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Funhouse Mirrors: Jane Eyre and Bertha Mason


Funhouse Mirrors: Jane Eyre and Bertha Mason

Tim Bartlett ENG 396 March 23, 2011 Funhouse Mirrors: Jane Eyre and Bertha Mason “Jane Eyre” is a book centred around female duality. In a time when females were still anticipated to meet their “womanly responsibilities,” Charlotte Bronte wrote an unique dealing with a female’s view on morality & & sexuality, passion & & sensibility, and conformity & & madness, to name a few themes. This concept of duality plays a strong part in the dynamism that comprises the book, and is not limited to the themes, however is likewise used to relate many of the characters to the titular Jane.

In “The Mystery at Thornfield,” Valerie Beattie makes claims that the character Bertha Mason’s insanity is a representation of rebellion towards the limitations of Victorian women. Not just is Bertha a sign of the Victorian female, but likewise a reflection of Jane herself. Thus, this reveals that not only is Bertha a personification of females in the patriarchal society of the Victorian duration, however so too, is Jane. As a child, Jane shares many qualities with Bertha, but when she matures she starts to adhere in order to grow in a male dominated society.

Bertha, on the other hand, is incapable of such reason and blasts the limits that bind her. Through the contrasts and similarities of Bertha Mason and Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte communicates a view on the position, and potential, of Victorian ladies. As a child, Jane shares numerous commonness with the character of Bertha Mason in relation to handling a male controlled society. Though initially Jane holds in her passions, in spite of her oppression by John Reed and Mrs. Reed, Jane ultimately asserts herself versus John in a physical and violent method. This is similar to Bertha’s violent outbursts and temper toward Mr.

Rochester and those inhabiting his home. In Jane’s case, the outburst appears more warranted; she is just acting out versus her violent cousin. However, when examined carefully, Bertha’s violent attacks on Mr. Rochester are just reaction from years of disregard. These conniptions are symbolic of the powerlessness felt by ladies in Victorian society. In this case, Mr. Rochester is comparable to the Reeds. Mrs. Reed ends up being somewhat of a support of a male dominated society; being delegated care for her husband’s orphaned niece after his death is oppressive to her (in Mrs.

Reed’s mind) and so too, is the rule John Reed takes over your home hold as the new man of the home. John Reed is also an apparent discuss a patriarchal society. Although he is simply a young boy, at the moment of his father’s death he became master of the home, controling his mother and all those that response to her. Mr. Rochester comes to not only signify the Victorian male, however likewise exemplifies the oppression incurred by spouses at this time. Throughout their fits of rage, both Jane and Bertha are likened to beasts. Jane becomes “like a mad cat” (p. 69) while Bertha is compared to a “clothed hyena” (p. 81). This association to animals is noteworthy primarily since males, who are viewed as more violent and physical than women, are generally the ones compared to monsters. This unconventional contrast brings about ideas of gender functions, and appears to suggest that Bronte felt females can be as physical and fierce as men. Beattie constructs on this, “in timeless horror films a possibly empowering affinity exists in between the female and the beast, allowing the articulation of deviant femininity” (Beattie, 1996). This produces another example of female duality between Bertha, the beast, and Jane, the female lead.

Bertha’s increasingly regular violent episodes result in her being locked away in a room where she can not harm others or taint the name of Mr. Rochester. Jane suffers a similar fate in her youth at Gateshead, in which she is separated initially in the red room, and then in the nursery, even throughout holiday celebrations. This injustice can be likened to that of women in the Victorian age, whom were still expected by numerous to find their place in the house and be content with that. Jane and Bertha’s rebellion suggests Bronte’s position protested this, and her endeavors as a writer and school teacher would appear to strengthen it.

Although Bertha’s seclusion is an outcome of her insanity and undesirable behaviour, Jane’s isolation appears to be the reason for some mental disorder, tossing her into a panic attack in the red space where she believes her Uncle Reed’s ghost dwells. It should be noted, though, that Jane is a child at this moment in the novel, with an active imagination. Bronte might be making a point then, that kids must not be shunned for their originality and creativity, as was so common in her day. Nevertheless, there is a fine line, and socially acceptable age, that separates a healthy imagination from insanity.

There is a clear absence of this knowledge in Bertha, whom does not appear to have a firm grip on truth. Insanity, nevertheless, does not simply deal with principles of reality in “Jane Eyre.” Jane has bouts of unmanageable speech, in which she needs to say what concerns her mind. Jane initially loses control of her tongue in chapter IV, in which she accuses Mrs. Reed of wishing her dead, and later on exclaims “I am not deceitful: if I were, I ought to state I loved you; but I state, I do not enjoy you: I dislike you the worst of anyone in the world except John Reed,” and goes on to assess the awful treatment Mrs.

Reed has offered her, and the absence of love and empathy she has been shown while at Gateshead. In this instance, insanity operates in Jane’s favour. This momentary bout of mania enables Jane to lastly reveal the discomfort she has actually felt because the reader is presented to her at the start of the unique aloud. Although she is initially remorseful for her speech to Mrs. Reed, she is later on applauded by Bessie for her brand-new ability to be bold, and continues to establish onto Lowood.

Bronte thus utilizes insanity as an incentive for Jane at this phase in the novel, and replaces its unfavorable connotations for “a power that recognizes wrongs and will act to ideal them” (Beattie, 1996). As an adult, Jane’s likeness to Bertha becomes more and more remote. Jane learns the significance of complying with the guidelines, and believes that in the end, determination and integrity will get her what she desires, even if that is simply the respect of society and herself. Bertha, on the other hand, is devoid of regard of self, or social conventions, and has no problems with blatant rebellion. These mindsets show the 2 sides of transformation.

On one hand, one might be rebellious and wish to create change through force. On the other hand, one could be true to themselves, keep their integrity and have faith this will settle. For Jane, the latter is exceptionally advantageous, she gets a delighted ending and the book is named after her. This doesn’t mean that Jane completely conforms to the expectations of others, nevertheless. Mr. Rochester pleads shamelessly for Jane to run away with him while he is still in wedlock with Bertha, but Jane responds “laws and concepts are not for the time when there is no temptation: they are for such minute as this, when ody and soul increase in mutiny versus their rigour … there I plant my foot,”(p. 408) denying Rochester, though she loves him. It would appear that the more Rochester pressures Jane to be with him, the more she becomes withdrawn, up until lastly, she leaves him, not to return until after Bertha’s death. Rochester has a comparable problem with Bertha. The more that he tries to impose patriarchal limitations on her, the more she revolts. For both Jane and Bertha, this rebellion versus Rochester represents the injustice felt by women in the Victorian age.

For Jane, it is the injustice of thought, for Bertha, sexuality. However while Jane fights this oppression by adhering to her values and compromising the man she enjoys, Bertha responds powerfully. This ultimately results in her death when she jumps off the roofing system in a last stand to disobey Rochester. It could be concluded that Bronte was promoting for one or both of the following: (1) that women must value free thought over sexuality, which it is more appropriate to do so or (2) that force is never ever the most suitable methods to achieving liberties.

Though the former is certainly implied in much of the discussion in between Jane and Rochester, the latter is implemented at the very beginning of the book when Jane is shunned for revealing her distress by hitting John Reed, but asserts herself and beats Mrs. Reed with a well articulate speech. For Charlotte Bronte, “Jane Eyre” was more than a coming-of-age love story. It was a statement of the battles of women in the Victorian duration, and an affirmation of their potential, not only within the text, but the book in its presence alone.

Being a female author in a male controlled market required Bronte to hide her real identity so that the contents of this novel would receive the respect it should have. To now analyze this novel with the knowledge of the context of the duration, it is clear why Bronte hid her real name. Victorian women were oppressed in a lot of elements that are taken for given today by women and males alike. To know a world where the thoughts and sexuality of ladies were oppressed appears unusual and scary. Alien, even.

Characters like Jane Eyre and Bertha Mason have actually been eye opening to this fact, and are at when both feminist rebels and misunderstood heroines. Functions Cited Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press, 1999. Print. Beattie, Valerie. “The mystery at Thornfield: representations of insanity in ‘Jane Eyre’.” Research studies in the Novel 28. 4 (1996 ): 493+. Academic OneFile. Web. 20 Mar. 2011. Fry, Catherine. “Jane Eyre and Bertha Mason: Differing Reactions to Patriarchal Injustice.” University of Michigan-Dearborn. N. p., n. d. Web. 20 Mar. 2011.

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