A to Z challenge · The stories we read

Rochester

  
I was going to write about the infamous Toad from The Wind in the Willows, but as it turned out, I found another character to write about for the letter T. This was still problematic. I wanted to feature someone like Toad-arrogant, self-absorbed, yet still the hero of the story, whose transformation (or lack thereof) makes him a remarkable character. Edward Fairfax Rochester soon came to mind as the perfect choice. In case you haven’t read Jane Eyre, both human and amphibian share a few qualities. To elaborate: they’re both self-assured in many ways, grasping what they want with little regard as to the consequences, recklessly even, and they both (spoiler alert!) must lose their grand homes before they can fully see themselves as they are and who they must be instead. So, Rochester, you’ll have to share the spotlight with a toad, but you’ll be all the better for it. Take my word.

  
(Another spoiler alert: if you’ve never read Jane Eyre (which you are going to remedy asap), this post gives quite a bit away.)

In Jane Eyre, Rochester determines to make Jane his own. Only he knows the external impediments to this; he is terrified because they are, to an extent, out of his control. He is used to bending others to his will (hence, arranging circumstances in an attempt to make Jane jealous and therefore more in love with him). Inability to control his own fate terrifies him. He sees in Jane the chance of redemption, in essence, a chance to change his future. But it is his control and manipulation that stands between them. He must be humbled, brought low, respond with true sacrifice to circumstances that are beyond his control and have no possibility of rewarding him (e.i., trying to rescue Bertha from the fire). As he bears the devastating results of his heroic act with acceptance rather than fight, he is finally able to love Jane as he should: by giving her the respect she deserves as a free being, an individual with feelings and desires, not as someone he manipulates and uses.

So wait a moment. Perhaps Rochester’s similarities to Toad are not much more after all than what was previously listed. Rochester engages in reckless behavior in a mad effort to regain control over his life; Toad seeks thrill after thrill because he hates to be bored, trapped.  Rochester is consumed with his trajectory and the directing of it; Toad simply leaps from one experience to the next without thought for his future. Reckless behavior for different reasons. That explains why Rochester fits the type 8 profile and Toad, type 7, of the Enneagram theory. Which means Toad has more in common with this guy:

  

 
See, Rochester? Toad is more like the restless, self-centered “laser-brained nerf-herder” than you, after all. I guess you don’t have to share the spotlight in this post after all…well, not much, anyway. Now all of you, go learn from your lives: sacrifice, be courageous, experience joy and gratitude. 

And thanks for being such fun subjects of my newest obsession-Enneagram personality profiling.

 

 

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