All throughout reading Jane Eyre, just when I thought I knew where this story was going a plot twist was thrown in to refute all expectations. The end of this story took me by complete surprise. Not only did Jane go back to Thornfield to marry Mr. Rochester but discovered that the house was in shambles and Mr. Rochester was disabled. This marks a huge turning point in the life of Mr. Rochester. He is a man that lived his whole life with wealth and power. He had the freedom to marry Bertha and then shun her. With his money had the resources he needed to keep her out of his life, shut up in a house he rarely goes to and cared for by a servant. Mr. Rochester was then able to travel the world looking for a “better” wife. Now Mr. Rochester is disabled himself and is forced to rely on others as he is no longer able to navigate the world alone.
In my previous blog post I wrote about how Bertha’s disability was villainized by Mr. Rochester. This turn of fate seems to serve as a punishment for the way Mr. Rochester treated Bertha. He treated her as less than human, locked up in a room for years, she must have suffered immensely alone with a mental illness. Now it’s Mr. Rochester’s turn to suffer in the dark and without the use of a hand.
“One morning at the end of the two years, as I was writing a letter to his dictation, he came and bent over me, and said—‘Jane, have you a glittering ornament round your neck?’…When his firstborn was put into his arms, he could see that boy had inherited his own eyes—large, brilliant, and black”Brontè 491-492
In the end, Mr. Rochester gets everything he wanted, he seemingly magically regains his eyesight. He gets to be married to Jane and even regains his sight in time to see his first son. I feel like Mr. Rochester was let off easy. He locked his first wife in a room for years and did nothing to ease her suffering. He searched for a new wife, even while still married to Bertha, and grew to resent each and every one of them. Yet he got to marry the love of his life and have the worst of his disability lifted before he missed anything too important. This ending plays into a common trope where disabled people get their disabilities lifted so they can have a ‘happy ending.’ This is exactly what happened to Mr. Rochester and after all he did, I thought this was a disappointing way to end Jane Eyre after the journey she took us on.