In Charlotte Brontes novel Jane Eyre, there is a slightly inconspicuous character that many readers may choose to ignore. The character that I speak of is Adele, the adorable French girl that Edward Rochester has taken as his own. While many people may undermine the importance of this character in the novel, it is easy to see that she plays a vital role in the coming together of Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre. Unlike many novels or stories, Bronte chooses to use Adele as more of a symbol, than someone who directly helps in the marriage of two people, meaning that Adele is unaware of her bringing her master and Jane
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Eyre together. The role of Adele can be described as small, and at times undefined, however, before all is said and done her role, or symbolism, as I see it is clearly defined. The first role that Adele plays in the story is that of a bridge between Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre. Had it not been for Adele needing a governess they would have never met. Jane had sent out her application to a nearby paper to be published for people needing a governess to see. The only reply she received was from a Mrs. Fairfax, a servant at the Rochester mansion. It was for Adele that Jane was needed.
Adele was rough around the edges, and eeded some work on the finer things of being an American. She spoke mostly in French, and therefore, needed a governess to teach her better English. Her master, Mr. Rochester required her to know how to read, and write in English. He also would like for Jane to teach Adele what she could about music and the art of drawing. Adele became quite close to Jane and enjoyed her company. Jane also became quite fond of Adele, a good example of this takes place when Edward wants to bring only Jane into Millcote and Jane desperately begs for Adele to accompany them.
Do let her go Mr. Rochester, if you please: it would be etter(Bronte 654). The affections between Adele and Jane become stronger to the point where Jane becomes worried of what will happen to Adele once Mr. Rochester is married to her or anyone else. Adele was as charming and innocent as they come, yet she still played other vital roles in the novel. For Mr. Rochester Adele was a symbol of the last 15 years of pain and torment he had been feeling. Once a fool in love with a beautiful woman, the less than attractive Edward Rochester found his soon to be wife a mistress to other men.
Mr. Rochester was deeply in love with the woman and believed that she could do o wrong. As if finding out she was seeing other men was not crushing enough, he comes to find out that the mother one Celine Varens, leaves a daughter behind that he believes does not even belong to him. Reluctantly, he took Adele in hopes that he would not have to be in her presence often. It was most likely unfair that Rochester treated Adele with such contempt, however it is not without reason that she reminded him of what a grave error it was to love her mother. The reason being that she reminded him of his lost love more than anything in the world.
She was a twenty four hour, seven days a week reminder of he fool he had been to love someone who obviously did not love him. For this very reason at times, he would shun Adele, try to make her feel inferior and unwanted. However, the good nature that lay deep within him would not let him practice such vile acts all the time. Sometimes, when he went away for long periods of time he would return to Thornsfield with a present for Adele. This showed that no matter how bad he wanted to dislike her he could not treat her like a vagrant on the street. She not only brought out the bad qualities of his character, but the good ones as well.
Although Rochester was always very ritical of Adele in all that she did, you could not help but notice that he had a bond, as weak as it was, with the girl. Adele referred to many times as a nuisance, was called on many times to meet very important people of Mr. Rochesters. One such example of this takes place when Mr. Rochesters suspected soon-to be wife Mrs. Ingram visiting for a fortnight. Adele is called into the dining room twice, and she is called a little doll by the guest party (Bronte 591). The fact that his guests approve of Adele provokes Mr. Rochester to remark that he did not want her at all, and was in fact left upon him.
However hard he tries to make Adele disappear, or make her feel like a nuisance, she always desires to see him in the worst way. This begins to weigh on Rochester and he becomes more prone to let Adele keep up her childish acts and even at times cherish her company. Another role that Adele played in the novel was the motivation for Jane to work hard and help others. Throughout the novel Jane is confronted with questions pertaining to the coming along of Adeles education. Although Adele does not always understand what Jane is trying to teach her, Jane is not flustered, and works harder the next day to help Adele learn.
In my opinion Adele symbolizes more than anything else an obstacle for Jane that must be overcome to succeed. Jane must succeed in teaching Adele and molding her into a fine English woman. Jane must also come to grips with what Adele is, and what she represents in the life of her beloved Mr. Rochester. Mrs. Eyre should not always see Adele as someone like herself as she usually does. She must understand the pain that runs through the heart of her master every time that Adele is near. Although Rochester likes Adele it is plain to see that he would rather not have to associated as much as he is with her.