Throughout the 26th chapter of Jane Eyre, Rochester requests the floor to plead his case to Jane and attempt to explain his reasoning for attempting to take her hand in marriage while already being married. In this explanation he confides in her that he has sought the love of multiple other women, opting to travel the world explicitly in the hopes of finding someone he deems worthy of his love. His desire to seek a partner leads him to unique centers of progressive humanity, searching endlessly in the world’s largest cities specifically in the hope that these locations will bring forth his desired partner. Rochester rattles off a list of cities he visited, including Naples, Italy in this set of locations. As explained by scholar Jessie Feng posted on Omeka, an open-source digital collection and access platform offered by Wellesley college, Naples’:

citizens were able to enjoy cups of snow-flavored ice while basking in the sun and sweet Neapolitan languishing air. Despite the ubiquity of pickpockets and petty crimes, the atmosphere surrounding Naples was more sexually promiscuous than dangerous; instead of following the maxim, “choose one out of many for amorous play,” the Neapolitans preferred to discretely soften the rules, abiding by “change very often” instead (Feng). 

Contextualizing the urban scene that existed in Naples during the 19th century is mandatory for a greater understanding of the life of Rochester during his travels. Jane exhibits dissatisfaction for the previous sexual rendezvous of Rochester, no doubt built by her social habits as a member of the working class British. The social structure of Naples is much different than what Jane is accustomed to, especially when remembering her religious affiliation. Rochester, though he consistently places Jane in unfortunate situations, may have his actions explained away by his introduction to more progressive social institutions from major urban climates. 


Antonio Joli, Departure of Charles III from Naples, 1759, oil on canvas (Prado Museum, Madrid).

Feng, Jessie Y, and Jessica Metelus. “Urban Life in Naples.” Omeka RSS, Wellesley College,


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