Rochester Accepts God’s Authority in His Life
Jane Eyre recognizes the role that Christ must play in Rochester’s life in order for them to be together again, Jane surrenders her desire to return to Rochester to God’s will. God then works in Rochester’s life, so that Jane may return to her love.
Unfortunately, in order for God to show his authority in Rochester’s life, Rochester must suffer, beyond just losing the love of his life. Although God does give him the opportunity to repent, he must first endure the consequences of sin discussed in the Sermon on the Mount, because he does not take the initiative on his own to follow Christ’s example.
When his crazy wife, Bertha, sets fire to his home, Rochester’s losses in the fire are striking realizations of this stern justice in Matthew 5: “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee….And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” (Matt. 5:29-30).
Destroying his home, the fire also physically injures Rochester in these two body parts that the scripture mentions; “one eye was knocked out, and one hand so crushed that Mr. Carter, the surgeon, had to amputate it directly The other eye inflamed: he lost the sight of that also. He now is helpless indeed—blind and a cripple,” and at this point, he begins “to experience remorse, repentance; the wish for reconcilement with [his] Maker.” Since Christ’s return and the apocalypse coincide with the whole world’s hearing of the gospel, Rochester’s coming to faith is not enough to bring about Christ’s return, but given that Jane is a human merely trying to follow Christ’s example and that her actions are held to a lower standard, Rochester’s repentance allows her to return to the circumstances of her old life. Rochester must suffer severely, both physically and emotionally, in order to recognize quickly his need for God, so that Jane can return, and then share her revelation with the world.
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The book of Revelation also has consoling words in regards to ‘people such as Rochester. Christ says in Revelation 3:18-9, “I counsel thee to…anoint thine eyes with eyesaive, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” The anguish caused by the justice of Rochester’s losses is alleviated by what he gains through his atonement with God and in the redemption of his relationship with Jane—she is both “his right hand” and “the apple of his eye.” While he regains the love of his life, physically, he is also partially restored. After he accepts God’s authority in his life, he recuperates and has enough sight in his remaining eye to be able see his firstborn son. When Rochester recognizes all these blessings, he “acknowledges that God ha[s] tempered judgment with mercy.”