Come to the English Department Scary Movie Night!
Bring a pillow or cushion or something like that.
Jane Eyre movie clip #2
Matters of Power and Inequality
All her life, Jane has been imprisoned/ confined/ restrained, in part because she occupies a vulnerable position in society. The world she lives in does not give power to one such as she.
Marriage with Rochester becomes the final testing ground.
“It is your time now, little tyrant, but it will be mine presently: and when once I have fairly seized you, to have and to hold, I’ll just—figuratively speaking—attach you to a chain like this” (LM: 828)
Finally, Rochester’s ultimate secret, the secret that is revealed together with the existence of Bertha, the literal impediment to his marriage with Jane, is another and perhaps most surprising secret of inequality: but this time the hidden facts suggest the master’s inferiority rather than his superiority. Rochester, Jane learns, after the aborted wedding ceremony, had married Bertha Mason for status, for sex, for money, for everything but love and equality.
“Oh, I have no respect for myself when I think of that act! He confesses. “An agony of inward contempt masters me. I never loved, I never esteemed, I did not even known her” (LM: 853).
Jane: I would scorn such a union [as the loveless one he hints he will enter into with Blanche]: therefore I am better than you” (LM: 815).
Jane’s whole story, her whole journey, has prepared her to be angry in this way at Rochester.
“the more he bought me, the more my cheek burned with a sense of annoyance and degradtion . . . I thought his smile was such as a sultan might, in a blissful and fond moment, bestow on a slave his gold and gems had enriched” (LM:826)
So even before the secret is relieved, it is no surprise that Jane’s anger and fear about her marriage begin to surface.
Jane’s Splitting Self
A. Jane the child splitting off from Jane the Adult
The first sign that this is happening is the recurrent dream of a child as she begins her romance with her master.
(LM: 791-92) “It was from companionship with this baby-phantom I had been roused on that moonlight night when I heard the cry”
The next day she is literally called back to her past to see dying Mrs. Reed who reminds her who she was: “Are you Jane Eyre? . . . I declare she talked to me once like something mad, or like a fiend” (LM: 799)
The phantom-child reappears in two dramatic dreams Jane has the night before her wedding eve, during which she experiences “a strange regretful consciousness of some barrier dividing her” from Rochester.” (LM: 836)
First Dream: (LM: 836ff)
Second Dream: (LM: 836-837f)
B. Jane Eyre Splitting from Jane Rochester
“there was no putting off the day that advanced—the bridal day” (LM: 831).
“one Jane Rochester, a person whom as yet I knew not,” though “in yonder closet . . . garments said to be hers had already displaced [mine]: for not to me appertained that . . . that strange wraith-like apparel” (LM: 831).
C. Jane Eyre Splitting from her own body
On the morning of her wedding: she turns towards the mirror and sees “a robed and veiled figure, so unlike my usual self that it seemed almost the image of a stranger” (LM: 839) reminding us of the moment in the red-room when all had “seemed colder and darker in that visionary hollow (14).
IV. Jane’s Monstrous Self
The most frightening separation is the appearance of a mysterious specter, a sort of “vampyre” that appears in the middle of the night to rend and trample the wedding veil of that unknown person Jane Rochester.
A. Bertha seems to do what Jane has only wanted or wished she could do.
1. Jane did not like the vapoury veil – Bertha rips it up
2. Jane wants to put off the wedding day – Bertha sees to that too.
3. Jane wishes that she could be Rochester’s equal in size and strength so that she can battle him in the contest of their marriage. Bertha, “a big woman, in stature almost equaling her husband,” has the necessary “virile force” (LM: 844-45)
Bertha, in other words, is Jane’s darkest double: she is the angry aspect of the Jane, her ferocious secret self that Jane has been trying to get rid of ever since she left Gateshead.
Calire Rosenfeld: the novelist who consciously or unconsciously exploits psychological Doubles frequently juxtaposes two characters, the one representing the socially acceptable or conventional personality, the other externalizing the free, uninhibited, criminal self.
Every one of Bertha’s appearances or manifestations have been associated with an experience or repression of Jane’s anger.
1. Jane’s feelings of “hunger, rebellion and rage” on the battlements were accompanied by Bertha’s “low, slow, ha! ha!” and “eccentric murmurs.” (LM: 711)
2. Jane’s apparently secure response to Rochester’s sexual confidence was followed by Bertha’s attempt to incinerate the master in his bed. (LM: 736; 739-40)
3. Jane’s anxieties about her marriage and her fears of her own alien “robed and veiled bridal image” were objectified by the image of Bertha in a “white and straight “ dress, “whether a gown, sheet or shroud I cannot tell” (LM: 837).