Comparing Rochester And Bertha In Jane Eyre

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Jane is once again explicitly compared to Bertha as Rochester declares that his love will remain if Jane suffers from madness. Rochester insists that even if Jane is sick, her mind will still be his “treasure” (p. 317); and that even if she assaults him like Bertha does, he will “receive [her] in an embrace” (p. 317). Nevertheless, neither Jane nor the reader can believe in Rochester’s words. Rather, it is reasonable to infer that Bertha only degenerates into a primal creature after being alienated from public awareness. After all, the story of Rochester and Bertha is only told from the man’s perspective. The ambiguity of whether Rochester has once loved Bertha, or whether he merely thinks that he has “loved her” (p. 323), before he disdains her hints that Jane may be another Bertha if she is out of control. Bertha indeed symbolizes an essential element of Jane’s self-identity. This is reinforced by the mirror-image Jane sees as Bertha tears her veil, which resembles that of Jane in the red-room. The grotesque faces are surprisingly alike in how Jane feels on seeing them. When the solitary Jane looks into the mirror, she perceives a strange figure gazing at her with frightened eyes, this is a critical moment of her individual development. The figure has “a white face” and is like a supernatural “spirit” (p. 11). Although Bertha’s “discoloured face” in Jane’s mirror is even more ghostly than that of the child Jane (p. 300), both appear to be a countenance that Jane has never
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