Bertha Mason's Madness in a Contemporary Context

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‘Certainly, Rochester 's account of the Caribbean as "hell" corroborates this idea; his association of the tropics ' infernal atmosphere ("air [...] like sulfur-steams") with his spouse 's demonic "shriek[ing]" conflates the "madness" of the climate with the madness of Bertha.’
(Willis, Sarah. "Negotiating with the Dead." Literature/Film Quarterly)
In the BBC’s 2006 adaptation of Brontë’s Jane Eyre, how is Bertha portrayed and what purpose does she serve?

Many works contain characters who, while not main characters by any standards, play pivotal roles and function as anything from sources of comedic relief to ties that link up loose ends or gaps in a plot. Willis claims that in Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Bertha fills this role, acting as an extreme version of the madness of the situation, concentrating the intensity into a more visible spectacle for the viewer. In my analysis I will aim to discuss the mirror effect that Bertha possesses, acting as a human outlet for many of the emotions felt at Thornfield Hall. Also I will discuss why Bertha is in fact in this state, is it as a result of racist views towards Creole people from whom she has allegedly inherited her insanity or from the ongoing repression and lack of stature possessed by women in that time. I will take in to consideration the development of the story from its original text form to the 2006 BBC edition, a story which has fascinated the public, with seventeen film adaptations to its name it truly stands out as one of the most popular period dramas.
Susanna White when taking the task of directing stated “We are deliberately making a very passionate version of the story, as opposed to those Jane Austen Novels which are very much of society and of manners”. From this brief encounter we see that White wishes to create a fresh take on the story, by showing the emotions and complex relationships between the characters rather than completely relying on the strict class system for a plot. However, with this



Bibliography: Brontë, Charlotte (2006). Jane Eyre. London: Penguin Publishers. 145. Heffelfinger, E & Wright, L (2011). Visual Difference: Postcolonial Studies and Intercultural Cinema. New York: Peter Lang Publishing. 103-104. Iwama Mia. (2003). Bertha Mason 's Madness in a Contemporary Context. Brown 's English. 151. 3. Santer, D. (2006). Behind The Scenes Production Diary. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/drama/janeeyre/producer_01.shtml. Last accessed 28th Dec 2011.

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