Flawed Hero

The term Byronic hero originated from the life and writings of Lord Byron of the early 1800s. A Byronic hero is defined as a person as perfect as a hero but flawed like a human. Edward Rochester, a Byronic hero, is capable of loving an outspoken feminist like Jane Eyre, because Rochester's imperfect attributes make the two equal. Rochester imperfections that make him a Byronic hero primarily revolves around his troubled past, outcast like personality, and complexity as a character. It is Rochester’s past that pushed him toward the lonely life of a Byronic hero.

Mr. Rochester’s troubled past sets the basis of his imperfect life. In the story told by him, he is tricked into marrying an insane woman to whom he does not even love. With Bertha as his wife Rochester is tied down by marriage, and unable to seek eternal happiness. To further ruin Rochester’s past, he learns of the lies and deceits made by the bride’s family and his very own. “My bride’s mother I had never seen: I understood she was dead. The honeymoon over, I learned my mistake; she was only mad, and shut up in a lunatic asylum… My father and my brother Rowland knew all this; but they thought only of the thirty thousand pounds, and joined in the plot against me”(330) All the lies Rochester believed would soon form a sense of distrust, as he grows more and more distant from society--shunning himself from society.

Although at a high social status, amongst them Rochester is an outcast. Through a large portion of the novel, Rochester remains a mysterious figure to the reader. He conceals a great portion of his life to Jane, such as Bertha. Rochester has a great distaste for normal society and lifestyle. Rochester does not marry another wealthy and beautiful female such as Lady Ingram, but instead confesses his love toward the penniless plain Jane. Both he and Jane think differently than others during the era. Jane’s feminism and Rochester‘s indifference separate them from the rest of society. Rochester outcasts himself from his former chained-down life with Bertha in search for a real chance for true love. “…I pursued wanderings as wild as those of the March spirit. I sought the Continent, and went devious through all its lands. My fixed desire was to seek and find a good and intelligent woman, whom I could love: a contrast to the fury I left at Thornfield--” (335). He abandons his wife in search for a new life. Byronic hero’s has the tendency to leave, and engage in widespread travel and face troubles. These hardships Rochester constantly endure, lowers him to the level of a real human being. A lady like Jane would not love a perfect hero, but a Byronic hero. The complexity of Rochester as a character makes him a Byronic hero.

Edward Rochester does not resemble a hero portrayed in fairy tales, characters who remain static throughout the plot, but a dynamic and round character that changes considerably. Rochester, in the beginning of the novel, when Jane first arrives at Thornfield, is cold and terse toward the young governess. However as the plot progresses, the more passionate and affectionate side of Rochester emerges. The Byronic hero completely overlooks his social rank and disregards other other’s opinion, and evidently falls in love with Miss Eyre, later, only to be devastated when Jane flees Thornfield. As a complex character, Rochester lingers in a constant unsettling state of mind. Many occasions, Rochester appears moody and struggles with integrity, another common trait of a Byronic hero. He loves Jane, however, remains unable to wed because he is still bound to Bertha Manson. “I keep telling her I am not married, and do not explain to her why. I forget she knows nothing of the character of that woman, or of the circumstances attending my infernal union with her. Oh, I am certain Jane will agree in opinion, when she knows all that I know” (328). Edward Rochester yearns for Jane’s hand in marriage and describe how even though he may be married to Bertha, he in truth does not actually consider himself wedded. These key occasions proves Rochester to be a complex Byronic hero throughout the novel.

As a Byronic hero, Rochester’s imperfect personal traits attract an outspoken feminist like Jane. Tortured by an unpleasing past, Rochester shuns himself from the world, expressing one trait of a Byronic hero. By loving Jane, a woman with a lower social status, Rochester proves to be an outcast, another Byronic hero characteristic. The complexity of Rochester and his constant shifts of emotions make him a Byronic hero. In the whole novel, the Byronic hero can most obviously noticed in Edward Rochester.