Bertha, Rochesters first wife, is both psychopathic and a pretender at heart. Despite a history of mental illness in her family, it is clear that her behavior is premeditated. She seems to have a personal resentment for the people she calls family. This resentment is amplified once she thinks that Rochester is about to re-marry. Demystifying her character defects and uncouth tendencies helps one understand her role in the text.
Bertha is a clear impediment towards Rochester and Janes marriage. The two want to unite in matrimony, but face a vehement opposition in the form of bertha, Rochesters first wife. Coincidentally, Jane is Berthas attendant at the sanitarium. This accentuates Berthas psychopathic tendencies (Tressler, 5). For the two characters, bertha symbolizes the different social walls created that prevent loved ones from getting married. The social walls go the extent of developing violence, and sexual strife in the lives of those involved. Therefore, the actions by Bertha may be wild and crazy, but they symbolize a deeper social misconstruction of normality. Berthas history is shrouded in poor upbringing during her formative years (Deborah, 178). Due to the fact that she does not appreciate nor is she particularly proud of her past, bertha chooses to hide it from Rochester. Rochester walks into his arranged marriage with Jane without knowing that her troubled family history will come knocking. This shows that Rochesters description of bertha as a crazy woman is truthful (Bronte, 47). This creates a sense of trust in Rochesters assessment of her. Her brothers silence is also a confirmation of what Rochester says. This is because normally a brother would take any chance to protect her sister. However, Janes brother chooses to keep quiet because of his history with Jane. She has previously attacked her brother, which may have caused him to resent her. Janes influence on the people around her is one that causes pandemonium and confusion. This is particularly true at her residence at the Thornfield sanitarium (Earnshaw, 386). She is known for her fits of anger which result in destruction. Her caretakers have consistently referred to her as an individual with unpredictable tendencies. Most of the employees are disgusted at her scarcely human screams and noises. Her weird interaction and stares provide those around her with the notion that she has demons within her. While Rochester has his own deficiencies, it is clear to see that he has a preference in women. Jane can be seen as berthas double. This is because she too has her own tendencies towards self-centeredness and inconsiderateness. These are the same character trait exhibited by Bertha. Bertha has consistently influenced other characters in the text to become violent themselves. This is especially true when the employees at the sanitarium pounce on her while trying to contain her wild behavior. Her behavior has also caused people in the text to direct hate and anger towards her. This is especially the case after she attacks her brother. The same is true after she burns her husbands bed and destroys Janes bridal clothes. It could be argued that bertha has a medical condition. However, most of her actions have been premeditated. While most people react emotionally towards a stressful situation, Bertha takes her time. However, she seemingly plans her way out of most of her predicaments. These plans have always culminated in violent actions, a true reflection of a psychopath.
Bronte, Charlotte, and W. W. Norton. Jane Eyre: An Authoritative Text. New York: Norton, 2000. Print.
Tressler, Beth. "Illegible Minds: Charlotte Bronte's Early Writings And The Psychology Of Moral Management In Jane Eyre And Villette." Studies In The Novel 47.1 (2015): 1-19. Academic Search Premier. Web. 13 Oct. 2015.
Deborah A. Kimmey " Women, Fire, And Dangerous Things: Metatextuality And The Politics Of Reading In Jean Rhyss Wide Sargasso Sea." Bronte Studies 39.3 (2014): 178-186. Academic Search Premier. Web. 13 Oct. 2015.
Earnshaw, Steven. "'Truelove': Names And Jane Eyre." Bronte Studies 36.4 (2011): 384-387. Academic Search Premier. Web. 13 Oct. 2015.
Rohmah, Zuliati. "A Speech Act Analysis Of Jane Eyre." Language In India 11.2 (2011): 376-387. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 13 Oct. 2015.
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