The romantic novel is a literary genre which places primary focus on the relationship and romantic love between two people and must have an ‘emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending’. ‘Jane Eyre’ can be termed a romantic novel because of Jane’s deep attachment to Mr. Rochester. But Mr. Rochester is not a handsome romantic hero and Jane Eyre is not a pretty girl. There is a great disparity of their age- while Jane is twenty years old Mr. Rochester is almost forty.
The character of Jane isn’t the traditional heroine of the time. In many romantic novels of the Victorian era the heroine was beautiful. Jane is described by Charlotte as ‘simple and plain’. She also differs from the traditional heroine in her strength as a woman. Charlotte created a woman character that was equal to the male character. Jane is not equal in status or class but in emotional strength and maturity. This went against society’s beliefs of the time because Victorians traditionally believed that women were not capable of strong emotions.
Rochester is the husband of Bertha mason. As Bertha is insane he cannot divorce her. He takes several mistresses one after another but fails to establish any meaningful relationship with them. Then he falls in love with Jane and wants to marry her. When their marriage is to be solemnized at the church Mr. mason came to the church and accused Mr. Rochester of already being married. Mr. Rochester confessed and their marriage is stopped . Mr. Rochester then offers Jane to leave England with him for the south of France where they will live together as husband and wife. But Jane turns down the proposal because she does not want to be his mistress.
Jane leaves thornfield and begins to live with the Rivers. St. John who is much younger than Rochester urges her again and again to be got married to him. She refuses the proposal because she knows that she does not love him nor he does love her. Mr. Rochester offers her real love. She return to him and finds that he has lost his left hand and went blind while rescuing his insane wife Bertha. She marries him and takes the dominating partner. Before the marriage Jane was always maintained a subservient position to Mr. Rochester. However with the inheritance from her uncle Jane is now an independent woman and can take charge of her own destiny and even the destiny of her husband. As Mr. Rochester has lost his eyesight he becomes vulnerable and dependent on Jane. He can no longer maintain his former position as the superior male. However this inequality is resolved when Mr. Rochester regains the use of one of his eyes. Jane and Mr. Rochester are finally able to support a relationship of mutual respect and quality. Jane finds true happiness in marriage. One becomes the very life of the other. No woman is ever nearer to her husband than Jane is. She is the bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. She bestows all her confidence on him and all his confidence is devoted to her.
Thus Jane and Rochester no longer remain separate identity. They have merged sharing one heart each possessing the ‘bone’ and ‘flesh’ of other.