The Madwoman in the Attic

Topics: Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë, Clothing Pages: 3 (719 words) Published: December 11, 2012
Lexie Sokolow

AP Lit

The short writing assignment will ask that you analyze "The Woman in the Attic" through ONE of the following lenses: -Feminist - (subjugated by patriarchy)
-Post-Colonial (images of the Other, the Colonized v. British Empire) -Psychological/Psychoanalytic - (Is she a fragment of Jane's Unconscious, etc.) -Marxist (analyze in terms of class, economic status)

The Signal From the Madwoman

Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre supports a feminist methodology through the depiction of the paradigmatic madwoman in the attic, Bertha Mason. Imprisoned by her husband, Rochester, Bertha represents the suppression of Victorian marriage. Displayed as a madwoman, Bertha’s loss of freedom reflects Jane’s loss of autonomy when agreeing to marry Mr. Rochester. Jane’s struggle throughout this novel reinforces the significance of the female role in both marriage and in society. Through a feminist lens, women are appreciated, celebrated, and valued. However, Rochester degrades and suffocates the women in his life to ensure his authority and dominance. Bronte’s use of clothing as the symbol of suppression, demonstrates Jane’s battle of finding autonomy as she sees the repressed madwoman in the attic. Overall, Bronte addresses the highly challenging, yet ubiquitous concurrence of madness and feminism.

Through the deceiving, masked façade of clothing, Rochester knows how to gain power with a woman. Dressed as a gypsy to deceive Jane, Rochester connives into a masked identity to hear Jane’s opinion of her master. After the gypsy eagerly asks Jane questions about Rochester, she confesses that she “‘did not come to hear Mr. Rochester’s fortune: I [she] came to hear my [her] own’” (Bronte 171). Rochester cunningly dresses up as a gypsy, using this false identity to his advantage in tightening his string on Jane. His ravishing garments mask away his strong, masculine features. However, no mask or garment can hide his strive for power over the women in his...
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