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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: English
  • Document length: 1733 words

Compare and Contrast the Characters of Rochester and St. John Rivers

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Introduction

Compare and Contrast the Characters of Rochester and St. John Rivers Edward Rochester and St. John Rivers are both extremely interesting characters. They have deep personalities so that it requires some thought to fully understand their actions. They can both do the same thing, under the same circumstances, with different motivations and in different ways. Rochester was born into a wealthy family, of high rank. The Rivers name was also well spoken of and highly respected. Both men had highly intellectual minds which they sought to cultivate and nurture. Each, in their own way, thought themselves superior over other people. Rochester bluntly behaved in a proud manner, whereas St. John quietly held himself above others Rochester is an unkempt bachelor, owner of several estates. He is a globetrotter who rarely stays in one place long. He has a tendency to be loud and demanding. St. John Rivers is a handsome and well-kept minister in a small town who feels called to work as a missionary in India. He is quiet, if he says anything it is to the point and very clear. He is studious and very active in his parish. Rochester seems to go about doing things fairly spontaneously and very boldly, in an abrupt and selfish manner, without much thought as to religion. ...read more.

Middle

He informed her it was God's will that she come, and against what he stood for, used the Bible and prayer to try and manipulate Jane into going. Jane's first description of Rochester makes an interesting use of the concept of 'squareness'. She describes him as having a "square forehead, made squarer by the horizontal sweep of his black hair". Then " I perceived harmonised in squareness with his physiognomy". She perceives his nose to be a, " decisive nose more remarkable for character than beauty", which very much sums up Mr. Rochester as a person because he is not an attractive man, "very grim" but under his ugly outer layer he has a remarkable character. However, Rochester is not just a realistic character, he is also symbolic of the part of Jane that is fiery and passionate, rather than icy and self-controlled, and as such he is St John River's opposite. They look and act like opposites; Rochester is heavy and dark, whereas St John is handsome and fair; Rochester is a man of passion and fire, whereas St John is ambitious, hard and cold. Where Rochester brings Jane alive, she finds St John's passion quite deadly. Unlike Rochester, St John is not a sympathetic character, but he is still fairly reliable - he is quite honest about his limitations - and convincing. ...read more.

Conclusion

Rochester says, "Apollo and a Vulcan". In Bronte's comparison Mr. Rochester was the dark, selfish and manipulative character who completely wronged Jane. St. John was the light character who was the man of God, saving Jane from death and taking care of her. We find out that he was also selfish and manipulative but unlike Mr. Rochester, he was not willing to change and admit he was wrong. In the end Mr. Rochester was the hero, and in personality, he turned out to be the light character by repenting his sins and changing. Bronte showed through her comparisons the age-old lesson of not judging someone by his appearance. Both men had great spiritual problems in their lives; Rochester putting himself and his own happiness above obedience to God and St John putting himself in God's place, declaring that his will was also the will of God and giving himself great power in stating this. Their lives ended quite differently but both men seemed to have made peace with God. Rochester's life ended very happily for him after all things worked out for his own good, even all his physical ailments. The final passage in the novel are devoted to St John, who never married and Jane cries when she thinks how his path has led to death, in contrast to her own which has led to life-giving happiness. ...read more.

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