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ould a romantic attachment be likely between two people so different in age? T.L. Nichols, in his 1873 book How to Behave, advocated an age gap of about five years in favor of the man, saying that "The best age for a man to marry is from twenty-five to thirty-five; for a woman from twenty to thirty." He places far more importance on the social propriety of the match in term of class than in terms of age, saying "Happily the greater number of persons are too prudent to begin to love out of the range of matrimonial possibilities. Young women especially . . . seldom allow their affections to centre on those who are below them in social position." How To Behave does show how potentially scandalous Rochester's decision to marry Jane was — not because he was close to twenty years her senior, but because she was of a distinctly lower rank.

Content last modified 1993