Jane Eyre

Powerful Essays
Jane Eyre and the Lovemad Woman

I was experiencing an ordeal: a hand of fiery iron grasped my vitals. Terrible moment: full of struggle blackness, burning! No human being that ever lived could wish to be loved better then I was loved; and him who thus loved me I absolutely worshipped: and I must renounce love and idol. (311; ch. 27)

Jane Eyre’s inner struggle over leaving an already married Rochester is the epitome of the new "lovemad" woman in nineteenth-century literature. Jane Eyre is the story of a lovemad woman who has two parts to her personality (herself and Bertha Mason) to accommodate this madness. Charlotte Bronte takes the already used character of the lovemad woman and uses her to be an outlet for the confinement that comes from being in a male-dominated society. Jane has to control this madness, whereas the other part of her personality, her counterpart, Bertha Mason, is able to express her rage at being caged up. As what it means to be insane was changing during Bronte’s time, Bronte changed insanity in literature so that it is made not to be a weakness but rather a form of rebellion. Jane ultimately is able to overcome her lovemadness through sheer force of her will.

As a proponent of the lovemad woman Charlotte Bronte can be looked at closely and be seen as almost lovemad herself. Bronte did not have the love of her mother, who died at an early age. Though she had her sisters, brother and father, Charlotte seemed to lacking love. Through her "affair" with Monsieur Heger, Charlotte seems to be able to fit the definition of the lovemad woman. While away at school Charlotte developed an attachment to one of her teachers which sources vary as whether or not this lead to an attachment. As an already mar...

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...Bronte was able to do: she took the old character of the lovemad woman, who can be seen as the prototype for the weak, dependent female, and made her to be an object of rebellion. She used this madness to show that women have feelings worth showing, and that if they do show their true emotions, they too can have the happy ending.

Works Cited

Gilbert, Sandra, and Susan Gubar. The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination. New Haven: Yale UP, 1979.

Showalter, Elaine. A Literature of Their Own. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1976.

Shuttleworth, Sally. Charlotte Bronte and Victorian Psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996.

Small, Helen. Love’s Madness: Medicine, the Novel, and Female Insanity. New York: Oxford UP, 1996.

Winnifrith, Tom. A New Life of Charlotte Bronte. Hampshire: Macmillan,1988.
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