Analysis Of Jane Eyre 's ' The Madwoman 's The Attic ' Essays

Analysis Of Jane Eyre 's ' The Madwoman 's The Attic ' Essays

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The reveal of the “madwoman in the attic” is one of the most famous narratives within Jane Eyre paving the way for modern contemporary readers to sympathize more freely with the character, not only with I later interpretations but with symbolic readings. Within chapter 26, after their unsuccessful wedding, Rochester admits to a horrified Jane that he has imprisoned his wife Bertha because she is mad. Readers only encounter Bertha briefly within Bronte’s Jane Eyre when she is in the deepest depths of her madness, having been subjected to confinement in the topmost attic of Thornfield and there is only a little to go on regarding her interactions with other characters. While it is arguable much more could have been done with her character it does leave it open for other contemporary writers to intertextualize the character, though none are as in depth as Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea (1985) in which Rhys explores the story of Bertha “Antoinette” Mason before she married Rochester, before she moved to England and her life previously in Jamaica. In the following we will focus reveal of Rochester’s hidden wife Bertha Mason within chapter 26 of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and to some extent the significance of Bertha within the story.

On the surface Bertha’s existence is seen as an obstacle to Jane’s happiness with Rochester and a scandalous secret shame of Rochester’s. A closer examination of Bertha’s circumstances and how she came to be at Thornfield can conclude that her madness is simply product of being alleviated of both her wealth and independence in the male-dominated society of Victorian England. Her regression into a madwoman due in part to her confinement is carefully surmised from Jane’s first impression her when she is i...


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...of the Victorian era and perhaps, in some ways, by having such a placid protagonist and a passionate minor antagonist could be reflective of the authors own conflict between submissiveness and rage. The madwoman in the attic, a phrase employed by theorists Gilbert and Gubar (Donaldson, 2002) as they developed an argument about what exactly the “Madwoman in the Attic” represented. Perhaps she embodied all the pain and rage that the author of the text felt. One can be locked away, hidden, diagnosed as mad, however, you cannot ignore the intensity of her character: her hardheartedness, sexual potency and mind make her an unforgettable character. Instead of doing away with such a burden of a person the character chooses to end her own life. If the madwoman in the attic was reflective of Bronte herself what might it mean for her to kill off her fictional passionate self?

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