Quote from William Hurt’s Rochester, which is actually directly from the book Jane Eyre, “You are not naturally austere, any more than I am naturally vicious.”

In the book Rochester explains that Jane’s upbringing at Lowood School punished her into being austere, and Rochester’s being tricked into marrying the insane Bertha made him vicious.

“I see you laugh rarely; but you can laugh very merrily: believe me, you are not naturally austere, any more than I am naturally vicious. The Lowood constraint still clings to you somewhat; controlling your features, muffling your voice, and restricting your limbs; and you fear in the presence of a man and a brother–or father, or master, or what you will–to smile too gaily, speak too freely, or move too quickly: but, in time, I think you will learn to be natural with me, as I find it impossible to be conventional with you; and then your looks and movements will have more vivacity and variety than they dare offer now. I see at intervals the glance of a curious sort of bird through the close-set bars of a cage: a vivid, restless, resolute captive is there; were it but free, it would soar cloud-high.”

But is this freedom all it is cracked up to be? Adele and her mother are shown to be coquettishly free and un-admirable. Was not Jane too bold before Lowood? But are the choices then to badly be onesself or to goodly squelch onesself? Is there no good self besides the negating of onesself? Perhaps when one sees another too boldly being themselves, they can shirk from such self-expression.

Rochester thinks he would have been a good man if he had better circumstances, but even so:

‘”Nature meant me to be, on the whole, a good man, Miss Eyre; one of the better kind, and you see I am not so…. You would say, I should have been superior to circumstances; so I should–so I should; but you see I was not. When fate wronged me, I had not the wisdom to remain cool: I turned desperate; then I degenerated. Now, when any vicious simpleton excites my disgust by his paltry ribaldry, I cannot flatter myself that I am better than he: I am forced to confess that he and I are on a level. I wish I had stood firm–God knows I do! Dread remorse when you are tempted to err, Miss Eyre; remorse is the poison of life.”‘

So now he sees himself as a sinner instead of a good man. Maybe some need to fall in order to gain humility? Was Jane, who believed herself good, unjustly punished into being better? If good comes from bad circumstances, to me it is Calvinist to say it had to be so, justifying the evil doers. To me it is more like God can (had to?) work salvation through this, but woe to him through whom it came.

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