In Chapter 26 Jane and Mr Rochester were planning to get married. During the service we are told that Mr Rochester is actually already married. This comes as a big surprise to everyone including Jane. At that exact moment in time we feel most sorry for Jane. Jane has had a terrible life and this really was the first good thing that had happened to her. The build up to the wedding was slow and although it did seem to be leading up to something we couldn’t be sure of what. Since Mr Rochester knew that he was married, I think that he might have had an idea that something like this could happen, but Jane really did have a big shock to deal with.
At that precise moment in time, we sympathise most with Jane. We have no idea who the wife is or any background to the issues surrounding the first wedding. Although it does appear to be Jane who is in the worst position, soon enough Bronte is able to change our views completely. We sympathise most with Jane in many ways. I feel that the main reason is because of her past life and experiences. She grew up in house where everyone seemed to hate her. She was told she had no living relatives. They treated her badly and gave her no respect. They then sent her to a dreadful boarding school.
She wasn’t given enough food and drink and her clothing was poor. Many people died including her best friend. The teachers were mean and cruel, except for one. They humiliated her in front of the whole school when she really hadn’t done any thing wrong. She then became a teacher at that same school and when the clothing and food was seen by people outside of the school, alterations were made for both students and teachers. She then moved to Thornfield Hall which she described it as the best time of her life. She taught Adele and whilst doing so met Mr Rochester. He noticed something and Jane really did start to enjoy life.
All of that seemed to be building up to the huge difficulties that she then had to contend with the wedding and Mr Rochester. All of these things are enough to arouse the sympathy of the reader. When we hear that the wedding is not going to go ahead, in some ways we are not surprised. All of Jane’s past has been horrific and we never really expect her to find true happiness. It is a shame that it didn’t work out, but it just adds to her sadness. Bronte created her character and made her a lonely, badly treated character. All of these things put together really do make us as a reader sympathise with Jane.
Before meeting Bertha, we know that Mr Rochester has had a good life and putting Jane through this makes him seem like a bad character. Despite this Jane does not completely breakdown, and this is another point that I think Charlotte Bronte uses to make the reader see how extremely upset she really is. When Mr Mason tells the vicar about Mr Rochester already being married, and it is all confirmed, Jane does not suddenly break down and weep. She just looks startled and shocked. This is just like when a person finds out some really bad news, then sits for days on end in complete silence thinking and considering solemnly what has happened.
It can be any time after that you would breakdown and cry. This is clever of Bronte and really makes the reader think harder about what has happened and how the character reacts. Pretty much all through the book the story is told from Jane’s perspective and therefore it is what she feels and thinks. Thus we are seeing the whole story for a different angle – Jane’s side so therefore we are more likely to feel sorry for her as we are thinking about her feelings and descriptions. We know exactly how she feels but not so much how Mr Rochester feels.
I also feel that Bronte builds up the intensity and excitement to the wedding thus increasing the tension regarding what is going to happen next. In addition, it keeps our interest focused and makes us as the reader excited and wanting to read on to find out what happens next. Another event that happens is that before the wedding Jane sees two men standing outside of the church. We do not know who they are and neither does Jane. When we find out that it is not possible for Jane to marry Mr Rochester, in the back of our minds we remember these two men and link them to the scene.
Jane thought that something was not right but did not think any more of it. When the news of Mr Rochester’s wife is announced, Jane describes his emotions. “Mr Rochester, on hearing the name, set his teeth; he experienced too a sort of strong conclusive quiver; near to him as I was, I felt the spasmodic movement of fury and despair run through his frame. ” When she says this she makes him seem full of emotion inside and angry. Jane instantly knows that what the men are saying is true. I think that we feel incredibly sorry for her at this point . All of these things put together really do make us as the reader sympathise with Jane.
We have no idea who the real wife of Mr Rochester is, or why he should seek to marry Jane when his true wife is still very much alive. I think that what Mr Rochester has sought to do is awful and he should never of done it. Mr Rochester on the other hand we could easily despise. Prior to the wedding he seems anxious and in a rush. He hurries Jane to the church and tries to push the service on thus suggesting that he knew that the service might not go as smoothly as planned and indicating that he knew more than he was saying, possibly to spare Jane’s feelings.
A quote describing this rush in the books is “I was hurried along by a stride I could hardly follow; and to look at Mr Rochester’s face was to feel that not a second of delay would be tolerated for any purpose”. This really shows that he was trying to get it done and in a way it makes us feel slightly sorrier for him as we know really wants to marry Jane. When it is announced that Mr Rochester’s is already married, we feel more sorry for Jane. Following the ‘wedding’ Mr Rochester decides to show the vicar. , Jane etc. his actual wife (Bertha).
His past story of meeting Bertha and how she tricked him into marriage starts to make us feel sorry for him. The description of her is horrific. It seems really unhinged and animalistic. It sounds horrible especially the part where Bertha bites. We think back to past events such as the fire. We now think that it was possibly Bertha who did it. It was clever of Charlotte Bronte to put that in before, but now it all makes sense and we do feel sorry for Mr Rochester. We think about the burden that he has had to keep all this time and the secret.
We also remember when Mr Mason visited and got seriously injured. He got clawed but Jane and us, as the reader, never knew who by. Mr Rochester really did take responsibility looking after her and when he showed her to everyone and she attracted him he didn’t use violence to get her of. He begins to seem the victim in the story. It also explains his past behaviour towards certain matters e. g. insisting that it was Grace Poole who started the fire and not wanting Jane to ever see or visit the top floor. He enclosed the room with sheets and curtains. He didn’t want the truth to get out.
Another point that we think about is how Adele’s mother cheated on Mr Rochester and left him with Adele with no word or financial help. All these point combined do make us feel sorry for Mr Rochester. We thought Jane was the one who ‘should’ have been, who everyone felt sorry for, but Bronte changes our mind. We thought that Mr Rochester had had a really good life but slowly we begin to see that actually he hasn’t. He appears to be the ‘victim’ in the story (although we do also feel sorry for Jane). The past really does come back to haunt Mr Rochester on his wedding day.
At the moment we are told that Mr Rochester is married we feel most sorry for Jane. She is the one has been upset the most all through her life. Nothing has really gone right for her including the wedding. We feel that she has been cheated and lied to. We do not really feel sorry for Mr Rochester until the end of this section of the narrative section. After this I feel sorry for them both. We begin to sympathise with Mr Rochester when we find out about Bertha. By the end, I imagine that the reader feels equally sorry for both Jane and Mr Rochester and that this comes as a surprise, making the story more complicated and enjoyable.