An examination of Bertha's role in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre in the context of feminism and patriarchy.

Essay by gobrillaCollege, UndergraduateA+, March 2004

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Jane, Bertha, Mr. Rochester and Evil.

"It drew aside the window-curtain and looked out; perhaps it saw dawn approaching, for taking the candle, it retreated to the door. Just at my bedside the figure stopped: fiery eyes glared upon me--she thrust up her candle close to my face, and extinguished it under my eyes. I was aware her lurid visage flamed over mine, and I lost consciousness."

In this passage Jane tells the story of Bertha's uninvited entrance into her room one night. This short passage is exemplary of the constant likening of Bertha to something inhuman and monstrous in order to justify Rochester and his evil deed, and Jane's relationship with Rochester The passage also, in the language used likens Bertha to Rochester himself and loosely parallels the relationship between Jane and Rochester through most of the novel.

The first word found in the passage is "It". "It" refers not to an object but to Bertha herself.

Jane, by using this word instead of "she", has de-humanized Bertha. She speaks of Bertha as a monster and states, "perhaps it saw dawn approaching, retreated" this reference to the fear of daylight connotes vampires, wherewolves and other such nocturnal monsters, thus further creating an image of a beast in place of a suffering woman.

Bertha, once deemed insane, was locked inside a tiny room. "(since the medical men had pronounced her mad, she had, of course, been shut up.)" p.292. This is stated simply and the term "of course" puts the humanity of the act out of question for the remainder of the book. It is stated that to lock a mad woman up in a tiny room with little to no human contact for more than a decade is only the most reasonable thing to do. The cruelty...