Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 3

Belongs to Penguin Inc.

While main characters are important and trivial to novels, so are the smaller characters that are portrayed throughout the pieces. These peripheral characters are ones that help create and build up the novel, along with molding the main character. In the novel Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, Bertha Mason can be considered a peripheral character. In this novel, Bertha is used to emphasize the idea of confinement, express Jane's pent up emotions, and warn Jane of possible threats. While she is only in parts of the novel, and never actually interacts with the characters in the time the story takes place, she is still an important figure in the story the author is attempting to reveal. This magnificent piece of literature relays the autobiography of a young girl, named Jane Eyre. It takes the reader on a journey through her life, its obstacles, hardships, and emotions. Throughout her life, Jane comes across Mr. Rochester, at a place called Thornfield, whom she falls in love with, only to find he has an "insane" wife he has concealed and locked away. This woman is Bertha Mason, whose story is only told through Mr. Rochester and other characters. At this point, the reader can begin to recognize Bertha as a crucial character, altering Jane's life, along with being thought of as Jane's doppelganger, or twin. Bertha Mason's story is only revealed through Mr. Rochester. He explains how he had fallen in love with this woman, introduced to him by his father and brother because of her money. He described her to be, "a fine woman...tall, dark, and majestic" (p.352). He continues to explain his infatuation with her, eventually marrying her. However, he explains, shortly after the marriage began, he saw things quite differently. He states, "Her tastes obnoxious to me, her cast of mind common, low, narrow, and singularly incapable of being led to anything" (353). It was after becoming her husband that he started to find her inferior to him. However, he diagnosis these reactions to her becoming mad, in which he continued to see more and more dislikes. In time, he felt so compelled to have the need to lock her up in order to, "repudiate the contamination of her crimes" (p.354). By concealing her and pretending she did not exist, he could "be clean in his own sight" (p.354), and begin to live a new life. While this story reveals Bertha as becoming a mad woman, the idea of confinement must be observed. Mr. Rochester has shown the same pattern when dating other women and has shown similar ideas of these women. At one point, he tells Jane of these women, how he would fine them charming and attractive, only to later feel the need to "rid" of them. He notes, "Giacinta was unprincipled and violent; I tired of her in three months. Clara was honest and quiet; but heavy, mindless, and unimpressible" (359). Mr. Rochester tended to think of women as a toy, something he could "play" with for a few days, then just put away in the closet. Knowing this, one can

conclude that Bertha was treated the same way, in which her madness was caused by the treatment of Mr. Rochester. She was confined by the role in society placed on women as someone who stayed home and did womanly tasks. This is sure to make someone because more feisty and aggressive than before. Of course, after being shut up in the room by Mr. Rochester, she is no doubt to become even more frenzied. Bertha was set in this room to live out the rest of her life. Her acts were undoubtedly to become more aggravated and contrast her timid personality shown before she married Mr. Rochester. Having these facts in mind, Bertha can be seen as Jane's double, in that she acts out in the ways Jane is not able to do. Jane is a timid girl, with pent up frustrations that she is not able to express. Bertha, however, does this for her, acting as the devil to her angel. There is one point in the novel, after first meeting Mr. Rochester, where Jane is thinking about the information that was described to her about his past. The facts seem to disturb her somewhat, for she describes him as, "proud, sardonic, and harsh to inferiority of every description "(172). She also expresses the fact that she realizes his kindness to her is only in lieu of others. In addition, she begins questioning the reasons of his frequent departures, not knowing about Bertha at this time. That evening of her thoughts and ponders, Bertha sneaks into Rochester's room and sets his bed on fire. This act is almost like it was produced by Jane's anxieties and fears. Bertha was able to commit Jane's devilish aggression for her. Right before Jane is to marry Mr. Rochester, she is expressing feelings of fear of her upcoming marriage. She describes the upcoming day, "he I was now to array myself to meet, the dread, but adored, type of my unknown future day" (p.350). There is dread about her marriage day, which shows her uncertainty of the man she is about to marry. She feels that the marriage would tie her down and hold her back from being who she wanted to be. Perhaps Bertha could sense these fears, as for a way of warning Jane she appeared one evening to Jane's room. With out words, Bertha placed the wedding veil upon her own head, only to then rip it in two parts. At this, she flung the two pieces on the floor, trampled on them, and left. This was her only way of communicating to Jane about the upcoming marriage and warning of the future. In the end, Bertha Mason finally breaks down from being confined and burns down Thornfield. She then commits suicide, in order to end the suffering and pain she had to endure over the years. This action freed Jane to marry Rochester. Therefore, Bertha is a crucial character in Jane's life, for she alters it and has the power to alter Jane's future. She is a symbol for the idea of women's roles during that time and how they were often thought of. She portrays the idea of confinement in a woman's life and the dominance of a man's power. Even though Bertha had a small part in the novel, and never was able to tell her side of the story, she molded the novel and its ending. Without Bertha, Jane may have become Bertha, in the sense that marrying Rochester at

the time she was supposed to, she would have given into her fears and kept under her husbands watch all the time. She would have been confined to her home and not be able to discover herself. Jane, the angel, would have become her "twin", Bertha, the devil.