Charlotte Bronte was heavily influenced by Lord Byron’s works and even goes as far to refer to him in her book (the corsair). From this stems what is known as the Byronic hero. Through out time there have been many different characters that portray the characteristics needed to be called a Byronic hero for example Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. In the novel Jane Eyre, lays a character often described as a Byronic hero.
These heroes are often seen as rude, obnoxious and difficult to manage at times. They care little for etiquette and social rank. Most have a dark past in which some hidden secret lurks. Byronic heroes are prone to moodiness and are generally well travelled, while in their past considered to have been a womaniser. Most are not considered to be handsome as this helps the reader to relate to them. The character which seems to meet all these requirements is none other than Mr Rochester.
Rochester in certainly not considered to have what could be seen as good looks “with his broad and jetty eyebrows; his square forehead, made squarer by the horizontal sweep of his black hair. I recognized his decisive nose, more remarkable for character than beauty; his full nostrils, denoting, I thought, choler; his grim mouth, chin, and jaw-yes, all three were very grim, and no mistake. His shape, now divested of cloak, I perceived harmonized in squareness with his physiognomy. He has “stern features and a heavy brow” this adds to his seemingly serious nature.
This however is made up for by his charming character. Many of his companions are simply drawn to him, though they know not why. Rochester is considered a social outcast as is shown by the ill manner in which he hosts his party and his claim to rather be with Jane by the fire than at the party with his guests. When Mr Rochester in first introduced to Jane he does not enter gracefully as the other characters in the book have but instead enters with an almighty crash.
The “beast” on which Mr. Rochester rides with is in Jane’s mind seen as a “Gytrash” (a lion like creature). When Mr. Rochester falls from his horse he is reluctant to accept help but when he learns that this is not possible he states “necessity compels me to make you useful. ” It is made clear to the reader that Jane does not think highly of Mr Rochester’s appearance “had he been a handsome, heroic-looking young gentleman, I should not have dared to stand thus and question him against his will. When Jane mentions her position at Thornfield Hall he does not tell her that he is the master but rather prefers to have the home advantage of possessing more knowledge and not sharing it until he has the full measure of the person. Jane thinks nothing of their first meeting until she arrives back at the house to find him seated in the arm chair the following day.
Upon their first proper meeting in which they are introduced formally Rochester mood flips “he would sometimes pass me haughtly and coldly…. and sometimes bow and smile. In keeping with the Byronic theme, Rochester has had a flamboyant past, where women are concerned. This there for in later life lead to his having a ward, Adele, “the daughter of a French opera-dancer, Ci?? line Varens, of which he had at one stage immense feeling for and called a ‘grande goodio'” Mr Rochester seems to certainly incorporate the traits shown by a bionic hero. His past is littered with unfortunate events. The biggest of which, consists of his marriage to another woman. A mad woman. Who is currently locked in the attic.
This information is revealed at the marriage ceremony to Jane. During the course of the book Rochester makes it clear that he has led an unhappy life and now craves for some piece of joy in his life, this piece of joy was to be his life long marriage to Jane. However when his marriage is interrupted he is shocked into realising the error of his ways and how he had tried to commit bigamy. However there are certain events in the book that suggest Mr Rochester deep down has a caring heart, another classic trait of a Byronic hero, and has tried to make up for his past by taking up Adele as his ward.