Character Analysis in Jane Eyre
Jane is an intelligent, honest, young girl forced to contend with oppression, inequality, and hardship. Jane’s relationship with Rochester is based on manipulation and secrecy. Jane works as a governess under Rochester’s employ.
From the moment that Jane meets Rochester, he is manipulative and controlling. He hides his real identity until he knows he has more power over Jane. Rochester organizes a party, welcoming guests into his house. He flirts with Blanche Ingram, wanting Jane to become jealous and declare her love for him. When she doesn’t, he appears angry and flirts all the more – manipulating Jane’s and Blanche’s emotions. Rochester finally declares his love for Jane, stating they must get married straight away. (Bronte, 163). Another example of Rochester manipulating Jane is when he dresses up as a gypsy to trick Jane into admitting her true feelings for him (Bronte, 228). This manipulation Rochester uses towards Jane affects their relationship.
Bertha is the wife of Mr. Rochester. Bertha Mason is a formerly beautifiul and wealthy Creole woman who has become insane, violent, and bestial. “Bertha Mason is mad; and she came of a mad family; idiots and maniacs through three generations!” (Bronte, 337) She lives locked in a secret room on the third story of Thornfield and is guarded by Grace Poole. “He lifted the hangings form the wall, uncovering the second door: this, too, he opened. In a room without a window, there burnt a fire, guarded by a hugh and strong fender, and a lamp suspended form the ceiling by a chain.” (Bronte, 338) Bertha and Rochester were set up by their families to marry one another, even though she was likely to become insane. Mr. Rochester was unable to divorce Bertha due to her insanity which drives him to marry Jane. The social restrictions of the time have again disrupted Jane and Rochester’s relationship (Bronte, 327).
Mr. Rochester’s manipulation of Jane Eyre causes Jane to react in two different ways. Jane’s first reaction is to leave him, which leaves her with nothing. She is forced to be independent. “That I am not Edward Rochester’s bride is the least part of my woe,…” (Bronte, 343) Rochester’s reaction to this is somewhat controlling, he reaction is anger. Her next reaction happens after she goes to find Mr. Rochester and discovers that Thornfield has been ruined, Bertha is dead and Mr Rochester has been blinded and crippled by the fire. She then decides to marry Rochester (Bronte, 487). “Reader, I married him.” (Bronte, 517)
Rochester’s manipulation of Bertha drives her to react in such a strong way. When Bertha first finds out about Jane and Rochester’s wedding, she destroys Jane’s veil perhaps to give her a warning. Bertha sets Thornfield on fire, which results in Mr. Rochester being both crippled and blinded, she also decides to take her life. Bertha eventually burns down Thornfield, plunging to her death in the flames. “Tongues of flame darted round the bed: the curtains were on fire. In the midst of blaze and vapour, Mr. Rochester lay stretched motionless, in deep sleep.” (Bronte, 174) “We saw him approach her; and then, ma’am, she yelled and gave a spring, and the next minute she lay smashed on the pavement.’” (Bronte, 493) “He is now helpless, indeed – blind, and a cripple.’” (Bronte, 494)
Mr. Rochester’s relationships with Jane Eyre and Bertha Mason are somewhat similar. Bertha is literally trapped in the mansion and Jane figuratively trapped. Both Jane and Bertha are oppressed by men. They are both dependent on Rochester. Jane and Bertha are both manipulated by Rochester, the difference is how they react and cope with this reality. These differences determine their fate. Rochester attempts to manipulate Jane’s feelings for him. Jane Eyre and Bertha Mason have experienced intense anger towards Rochester. Jane ends up marrying him, and Bertha ends up killing herself and permanently harming Rochester. This emotional manipulation greatly affects these two women and their feelings towards themselves and Rochester. Mr. Rochester often takes things too far when he doesn’t receive the reaction he wants. He becomes contolling and moody. Rochester feels the need to control women who oppose him. This manipulation is important when looking at the plot and connecting the characters to each other.
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