The Madwoman In The Esante In Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

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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…show more content…
Of all narrators, none make any drastic change to their life or personality other than Rochester himself; only after Jane’s departure from Thornfield following the reveal of Bertha and later the loss of his eyesight does Rochester become a complacent man, similar in tone to Jane’s own personality. Bertha’s role in the novel, though compelling, serves as a sad note to the story on the surface but it is urged by scholars to view her with a critical eye as a symbol of her era in which passionate woman were either insane or a monster. In writing such a novel – particularly one with such a gothic tone – no doubt was it threatening to the male gender 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

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