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The major male character in Jane Eyre is Edward Rochester. His is a history of sin and redemption. Like Jane, he matures in his own way. He is presented as worldly-wise, unpredictable and even brash.
Mr. Rochester has had a life full of struggle and is dissatisfied on the whole. After being tricked into a marriage with a madwoman, Mr. Rochester feels trapped. Then follows a life of dissipation and shallow affairs, which leads him to despise himself. It is after he has tried all attempts to find true love that Jane enters his life as the perfect woman for him.
His choice to bring up Adèle Varens, a child he knows is not his, shows his considerate nature and integrity. He ensures that Adèle receives the finest education and even takes a personal interest in her. In this he demonstrates that he can be a worthy father.
The relationship that Mr. Rochester develops with Jane brings out the best in him. However, as fate would have it, he avoids disclosing to her the fact of his previous marriage and his wife's existence. He foolishly hopes that Jane, just like the women he met in Paris, would be ready to become his mistress. Her rejection of him tests his endurance. After despair and remorse, he finds himself getting closer to God.
Although he feels trapped in a marriage with a deranged woman like Bertha, he does attempt frantically to save her when she sets the house on fire. This reflects his noble and courageous nature. Without giving a thought to his own safety, he rushes to the rescue of Bertha. This act certainly proves to redeem him in Jane's eyes. His reward is reunion with Jane. He is rewarded also by a partial recovery of his sight in one eye, and thus he is able to see his own son.
St. John Rivers
St. John Rivers is a tall and slender young man with large blue eyes, brown lashes and a high forehead. He is a devoted servant of God. He is endowed with skill, strength, courage and eloquence, which will serve him well in his role as a missionary.
In pursuit of his ideal, St. John suppresses all his feelings. He expects from others a similar self-denial. He rejects the flirtatious advances of Rosamond Oliver even though he himself is drawn towards her. He expects others to share his desires and work for his goals. It is with this intention that he proposes marriage to Jane. St. John is ready for a marriage without love, but obviously this is not acceptable to Jane.
Jane's cry for mercy does not penetrate the unassailable heart of St. John. He knows "neither mercy nor remorse." He pursues his dedicated martyr's path mechanically. St. John is the warrior-priest; he is as cold and inflexible as death. It is impossible to love him. Even Mr. Rochester in his devilish madness is preferable to this puritanical minister. In the final analysis, St. John emerges as a man incapable of serenity. There is passionate unrest at the bottom of his heart. He is like a statue of snow, with fire burning underneath. However, this fire does not melt the ice.
Helen is a young lady endowed with four virtues. First of all, she is determined to live by biblical precepts. Secondly, she possesses a great deal of self-knowledge. Thirdly, she is capable of remarkable self-control. This is evident from her advice to Jane to forget the passionate emotions aroused by Mrs. Sarah Reed. Fourthly, she is a young woman who is inclined to otherworldliness. She believes in putting the love of God before everything else. She lives up to Christ's exhortation: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all else shall be added unto thee."