Mason—comes looking for him. The man's unusual, vacant... (full context)
Chapter 19
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...achieving happiness. She tells Jane that Blanche's dismay resulted from the gypsy's telling her that Rochester wasn't as rich as he seemed. (full context)
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...speaking, her voice deepens, and Jane suddenly recognizes the gypsy's voice and hand—the gypsy is Rochester in disguise! (For a moment, Jane had suspected that the gypsy was Grace Poole.) (full context)
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Though furious with Rochester for fooling her, Jane still mentions Mr. Mason's arrival at Rochester. Rochester staggers and Jane... (full context)
Chapter 20
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...rips through the midnight silence at Thornfield. All the guests run into the hallway, but Rochester calms everyone by saying that the noise came from a servant having a nightmare. (full context)
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Once everyone has returned to bed, Rochester taps on Jane's bedroom door and asks for her help. They go up to Grace... (full context)
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...Poole's locked room down the hall emerge "canine" snarling sounds and human groans. Before dawn, Rochester returns with the surgeon. They sew up Mason and send him away before any of... (full context)
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Rochester takes Jane for a walk in the garden. He tells her about an obviously autobiographical... (full context)
Chapter 22
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While at Gateshead, Jane gets a letter from Mrs. Fairfax that says Rochester has gone to London to buy a carriage, presumably in preparation for his marriage to... (full context)
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On the road, Jane unexpectedly meets Rochester, who's out driving his new carriage. Rochester begs her to look at the carriage and... (full context)
Chapter 23
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Rochester confesses that he has no plans to marry Blanche. He was only trying to make... (full context)
Chapter 24
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Rochester promises a wedding in four short weeks. After the engagement is announced, Mrs. Fairfax congratulates... (full context)
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Feeling like she's living a fairy tale, Jane is exuberantly happy—at first. But when Rochester starts lavishing expensive gifts and flattering compliments on her, Jane feels objectified and degraded. She... (full context)
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Throughout the wedding planning process, Jane resists Rochester's romantic overtures. To put him off, she argues with him and aggravates him. But even... (full context)
Chapter 25
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The wedding day approaches and everything is packed for a honeymoon to Europe. While Rochester is briefly away on business, Jane wanders outside to see the lightning-blasted chestnut tree. (full context)
Chapter 26
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On the morning of the wedding, as Rochester hurries Jane to the church, Jane notices two strangers in the churchyard. The strangers also... (full context)
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The stranger identifies himself as Mr. Briggs, a London lawyer, and reveals that Rochester is already married. 15 years ago in Jamaica, Rochester married a Creole woman, Bertha Mason,... (full context)
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Rochester is furious. He concedes that the story is true, but stresses that neither Jane nor... (full context)
Chapter 27
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...that she must leave Thornfield. But when she steps out of her room, she finds Rochester waiting for her. He asks her forgiveness. Jane doesn't respond, though she secretly forgives him... (full context)
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Rochester admits that he acted cowardly and wrong and tells Jane the full truth about his... (full context)
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By this point Rochester's father and brother had died. Legally bound to Bertha, Rochester returned to England, secretly installed... (full context)
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For an instant, Jane considers staying with Rochester, reasoning that she deserves a devoted man after a life of isolation and neglect. She... (full context)
Chapter 31
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...life is going nowhere. Still, she thanks God for guiding her decision not to become Rochester's mistress. (full context)
Chapter 32
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...community. She enjoys her new life, but is unsettled by persistent and stirring dreams of Rochester. (full context)
Chapter 35
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Yet just as she's about to give in, Jane hears Rochester's voice calling for help as if from a great distance: "Jane! Jane! Jane!" She rushes... (full context)
Chapter 36
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...local inn. Bertha escaped and set Jane's old bedroom on fire. As the inferno spread, Rochester helped all the servants get out safely. But he could not save Bertha, who stood... (full context)
Chapter 37
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Jane knocks and talks with the servants at the door. Jane then takes to Rochester a tray with a glass of water that he had asked a servant to bring... (full context)
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Jane updates Rochester about her new wealth and leads him on about St. John, jokingly using jealousy to... (full context)
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Rochester tells Jane about his new repentant relationship with God. He feels punished for his pride... (full context)
Chapter 38
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...chapter begins with the famous line: "Reader, I married him." Remaining at Ferndean, Jane and Rochester have a small, quiet wedding and live in perfect harmony. Jane never tires of guiding... (full context)
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Two years into their marriage, Rochester partially regains sight in one eye in time to see the birth of their first... (full context)