Can Jane Eyre give Tempted in Twickenham some advice as she ponders the dilemma of a married lover?

September 14, 2017
Can Jane Eyre give Tempted in Twickenham some advice as she ponders the dilemma of a married lover?
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Dear Erica,

I’ve fallen in love with this married man and I don’t know what to do. He and his wife are separated, but he has not sought a divorce because he fears a long complicated legal battle over their estate. I know that moving in with a married man is a bad idea. But we love each other very much, and does a piece of paper proving he’s single really matter anyway? What do you think?

Best,

Tempted in Twickenham

Dear Tempted in Twickenham,

I wish I could tell you what you want to hear. But as Jane Eyre understood, giving in to your lover’s demands will only cheapen you in his eyes and ruin the long term future of your relationship. When Jane learns that Mr. Rochester is married, she is sorely tempted to stay with him and be his lover even though she wants more. But instead of giving in to his pleas, she leaves him.  She realizes that her strong values and fierce independence is what he loves about her and that if she gives in to him, he would view her with the same contempt he displayed for all his previous lovers.

She writes, “If I were so far to forget myself and all the teaching that had ever been instilled into me, as–under any pretext–with any justification–through any temptation–to become the successor of these poor girls, he would one day regard me with the same feeling which now in his mind desecrated their memory.”

When I first read this novel, I did not understand how she could possibly leave Mr. Rochester. Granted he was married, he had covered it up, and he was about to commit bigamy. But we’re talking about Mr. Rochester! Brooding, complicated, the ultimate romantic hero. He had good intentions, had been trapped by his crazy wife, and Jane and Mr. Rochester loved each other so much. Couldn’t they forget the fact that he was married, and just enjoy themselves?

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to the conclusion that Jane Eyre was right to leave Mr. Rochester and strike out on her own, poor and alone as she was. Keep in mind, Jane Eyre takes place in the 19th century, morality was much more stringent than it is now.  Jane Eyre’s heartbreaking departure from Mr. Rochester, while causing Jane great anguish and me(the dear reader) countless tears, ultimately strengthened their relationship. And luckily for the reader, it all ends well as they ultimately get back together. Well, she inherits a fortune during their time apart, and he’s crippled and blind from the fire that killed his crazy wife. So, it might not sound exactly ideal for her, it might sound to you that Jane is better off finding someone else. But, any true romantic will appreciate that he is still Mr. Rochester and a total babe(think Christian Grey in Fifty Shades for our more racy readers). And he does regain eyesight in one eye eventually so it’s not all bad news.

Anyhow, the point I’m trying to make is love loses its poignancy, its meaning, if morals and principles are cast aside.  I would suggest that you hold your ground and insist that your lover be divorced from his wife before you consider moving in with him. It might take time and it will slow things down, but ultimately he will respect you more, and your relationship will be stronger. If he is unwilling to undergo the legal battle to get a divorce from his wife, then I don’t see how you two would have weathered the many difficult storms that all couples face in long-term relationships.  Sit down, pour yourself a nice cup of tea, and good luck with your decision.

Erica