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The Context in Jane Eyre

Categories: Jane Eyre

Question: What role did Bertha play within the novel?


Female behaviour in the Victorian Era

  • Women during this era had no voice or rights. They were pushed to the side and unnoticed, created to feel isolated.
  • Women were associated with an expected stereotype to be inside home surroundings. The women were expected to marry, have children and keep a snug and respectable home. Furthermore as that they were to be quite pleasant, quiet, well behaved. Those were the sole acceptable roles for women throughout that era.

  • Within the Victorian Era, it was common for ladies to look over their husbands and brothers in their privately held corporation.

    Jane being against the norms and values of the Victorian Era

  • Jane is as a strong-minded and fierce female character that works demands respect and combines self-control with passion and rebellion. She is exposed to social rules and norms of society and it’s shown that she does not accept the norms and values of women inside the Victorian Era.

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  • We tend to see her disapproval of the norms as she is presented as a wilful, unruly and aggressive woman once she fights back her cousin in Chapter one.
  • As young orphan Jane is not given any love, therefore, she must experience having a family and receiving the love she’s always lacked.


  • He is the owner of Thornfield Hall
  • Rochester spends most of his time abroad attempting to forget the betrayal of his family and miserable marriage to Bertha.
  • Rochester gets near to Jane and is smitten together with her, nevertheless, she is exposed to the Rochester who doesn’t show her.

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    His world of lies and secrets comes out shortly.


  • Bertha is known as the ‘Creole-English madwoman in the attic.’
  • Bertha is introduced by her inhumanly, outrageously evil laughs that Jane constantly hears re-echoing from the third floor.
  • Bertha is depicted as a ghostlike being.
  • Bertha tries to come between Rochester and Jane’s happily ever after.

Links between Jane and Bertha

Though Bertha and Jane are set apart from each other and opposites in many ways, they also resemble each other with similarities. Both women have had personal relationships with Rochester and, as women living in nineteenth-century England, Jane and Bertha both face mistreatment by a male-dominated society. Building upon the belief that women could not be intellectually independent, Bertha’s family marries her off to Rochester. Jane experiences the controls of gender inequalities, as she is only able to inherit wealth after her male relatives are dead. Also, along with male-dominance, there are attempts to control both of the characters. Rochester attempts to control Bertha by isolating her from society and the world. Mrs Reed tries to control Jane by punishing her and treating her harshly.

Bertha Mason in Jane Eyre

Bertha Mason is the main antagonist in ‘Jane Eyre’. Although Master Reed and Mrs Reed are cruel to Jane in everyway – physically and emotionally, Bertha possibly does the most amount of harm to her, deliberately and indirectly. The scene, during which Bertha is disclosed, is the foremost necessary scene within the novel. Occasionally referred to as the ‘madwoman in the attic’, she is not only a huge part of Jane Eyre but a massive part of literature as well. Although Bertha only appears a few times in the novel, Charlotte Bronte has managed to create a personality that y creates the stories conclusion and all the drama surrounding it.

Halfway through the novel of, as the readers, we immediately grow alert to a mystery being that’s living at Thornfield Hall. This character is eventually revealed to us when strange noises, close to death experiences, and tried murders take place. Bertha, the current wife of Rochester and so an obstacle that stands between the marriage of Jane and Rochester, prevents Jane from being allowed to ‘live happily ever after’ and find herself with the person she loves. Bertha is instantly disliked; she is the object that stops happiness. Rochester cannot be faithful to Jane as he is already married to Bertha. Once Rochester asks Jane to marry him, he’s asking Jane to come away from her morals, and not be his woman, however his mistress. Not only that, his marriage to Bertha in the first place was dishonest. His father and brother tricked Rochester into marrying Bertha, as he failed to acknowledge she was a lunatic. Only when the wedding had passed it became clear to Rochester that his woman wasn’t what she gave the impression to be. Bertha was demoniac and diabolical and is presented in some ways in which, all of that aren’t quite human.

Bertha has the unstable behaviour of a wild animal and is also as vicious. The moment Jane goes into the house on the third floor she hears ‘a snarling snatching sound almost like a dog quarrelling’ and a ‘goblin ha-ha!’ she wonders ‘what creature was it’ that masked a normal woman’s face and verbalised the voice of a mocking demon. It’s discovered to us that Bertha has been living in Thornfield Hall ever since Jane started living there and it becomes clear within the part of the novel wherever Bertha is shown to Jane, that the maker of the noise wasn’t a ghost or animal – however, a mad, female lunatic By the above, the reader can tell that, not only is Bertha the type of a wild beast, but conjointly she is a snarling, angry beast, prepared to attack anyone she desires to – no matter who they are. In the aftermath attack, Jane can hear Bertha stirring in within the space next to her. She is in darkness – meaning that sounds can be detected but nothing can be seen. Bertha is once more described as a ‘wild beast’ by the sounds she makes, and a ‘fiend’. She is described as the devil, which puts emphasis on the fact that she is evil. Nothing positive has been mentioned in relation to Bertha; we are likely to hate her.

When Mr Mason is talking to Rochester, Bertha is yet again show to be a wild animal. ‘She worried me like a tigress’. This suggests that the attack of Mr Mason is to be the attack of a wild animal on its prey. Bertha’s method of attack was one that would be only be used by a wild animal – worrying. Throughout the whole of the novel, Bertha Mason does not have a human’s voice. She is only detected by making the noise of an animal, and she never directly speaks to anyone. The first and only time she speaks is throughout the attack on her brother. She said she’d ‘drain blood’. This quote presents Bertha to be sort of an evil spirit. She threatens to empty her brother’s blood, as a vampire would do. This illustration of Bertha is to be like another horrifying and deadly creature that comes out in the dead of night and is selected to bring additional horror at the thought of what Bertha may be.

Although Bertha’s acts are possible to be interpreted as spiteful and malicious, it’s doable, particularly when she jumps out of the window, to feel sorry for this mentally unhealthy woman who is finally freed from her physical captivity in her room. ‘Jane Eyre’ is tough to reason in a genre. It has been said that it is a ‘weird hybrid of three genres: the Gothic novel, the romance novel and the Bildungsroman.’ If it weren’t for Bertha Mason, it is possible that one in all of these genres wouldn’t be applied to ‘Jane Eyre’ in the least. Bertha symbolises ‘all things Gothic’ within the story. She creates the stress that comes with the understanding that something is going on at Thornfield Hall that is not normal.

Bertha lets out all of Jane’s distress and concern. An example is that Jane has doubts and worries about marrying Mr Rochester. She fears becoming trapped and imprisoned however; she does nothing specific to express this worry, yet Bertha then rips up Jane’s veil. Perhaps it was an act of resistance against the principle of marriage, which Jane is afraid of herself. Jane, after the failed wedding, later realises she needs to leave Thornfield as it has become a part of her life filled with great sorrow for her. Bertha later burns down Thornfield. Jane deals with her feelings independently and intelligently, it may well be said that Bertha then deals with Jane’s feelings within the angry, fiery approach that Jane keeps to herself. Bertha signified a lot of problems that were around at the time of the story. Strangely, readers may find themselves relating, or a minimum of feeling sorry for her. She contributes a sufficient amount to the story and therefore the plot of ‘Jane Eyre’ would be greatly different if it were not for Bertha. She provides the novel with danger and drama alongside with mental and emotional strain and secrets. As well as that she allows us to experience what happy ending is – something that we tend to crave.

Cite this page

The Context in Jane Eyre. (2020, Sep 17). Retrieved from

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