Charlotte Bronte 's Jane Eyre Essay

Charlotte Bronte 's Jane Eyre Essay

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Incidentally, Bertha Mason also reflects a side of colonialism, though Charlotte Brontë wrote Jane Eyre two centuries after The Tempest was produced. Beginning in the eighteenth century, British imperialism led to more racialized thought. Furthermore, the Europeans came to view new lands as "hostile environments" (Charters 216). Bertha is from Spanish Town, Jamaica in the West Indies. Her mother was a Creole—a person of mixed European and black race from the Caribbean. Consequently, Bertha is half-Creole and half-white. Though she does grow up aristocratically, she is still marked with the stigma of not being completely white. She is even described by Rochester as being "dark" (Brontë 395), and when Jane describes her to Rochester, she remarks on her face, saying, "it was a savage face… purple: the lips were swelled and dark; the brow furrowed: the black eyebrows widely raised over the bloodshot eyes" (371). These features suggest a more racial, Caribbean appearance. When Bertha started to act insane in Jamaica, Rochester brought her back to Britain, because a "wind fresh from Europe blew over the ocean and rushed through the open casement: the storm broke… and the air grew pure… The sweet wind from Europe was still whispering in the refreshed leaves, and the Atlantic was thundering in glorious liberty" (399). Rochester 's experience of the wind from his home country suggests that he believes it is superior to Jamaica, a viewpoint that Jean Rhys supports in her 1966 book about Bertha 's early life Wide Sargasso Sea. There is a school of thought that "human identity might be determined by the politics of imperialism" (Lerner 278). If so, it is possible that with the pre-existing racism of the day that Rochester saw Bertha as less-...


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...ery and heightens how frightening she is to the reader.
The "monstrousness" of Caliban and Bertha Mason is complicated by their own similarities. Deemed inhuman and morally flawed, Caliban and Bertha are inseparable from their "monstrousness." They are exotic "others," from different worlds than the other characters around them. Caliban represents a fascination with the savage man of the Age of Exploration, though he is a remorseless, would-be murder, which also allows him to operate as an antagonist in The Tempest. Though less of an active character than Caliban, Bertha signifies sexual lust but also serves to foreshadow what could become of Jane Eyre if she weds Rochester. These two characters threaten the protagonists and societies of their stories, not only because they are frightening, but also because they are difficult to understand and impossible to ignore.

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