Bertha In Jane Eyre

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade October 2001

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Bertha in Jane Eyre is a character that is often forgotten and if anything is remembered about her it is only that she was Mr Rochester's mad wife. Jean Rhys after reading Jane Eyre wrote a response to it to tell Bertha's story, which she named Wide Sargasso Sea. Although the readers' perceptions of the character Bertha (as she is known in Jane Eyre) and Antoinette (as she is known in Wide Sargasso Sea) are different it is due to the strategies used by both Rhys and Bronte to manipulate their readers' responses to the different novels. In Jean Rhys' novel Wide Sargasso Sea the main character has two names: Antoinette and Bertha although the latter isn't used until the end of the novel, this is due to various reasons which will be discussed in this essay.

In Jane Eyre the reader is introduced to Bertha, when Rochester and Jane are stopped from being married.

We also find out that it was Bertha and not Grace Poole committing the crimes at Thornfield. We discover that there is someone else at Thornfield when Jane awakens and finds a woman in her room that "˜had never crossed my (Jane's) eyes within the precincts of Thornfield Hall before' two nights before she is due to be married. In Jane Eyre Bertha is seen as a monster as it is not her story being told, and all we hear from her is strange laughter and the growls she makes like a wild animal. The reader is not sympathetic to Bertha due to the reader's knowledge that Jane and Rochester's marriage is stopped because of the impediment of Rochester's first marriage to her, and due to this Bertha is seen as a hindrance to Jane. When Bertha dies the reader is gladdened by...