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by Charlotte Brontë
Mr. Edward Rochester Timeline and Summary
Rochester meets Jane and quickly falls in love with her. Someone tries to murder Rochester by setting fire to his bed and Jane saves him. Rochester invites a bunch of local aristocrats over to his house for a weeks-long party. Rochester pretends that he wants to marry Blanche Ingram in order to make Jane jealous. When Jane goes to visit her Aunt Reed, Rochester is reluctant to let her leave, but she gives him no choice. When Jane comes back to Thornfield, Rochester continues to let her think he’s interested in Blanche, and tells Jane she’ll have to get another job—in Ireland. Eventually, Rochester relents, and asks Jane to marry him. She accepts. Rochester tries to give Jane lots of expensive presents while they’re engaged, but she refuses. Rochester tries to marry Jane, but the wedding is interrupted by two men who reveal his previous marriage to Bertha. Rochester shows Bertha to Jane and the men and explains why he was trying to commit bigamy. Rochester tries to convince Jane to live with him in France as though they were married. We find out a lot of things about Rochester’s past: Edward Rochester’s father refused to split his estate and left it all to Edward’s older brother, Rowland. Old Mr. Rochester and Rowland developed a plan to make Edward rich: they arranged for him to meet and marry Bertha Mason in the West Indies. After he married Bertha, Edward Rochester discovered that insanity ran in her family and that she herself was an insane drunk who liked to sleep around. (At least, that’s what he says about her.) Rochester lived with Bertha in the West Indies for four years, but his marriage and life were miserable. Rochester’s father and brother died and he inherited the family estate. Rochester took Bertha back to England and confined her at Thornfield Hall. Rochester bummed around Europe taking different mistresses and living it up. When one of Rochester’s mistresses, Céline Varens, abandoned her daughter Adèle, Rochester adopted the little girl even though she might not be his child. Rochester got sick of being a party animal and went home to England. Jane refuses to live with Rochester bigamously and leaves him. Ten months later, Jane comes back to Thornfield, and we find out what’s been happening to Rochester in the meantime: Rochester looked for Jane obsessively for two months, but couldn’t find her. Rochester became wild and savage and sent Mrs. Fairfax and Adèle away from Thornfield. Rochester sulked at Thornfield, practically a hermit. When Bertha set fire to the house, Rochester rescued the few servants still living there and tried to rescue Bertha, too, but she committed suicide. Rochester was injured in the aftermath of the fire; he lost one hand and one eye, and he’s blind in the remaining eye. Jane returns to Rochester and they get married. After two years, Rochester gets his sight back a little bit. Jane and Rochester have a son.