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Free Study Guide-Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte-Free Booknotes Summary
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CHARACTER ANALYSIS

Adèle Varens

Adèle is the daughter of Céline Varens, a French opera-dancer. She is a pretty and lively child, spoiled by too much pampering. Under Jane's supervision she becomes remarkably obedient. She is not a girl of extraordinary endowments, but neither is she corrupted by any vice. A relationship based on affection develops between her and Jane, who addresses her as "darling Adèle." She is able to overcome her "French defects" and blossom into a sweet young woman.

Rosamond Oliver

Rosamond Oliver is a charming but superficial woman. She is coquettish in her relationship with St. John. She does have redeeming features, like good-humored gaiety and generosity. St. John admits that he loves her. However, he cannot marry her because she does not possess endurance, perseverance and the dedication to hard work so essential to a missionary's wife. She gets married to Mr. Granby, an aristocrat.


Bertha Rochester

Bertha is Mr. Rochester's insane wife. Some critics view Bertha as Jane's dark double: she represents the angry aspect of the orphan child. Jane's impassioned "hunger, rebellion and rage" are vividly visible in Bertha. In fact, Bertha represents the unrestrained passion in Jane. She signifies Jane's secret self, which she has tried to repress since her childhood days at Gateshead. Every one of Bertha's appearances or manifestations can be associated with an experience or repression on Jane's part. However, by the end of the novel, the situation changes considerably. Bertha herself is consumed by the engulfing flames of Thornfield Hall (she is consumed by her own mad passions.) Likewise, the Bertha in Jane dies when she is freed from a possible life-long subordination to St. John Rivers. Bertha's death means that on more than one level, Jane can be united with Mr. Rochester.

Other critics have viewed Bertha as a symbol of the silencing of the female voice: she is locked away and kept secret as if she does not exist, and her words and actions are interpreted as either meaningless or monstrous (especially by Mr. Rochester) because she has been labeled "insane." In any case, Bertha is one of the most interesting characters in the book and has inspired other creations. Jean Rhys' novel, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966), is an attempt to tell Bertha's story. It reconstructs Mr. Rochester's first marriage from Bertha's point of view. The Madwoman in the Attic (Gilbert and Gubar, 1979), a study of women writers in nineteenth-century England, takes its title in part from Brontë's creation of Bertha.

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