ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Rochester and Edward - Part 3 of the Byronic heroes series. How are they similar?

Go here if you're looking for my post for the A-Z Challenge. Currently showing is Q for Queenlsand. Next is R for ...and you won't want to miss this personal anecdote...

And a warm welcome to all my new followers who have joined me here at L'Aussie Writing. I appreciate each one of you and have visited you if there was a link, or if you left a comment.

Now onto our Byronic Hero. Today we compare Rochester and Edward Cullen.

Edward Rochester, the hero of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre (1847), feels no guilt for wooing Jane, even though he is already secretly married. When Jane learns of the existence of the mad Bertha Mason, kept imprisoned in the attic at Thornfield Hall, Rochester says: "I am little better than a devil at this moment." He wants to keep Jane as his mistress, but Jane refuses and flees.

At the end of the novel when Jane returns to find a blind and maimed Rochester, he finally expresses some guilt that he is no longer worthy of Jane: "I am no better than the old lightning-struck chesnut tree in Thornfield orchard...And what right would that ruin have to bid a budding woodbine cover its decay with freshness?"

Rochester's guilt feelings are remarkably short-lived and he and Jane marry immediately.


Rather than being tormented by guilt, like many Byronic heroes, Rochester primarily suffers from the effects of his dark secret which renders him mysterious and frightening. Jane describes him as proud, sardonic, moody, imperious, morose. Just as Edward tends to brood, most often about how his vampirism will affect Bella, so too is Rochester melancholy, though he does not blame himself for his dark secret.


Rochester's isolation is reminiscent of Edward's ninety years without a mate: they both feel doomed to solitude. In Twilight, Alice tells Bella, "It's been almost a century that Edward's been alone. Now he's found you. You can't see the changes that we see, we who have been with him for so long. Do you think any of us want to look into his eyes for the next hundred years if he loses you?" (Twilight, 410-411.)

 Have you given any thought to the equation between the mad Bertha and Edward's vampirism?  When Jane tells Rochester about her vision of the woman with the "fiery eye", "lurid visage" and "gaunt head" who tears her wedding veil, she says it reminded her "of the foul German spectre - the Vampyre." Jane's descriptions of Rochester bear a strong resemblance to Edward - his "flaming and flashing eyes,: his "pale, firm, massive front: like "quarried marble," his face like "colourless rock," and "His eye...was a black eye: it had now a tawny, nay a bloody light in its gloom." Remind you of anyone?

Rochester tries to control the woman he loves, as does Edward. Citing their advanced ages, both Edward and Rochester often take charge of Bella and Jane. While Edward has ninety years on Bella (helped along by a bit of mental telepathy), Rochester says, "I claim only such superiority as must result from twenty years' difference in age and a century's advance in experience." Edward says: "I'm going to be a little...overbearingly protective...I wouldn't want you to think I'm naturally a tyrant." (Twilight, 328.)

Edward and Rochester feel compelled to confide in their love objects. Rochester: "Strange that I should choose you for the confidant in all this...(you) were made to be the recipient of secrets." Edward says: "Having you know about everythng, not needing to keep secrets from you. It makes me...happy." (Twilight, 344.)

There is relief for the Byronic hero as he unburdens his soul of terrible secrets: the absolute honesty that he shares with his love forges their unbreakable connection.

Here is a great blog post on the same topic. And here is another, specifically on Rochester.

With thanks to Nancy R Regin, "Twilight and History."





33 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed reading this. Thank you!

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  2. I had a cockatiel named Rochester once.

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  3. LOL. I love that Cathy had a pet bird called Rochester.

    Meanwhile, I've got a cat called Beyoncé... ;)

    I love your Byronic series! Makes me want to read all these books again. I really loved Jane Eyre, I felt so bad for Jane though at that moment when she discovered the truth about Rochester's wife.

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  4. Interesting. I have read, well, neither of the books but still enjoyed reading your comparisons.

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  5. What an interesting series of posts. perhaps Ms. Meyer didn't come up with such an original idea after all.

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  6. I got caught up with the last two and now this one. I think I need to read Twilight. I got caught up in the whole sparkly nonsense. I need to study this type of character simply because it wouldn't be my first choice and I have a project way down the road that might fit.
    Nancy
    N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium.

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  7. Isn't that Cathy a crack up! Yes, I can see Rochester as a great name for a cat!

    Thanks all for your comments. Will make the rounds.

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  8. Some day, I've got to read Jane Eyre . .

    Great comparisons though.

    .......dhole

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  9. Rochester's wife IS a lot like a vampire! Amazing catch!

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  10. Very sharp observation: the parallels between Rochester and Edward.

    As always, an excellent post, one that heightened my awareness of these two literary figures.
    Ann Carbine Best’s Long Journey Home

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  11. Interesting comparison.

    I adore Jane Eyre and am looking forward to the new movie.

    I must confess, I am not so familiar with Edward. At first I thought you meant Edward in Sense & Sensibility. lol

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  12. Ooh, sorry, I should have made it clearer, M Pax.

    Glad everyone's seeing the links.

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  13. I had never compared the two. Excellent post!

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  14. We had two small parrots once so I am partial to birds in fiction. Just saw Rio in 3D. Who says birds cannot be heroes?

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  15. Thanks guys for stopping by and reading and enjoying.

    Denise<3

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  16. This is a great compare and contrast you've done here. I never realized the similarities in characters.

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  17. Hi L'Aussie! Great post, the resemblance between the two is eerie. I think I know what Stephenie was reading now. ;) Thank you for stopping by my blog and for following. I'm looking forward to reading more of your posts!

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  18. Byronic heroes are fun to read about and lousy if you happen to be one! Hamlet pre-dated them all though. The ghost of Shakespeare made me say that. LOL. Roland

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  19. Never realized the resemblance because I still haven't read a single Twilight book nor have I seen the movie[s]? Eventually I'll see the 1st movie & I might read the 1st book just to see what the fuss is all about.

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  20. Very interesting comparison. I always think I must be a bit odd because Jane Eyre doesn't do it for me. I much prefer Villette which is one of my favourite books.

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  21. Now Villette. I must dust that off Helen...

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  22. Nice comparison between Edward and Rochester. Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books. I love how she's confident enough to say no to Rochester and sticks with her ideals.

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  23. Great post, I really enjoyed it, thanks.

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  24. Aubrie: Nice to see you. I'm glad you like Jane Eyre.

    Debs: You, likewise. Are you out of the shed for awhile?

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  25. Jane Eyre is an excellent novel and one I will have to reread at some point.

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  26. I'm really enjoying these posts of yours. I love Byronic male leads!

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  27. Lydia: Glad to hear that. Me too.

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  28. Thanks for these amazing posts, I enjoy reading it!

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  30. How interesting a comparison!

    I knew there was a reason I never liked Jane Eyre. Rochester used to drive me mental with his victim complex. "Man up!" I'd shout at him.

    Jai

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  31. Great comparison! Although, I only popped by for a glimpse of Mr Darcy! ;0

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