I stayed up way too late last night finishing Jane Eyre. Although I knew the basic plot line, this was the first time I've read the book. I was left with one big question. What did Charlotte Bronte intend for readers to think about St John Rivers? He gave me the creeps. I didn't get the charisma, but he certainly had some sort of charismatic sway on Jane. It felt artificial though, since I didn't share in it. Is that just because the author didn't do that good a job portraying that creepy (psychopathic) charisma or that times have changed and her readers in 1847 would have been drawn in? I did get the insidiously creepy psychological abusiveness. Jane didn't. On one level she was able to hold her ground and continue to say no to Rivers, but it was a close call. She almost acquiesced to his demands even though she knew he would kill her. Those were her words. I don't think she meant he would physically kill her, but he would certainly kill her soul and lead her to an early physical death. But even throughout the psychological abuse, she defended him as a great man. What did Ms Bronte mean by this? Did she want us to see him as the twisted nasty guy apparent to my 21st century eyes? Or did she want her readers to accept him as Jane declared, honorable and worthy? Maybe she constructed him simply so Jane could experience the polar opposite proposition as what Rochester asked? And as a symbolic plot device, he doesn't come across as fully fleshed out, three dimensional?
I don't know enough about Victorian society to figure it out. Guess I better surf the net for clues.