Letter H #AtoZChallenge #JaneEyre’s Husband

This post is part of this year’s April Challenge to write a post a day. I’ve chosen to write about my greatest literary passion: Jane Eyre. Today it’s all about Jane Eyre’s Husband. Edward Rochester himself will tell us all about his life. This is Edward Rochester’s autobiography.

H

My name is Edward Fairfax Rochester. My honourable surname, dates back to Anglo-Saxon times. It’s etymology is related to a fortress, ‘chester’ meaning Roman fort in Old English. My family has lived in Yorkshire since the 12th century. My surname was briefly changed to ‘de Rochester’ after the Conquest, which was probably when my ancestor moved from Kent, where there were too many Norman invaders, to Yorkshire.

Battle_of_Marston_Moor,_1644

My first famous ancestor was Damer de Rochester, a brave soldier who had been struck by a cannon ball on Marston Moor in 1642, fighting for the Parliamentarians against the Royalists. My father used to say that was why King George, whom he considered a vengeful man, had denied my grandfather a Peerdom.

My mother’s surname is also of ancient Anglo-Saxon origins. In this case, the Fairfax were landed gentry who have always lived in Yorkshire. My mother’s older brother, retained all the land, as was customary. Her father remarried, when his wife died, and her younger step-brother, was later disowned and became a clergyman. My mother was rather fond of her little brother, so she insisted my father should employ him as vicar at Hay church, and when he died, his wife, Mrs. Fairfax, was employed as our housekeeper.

Mrs. Fairfax was a good woman who knew her place and never boasted of her husband’s relationship with the landowning Fairfax family. My parents cut off their relationship with the Fairfax shortly after they married. My mother’s family considered the Rochesters too fierce and warlike. I’ll admit, my father was never a patient man, much like myself, but he was an honourable Rochester.

Haddon_Hall

Our house, Thornfield Hall, and the nearby church, was built by my ancestors in the 12th century, shortly after moving to Yorkshire. Additions were made in the 13th and the 17th centuries.

The Hay district church stood just beyond the gates of Thornfield Hall. It was a small village place of worship, which was erected, when the original house was built in the 12th century. My grandfather renovated the older derelict building. It was the church where my grandparents were buried, where my parents married and were buried, and where my brother, Roland, was buried, too, in the family vault at the front of the altar. It was the same altar where I had stood as Jane’s groom, twice. It is where we christened our son, too. My unfortunate first wife, Bertha Mason, was buried anonymously in the graveyard.

This quiet, secluded place of worship, which would also be my last resting place, had been Roman Catholic before Henry VIII’s ecclesiastical reform, and although we had become Anglicans, not wanting to vex the King, there are still many reminders of our ancient religion, both in the church and in our minds.

Adele

I once confessed to Jane that I had brought Adele over from France when her mother died on the Roman Catholic principle of expiating numerous sins, great or small, by one good work. Adele was my expiation, and she was the person who brought Jane to me, so perhaps we shouldn’t have swapped our ancient beliefs so easily. In any case, officially, I’m an Anglican.

I was the spare, the second son, who would not inherit my ancestor’s lands. I hated being second best to my brother, simply because he had been born first. He was a whining, fair-haired and sickly Fairfax, like my mother. I was my father, and grandfather’s living image. I was the Rochester, but my brother, Rowland Rochester was destined to inherit what was mine. I realized I would always be the aimless and unlikely replacement to my brother, and behaved recklessly in my youth.

My father and my brother schemed to get me as far away as possible, out of the country, to be rid of the troublesome young man I had become. So, my father provided me with a wealthy marriage. He had an old acquaintance, Mr. Mason, a West India planter and merchant, whose possessions were vast. Mason had a son, Richard and a daughter, Bertha Antoinette. He offered thirty thousand pounds as dowry for his daughter, and my father signed the deal. I left college and was sent out to Jamaica, to espouse a bride already courted for me. My father told me Miss Mason was the boast of Spanish Town for her beauty, and this was no lie. She was a beautiful woman, tall, dark, and majestic, and I was suitably dazzled. Her family wished to secure me because I was of a good race, but they did not tell me the truth until it was too late.

Bertha

Miss Mason was Mr. Mason’s step-daughter. She was a creole, like her mother, his first wife, who was shut up in a lunatic asylum, and there was a younger brother, who was a dumb idiot. I soon learned her splendid dresses, and demure glances were a farce, because she had been familiar with other men on the island. I had been tricked to marring her.

I found her nature wholly alien to mine, her tastes obnoxious to me, her cast of mind common, low, narrow, and singularly incapable of being led to anything higher. In short, she had a pigmy mind. I found that I could not pass a single evening, nor even a single hour of the day with her. Soon she showed me her outbreaks of violent and unreasonable temper.

I lived with that monster for four years, on that infernal island, until I received news that both my father and my brother had died, and the Rochester Estate was mine, at last. I brought her back with me. Her brother insisted and what could I do? He reminded me of the dowry and I told him that it was insufficient for everything I had put up with, and still had to endure.

I made sure she was well fed and comfortably hidden in my attic. I paid a trustworthy woman to look after her. She had everything she needed, but her madness spiraled after our arrival in England. She escaped and tried to burn the house down, on several occasions

I could not stand living under the same roof as her, even though I never saw her, but I heard her. I began to abhor Thornfield Hall, so I travelled to the continent in search of a good and intelligent woman. Instead I fell under the spell of the beautiful but fickle opera singer, Celine Varens.

Six months before Jane arrived at Thornfield Hall, Celine gave me her daughter, Adele, affirming she was mine. I tell you Pilot is more like me than Adele! Celine abandoned her child, and ran away to Italy with a musician or singer. I am convinced I am not her father, but hearing that she was quite destitute, I took the poor thing out of the slime and mud of Paris, and transplanted it here, to grow up clean in the wholesome soil of an English country garden.

You see, my goodwill has always turned against me. I vowed never to become involved with a beautiful woman again.

Horse

One day, nine years after returning from Jamaica, I met a small, pale, elf-like creature who stole my heart. I fell in love with her youth, her naiveté, her quick, sharp mind and her generous spirit enraptured me. However, I soon learnt she was as independent and headstrong as I was selfish and scheming. I had to have her as my wife, not my employee or my mistress. I wanted her skin on my skin, our bodies joined as soon as possible, so I devised a plan.

I thought she was too young to realize she loved me yet, so I had to make her feel jealous,  I invited Blanche Ingram, a beautiful woman, who was the antithesis of Jane. Blanche was tall, with raven hair and dark eyes. She wore expensive clothes and jewels to catch a husband. She was also a snob and a bitch. I would tease them both nicely. It was a game for my enjoyment. I knew Jane would win. She already had my heart and Blanche was only after my money. I would never marry a dark beauty again, I had already done that once. I wanted a real, English rose, on this occasion. An intelligent, soul mate. I wanted Jane Eyre.

Wedding

After Jane left Thornfield Hall, when Richard Mason cruelly interrupted my first wedding attempt, the lunatic’s madness escalated. She succeeded in burning down the house, and when she went up to the battlements to throw herself down, I tried to save her. I swear that’s why I went up there, but she threw herself off, after burning down my ancestral home.

I had lied, and I had broken the law, God’s law and man’s law, to make Jane mine. I even tried to ruin her, by trying to convince her to be my mistress. I would have done anything in my power to have her back at my side, but she disappeared like a summer breeze. I became a desperate and brooding beast living in a decrepit and secluded manor house with two old servants.

I was crippled. On one arm, I had neither hand nor nails, but a mere, ghastly stump. My face had ugly burn marks, and I was almost blind. My eyes could only perceive a glow. Everything around me was a ruddy shapeless cloud, until a year later, when my fairy returned.

Mr. Rochester Blind

After the fire, I had a long time to think about my deeds. I did wrong to Jane. I would have sullied my innocent flower, breathed guilt on her purity. I began to experience remorse, repentance, and the wish for reconcilement to my Maker. I prayed that Jane would return to me and promised the heavens that I would be a better man. When she returned to me, I humbly entreated my Redeemer to give me strength to lead henceforth a purer life than I have done hitherto.

After we married, I recovered the sight of one eye, and learned to cater for my needs with one hand, instead of two. I held my son in my arms and saw he was a Rochester, like me, and thanked God for the second chance I had been awarded. I would try to be the man Jane Eyre deserved for the rest of my days.

I know some people don’t believe in me, and I can understand that. They think I can’t change, but I know I can. I’m not sorry for my past, I did what I had to do. I was a reckless youth and I married the wrong woman, but I was misled by my father and enticed by selfish women. None of it was my fault.

I’m only sorry for the unjust way I treated Jane. You may think I’m not good enough for Jane, and that’s true, too, but I’m going to try to be a better man for her. I will not go back to my gallivanting ways and I will never hurt her again.

Jane3

Dear Reader, do you believe him?

Letter F #AtoZChallenge #JaneEyre’s Friends

This post is part of this year’s April Challenge to write a post a day. I’ve chosen to write about my greatest literary passion: Jane Eyre. Today it’s all about Jane Eyre’s Friends. Jane will tell us all about her friends in her own words.

F

A friend is someone you can trust and a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, usually exclusive of intimate or family relations. You must both enjoy each others’ company and support each other, too.

I have had very few friends in my life. While I was living with my Aunt Reed, there was only one person, Bessie, their young servant, whom I could call a friend. She told me stories by the stove in the kitchen, looked after me when I was ill, and consoled me when I was depressed. Betty once told me, when I was sick and sad that, ‘God is a friend to the poor orphan child.’ She was the only person I missed at that cold house.

When I was at Lowood, I had some more friends. Helen Burns, a young girl my own age, whose family were from Northumberland. Her mother had died, and her father had remarried a young girl, who did not care for Helen, so she was sent to Lowood.

halen and jane

Helen sustained me during the first months in my new home, when I frequently cried. She did not vex me with questions. Helen was patient, sitting beside me, and remaining silent until I was ready to speak.

When I told her I was sad because Mr. Brocklehurst had humiliated me, she chastised me for being too impulsive, too vehement, and too feeble. She reminded me that there were guardian angels to help us, and that I should not let hatred get the better of me. Helen had calmed me, and comforted me. I used to rest my head on her shoulder, put my arms round her waist, and feel grateful that I had a real true friend, at last.

Helen was faithful, and never ill-humoured with anyone, however unpleasantly they treated her. She believed her strength and endurance would lead her into heaven, when her time on Earth was over.

She was called to heaven too soon, too young. Miss Temple found her in my arms one sad June morning. My face against Helen Burns’s shoulder, and my arms round her neck. I was asleep, and Helen was dead.

Even while she was dying, her last words had been to comfort me. She told me not to grieve because she was not in pain, and she did not mind dying, because it meant that she would escape the great sufferings life would bring her, and because she would be united with God, who would look after her.

She was buried at Brocklehurst Churchyard. , covered by a grassy mound. Fifteen years after her death, I returned to find a grassy mound. I had a grey marble tablet placed on the spot, inscribed with her name, and the word ‘Resurgam.’

Helen Burns Resurgam

I made other friends at Lowood. I often took walks in the woods in summer with Mary Ann, I tried my best to make friends, earn respect and win affection at Lowood. I was also well received by my fellow-pupils. Those my own age treated me as an equal, and I wasn’t not molested by any. However, I never had a friend like Helen again. If I have a daughter, I’ll certainly call her Helen.

Miss Miller and Miss Temple were pleased with me because I was a good student who pleased my teacher by reaching the head of my class.

Miss Temple

I also considered Miss Temple, who had become the superintendent at the seminary, a friend because she was my counsellor and guide while I was at Lowood. I owe the best part of my acquirements to her. She encouraged me in my studies, and her friendship and company had been my greatest comfort. She was the closest I have ever had to a mother figure, so I will never forget her either. I became a teacher thanks to her encouragement and direction.

I was devastated when she left to marry and move to a distant country. It was then I advertised for the position of governess.

I got on very well with all the servants at Thornfield Hall. Mrs. Fairfax always treated me with friendliness, and so did Leah, the young maid, and even Sophie, Adele’s French nurse.

Jane and Adele

Adele was my boisterous pupil, although she did not excel in her studies, she tried hard. She was always kind and respectful to me. When I married Edward I took her out of her strict boarding school, where Edward had sent her when I left. She stayed at home, for a time, until I found her a more indulgent school. We have become good friends over the years. Adele is a pleasing and obliging companion: docile, good-tempered, and well-principled.

Jane and Rochester friends

Mr. Rochester professed to be my friend, before he declared his love. He used to call me ‘my little friend’ and confessed many events to me, such as his relationship with Adele’s mother, the French opera singer, Celine Varens, and his wild years as a bachelor. I saved his life from a fire in his room one night, and he also called me when his friend, Mr. Mason was attacked in the attic. We enjoyed each other’s company and discussed many matters. Although he was my master, we were friends of a sort, at first, until we fell in love. Then friendship became something more powerful and absorbing.

When I left Eyre Hall, after discovering Mr. Rochester was already married, I had absolutely no friends, no family, and not a single shilling to my name.

Jane Mary Diana

I was fortunate to find the Rivers in Morton. Diana, Mary, and St. John, were kind to me, before they knew I was their cousin. I was starving, cold, sick, and penniless, when I arrived on their doorstep in search of charity. They took me into their home, nursed me, fed me, and found me a job as a teacher and a small house to live in. I thank God he helped me find them when I was close to death.

I have not felt the need for friends since I married Edward, because he is everything to me. He is my husband, my companion, my lover, and my friend.

Jane and Edward

Meet The Main Characters in Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall

Three Days to Book Launch

Main Characters in Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall

Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall is the second volume in the sequel to Jane Eyre. Some of the main characters in this novel also appeared in Charlotte Bronte’s original novel, nevertheless, I have moved them on 22 years. I have developed their characters, reinventing them at a later stage in their lives. Other characters are my own creation.

Characters mentioned in Jane Eyre:

Jane Eyre, Richard Mason, Leah, Admiral Fitzjames (he was captain in Jane Eyre), Mrs. Diana Fitzjames, Adele Varens, Bertha Mason, Dr. Carter.

Characters of my own creation:

John Eyre Rochester, Michael and Susan Kirkpatrick, Annette Mason, ‘young’ Dr. Carter, Captain Carrington, Mr. Greenwood, Dante Greenwood, Nell Rosset, Jenny Rosset, Phoebe, Simon and Beth.

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Jane Eyre. Jane is no longer a nineteen-year-old naïve and young girl. She is a mature woman in her early forties. She is involved in social work, mainly with orphans and parish schools. She writes novels, much like Charlotte Bronte did, and manages the Rochester estate. She had been married to Mr. Rochester for over 20 years, and had one son and several miscarriages. There were many ups and downs in the marriage, which ended with Edward Rochester’s death in book 1, All Hallows at Eyre Hall. The end of book one left Jane in a state of confusion, depression and physical illness. Her husband had died, she was blackmailed into marrying Mr. Mason, her husband’s brother-in-law, she suffered yet another miscarriage, and the man she thought she loved left her. She is gradually recovering her physical and mental stability.

Mr. Mason. Richard Mason was Mr. Rochester’s greedy and evil brother-in-law. He was Bertha Mason’s brother. Bertha Mason was Mr. Rochester’s first mad wife. Richard returned from Jamaica with Miss Annette Mason, Bertha’s secret daughter (Book 1). Jane married him because he promised to hide Mr. Rochester’s secrets from young John Eyre Rochester.

Annette Mason. She was born in Thornfield Hall from an unknown father, while her mother, Bertha Mason, was married to Edward Rochester and locked in his attic. Her uncle, Richard Mason, took Annette back with him to Jamaica, where she was brought up in a convent, as an orphan, supervised by her uncle. Her uncle brought her back to England to claim her birthright when Mr. Rochester died (book 1). She is living at Eyre Hall as Jane’s ward.

John Rochester. He is Jane and Rochester’s son. He is headstrong, spoilt, and rich. He is in love with Annette, whom he believes is his cousin. He had accepted an arranged marriage of convenience, but his fiancée died, and now Jane is trying to convince him to marry her flirtatious younger sister, Phoebe. He is studying Law at Oxford.

Michael Kirkpatrick. In book 1, he was Jane’s faithful valet, but he left when she accepted Mr. Mason’s proposal, because he was in love with Jane. He joined the Royal Navy and is promoted to lieutenant by Captain Carrington. In book 2 he returns to Eyre Hall to help his sister, Susan, who also works for the Rochester family.

Captain Carrington is Michael’s captain on board the HMS Princess Helena. He is a father-figure to Michael, whose father was killed at sea when he was a child. He was captain to Admiral Fitzjames, who is married to Jane’s cousin, Diana.

Nell Rosset. Nell is a lively, young girl who is Jane’s companion throughout her illness. She reads to her and walks with her. Her mother, Jenny, is a seamstress at Eyre Hall and Mr. Mason’s mistress.

Adele Varens was Mr. Rochester’s ward. Jane Eyre was first employed at Thornfield Hall as her governess. Her mother, Céline Varens, was Mr. Rochester’s mistress in France, for a time. He always denied being her father. She was a spinster, who now has a widowed suitor, the poet, Mr. Greenwood. They have been living in Venice for the past year with Mr. Greenwood’s young son, Dante. Susan, Michael’s sister, has accompanied Adele as her maid and companion. Adele and Mr. Greenwood are soon to be married.

‘Young’ Dr. Carter is Dr. Carter’s son. He is an intelligent young man, who has taken over his father’s practice in the area, with modern ideas on medicine. He is living at Ferndean, a manor house on the Rochester Estate, with his mother.

Mrs. Leah is the housekeeper at Eyre Hall. She also worked at Thornfield Hall before Jane Eyre arrived. She is the only living person who knows everything about the Rochester family, including their secrets.

 Simon and Beth are two loyal servants at Eyre Hall who are in a relationship.

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Would you like to know anything else about any of these characters?

For those of you who have read book one or two, which is your favourite character, and why?