Through the course of the novel, Jane strives to define the concept of propriety for herself that is at odds with her natural virulent passion. Her impassioned outbursts are both a central struggle through her youth and an engaging facet of her more mature personality. Jane is taught about propriety from other characters, ranging from the docile and stoic Helen Burns who she greatly admires for her intelligence to Mrs. Reed whose admiration she never gains. The notion of social propriety does not come from Jane herself, but from an amalgamation of values of Helen Burns, Miss Temple, Mrs. Reed and other prominent influences in her life, which she aims to adhere to even though they are radically divergent from her own vehement personality.
[...] Rochester to one with “continued outbreaks of her violent and unreasonable temper.”[x] The subsequent discovery of her madness was not coincidentally in tandem with Jane's suppression of her impulsive, too vehement”[xi] nature; it is the first indication of a connection between Jane and Bertha Mason. When Jane moves to Thornfield Bertha haunts her more directly and evidently than before, laughing a laugh that was tragic, as preternatural”[xii] as any she had heard. This supernatural laugh suggests a feeling of omnipresence; which “thus alone, [she] not unfrequently heard.” Bertha's presence invaded her solitude and, as an exception, it “thrilled”[xiii] her instead of being an intrusion. [...]
[...] The one action Bertha directs at Jane is when she “thrust up her candle close to [Jane's] face, and extinguished it under [her] eyes”[xxv] after which Jane fainted. There was terror in the directness of the confrontation of such an illusive presence, but none of the violence that was seen in her when she burnt Mr. Rochester's bed or that apparent in the torn veil and the demonic laughter. This confrontation had forced Jane to face everything that she represented to her. [...]
[...] Although Bertha appears only very few times in the novel, her impact on the story as well as her odd and otherworldly relationship with Jane provides a tool to understand the struggle that Jane is going through for most of the novel. Their interaction is so subtly woven; yet Bertha's actions very directly play into Jane's emotions and vice versa. This complementary relationship adds intrigue and yet another layer to both the story and the characters. Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. [...]
[...] Jane Eyre. New York: The Modern Library [viii] Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. New York: The Modern Library Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. New York: The Modern Library Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. New York: The Modern Library Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. New York: The Modern Library [xii] Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. New York: The Modern Library [xiii] Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. New York: The Modern Library [xiv] Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. New York: The Modern Library Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. New York: The Modern Library [xvi] Brontë, Charlotte. [...]
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