论 文 摘 要
《简爱》是世界文坛上的不朽名著, 但多数读者在理解《简爱》的同时对作 品中的伯莎---住在阁楼上的疯女人的形象往往忽视和扭曲。其实,伯莎是悲剧人 物的代表。她的存在,对于《简爱》反对男权主义的压迫主义以及对女性自由平 等的呼吁主题的表达具有重要意义。 本文通过阐述这个边缘人物伯莎“疯”的原因，通过分析伯莎四次露面过程 中行为的逻辑合理性， 证
明伯莎并不是真的疯；进而联系维多利亚时期女性所遭 受的压迫以及社会种族歧视严重的历史情况， 证明伯莎她是一位反对男权主义的 战士，她将自己隐藏在“疯病”的面具之下，进行着反抗当时男权社会对妇女的 压迫剥削的斗争，从而唤醒女性的自我意识。
关键词： 《简爱》 ；疯女人；反抗；女性主义
Jane Eyre is a famous novel in the world literature. However, whenever readers read it, they usually ignore Bertha Mason---the lunatic woman in the attic. In fact, Bertha is twisted, oppressed, sympathized and misunderstood. As one of the most important parts of the novel, the lunatic woman has an great position in the resistance to men’s oppression and the expression of novel’s theme. This paper describes the reason of Bertha Mason becoming “Lunatic”, and analyzes the logical actions of Bertha Mason from her four times appearances to prove the lunatic woman is not a madness. Then, contacting with the social reality that women were oppressed by men and the popular idea of racial discrimination in the Victorian time, the paper comes to conclude that “Lunatic” woman is a real solider who hides herself in the mask of “Lunatic” to rebel against male-dominated society, and exposes lunatic’s indignantly protests against male’s oppressions with her outcry for equality with men.
Key words: Jane Eyre; lunatic woman; resistance; feminism
Charlotte Bronte has been considered as an outstanding woman literary figure in the Victorian time. Despite of the largely autobiographical content of her novels， Charlotte Bronte breaks the conventional fictional stereotype of a woman as submissive， dependent， ignorant in the nineteenth century． severe experiences and Her mold her indomitable characters and her works are full of spirit of resistance, exposing the evil phenomenon of the society. Her books are regarded as the classics in the area of feminist literary criticism. She was passionate and rebellious. Some experts commented that Charlotte Bronte’s works had revealed the truth of contemporary politics and society in the world, which was more than what statesmen, political commentators and moralists had contributed. Her masterpiece Jane Eyre describes the heroine searches for an identity as a new woman supported by economic and emotional independence in a world, which is not expected such ambitions in women at that time. The highly acclaimed Jane Eyre best demonstrates the breakthrough: on the one hand, Jane, a woman has her unique thought and personality, dares to struggle with the fate and seeks for independence and equal rights. On the other hand, this work has deepl y exposed the harsh reality of Britain and praised the struggle of those women who stood up for equality. Jane Eyre is a novel which is well-known in the world. As soon as it was published, almost every reader was greatly moved. This most acclaimed of novels— “English”, “Gothic”, “romantic”, “female”—is always a surprise, in the very authority, resonance, and inimitable voice of its heroine. With the development of feminism in twentieth century, another
character---Bertha Mason has begun to attract more attention and start a new page of feminist research. Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar published The Madwoman in the Attic, a now classic text of early feminist literary criticism (1978). General Speaking, Bertha Mason, who is the insane wife of Mr. Rochester, the counterpart of Jane, is nothing more than one of several trials that Jane must face and overcome; the final test following struggles with her vindictive Aunt Reed and the hypocritical
headmaster of Lowood boarding school, Mr. Brocklehurst. In fact, Charlotte Bronte put her in an important position where as a resistant solider hide herself in the madness. For instance Bertha Mason uses fire to injure Rochester, which is a symbolism of her feminine consciousness involved with rebellious spirit and hatred of the oppression from male. In a word, Bertha Mason and Jane are sisters from different aspects to protest against the male oppression and seek for feminine freedom and equality. In previous studies, the description of lunatic just serves as a foil to express heroine’s kindness and self-esteem, meanwhile, as a evidence to embody female’s criticism of the patriarchal society at that time. There are few researches of whether Bertha is a real lunatic or not. In Jane Eyre, as a marginal person, Bertha Mason utters no words and all her information comes from a double subjective narration, and it is riddle that Mason’s story is true or not. This paper aims to prove the lunatic woman is not a madness mainly from analyzing the logical actions of Bertha Mason from her four times appearances and concludes that “lunatic” woman is a real fighter who hides herself in the mask of “Lunatic” to rebel against the male-dominated society and exposes lunatic’s indignantly protests against male’s oppressions with her outcry for equality with men. Firstly, this paper analyses the appearance of “Lunatic”, and introduces the two main reasons of Mason becoming “Lunatic”, so as to reveal the oppression suffered by Victorian women in marriage, and the racial discrimination in society. Then, mainly from three aspects to interpret feminism image from Mason’s “Lunatic”: first, Mason’s character of self-esteem and rebel makes her can't be a traditional wife of the Victorian era, and Mason’s Creole mongrel makes her suffer discrimination in society, which determine Mason to have the unique experience of being imprisoned in the attic; secondly, analyzes the logical actions of Bertha Mason from her four times appearances to prove the lunatic woman is not a madness; thirdly, concludes Mason’s unique image, namely the female fighter against the male oppression; a victim of marriage, fame and fortune trading. Finally, concludes that Mason is not a really “Lunatic”, Bertha Mason is a soldier who never compromise. Foil character as she is,
but Bertha Mason’s high spirit of struggle awakening female to fight for their equal.
II. The Reasons for Bertha Mason Seeming to Be “Lunatic”
2.1. The Background of Bertha Mason Bertha Mason---Mrs Rochester, who has been locked away in the attic of Thornfield Hall for ten years by her husband and the lunatic woman who takes her life as a price, burns down Thornfield at last. Bertha’s story is related through a double narration: Jane’s memories as a mature narrator, and Rochester’s account of a personal story. Personal stories, memories and temporal distance entangle to provide a portrait of Bertha, whose own voice is never heard except through her outrageous laughter. Mason is exotic beauty and charm and she owns a wealth family arranged marriage, but her husband Rochester states he never loved Bertha because she is mad. She always gives off loudly eerie laugh at night, she will attack others suddenly and she burns the Thornfield at last. It seems that Bertha Mason is an evil lunatic. However, why Bertha Mason just attach her husband and her brother? All her madness aims at the people who makes her life in the gloomy corner. From her actions, it can be seen that she is just a helpless woman who has been abandoned by her family and husband. It may be strange that Bertha Mason’s family does not to rescue their folk. But in that age, female is a price for male to gain more interest. Bertha Mason is not worth the price for her family to cut off the cooperation with Mr Rochester. Ten years of darkness life is like a best tormenting her and nobody cares about her at all, as a consequence, revenge is probable the only meaning for Mason to support her alive. 2.2. The Control of Some People on Bertha Mason 2.2.1. Bertha Mason’s husband---Mr. Rochester The lunatic woman--- Bertha Mason is abandoned by her relatives and the society. In Thornfield, she is a secret. Nobody knows she is the mistress and even regards her as a lunatic. How a mistress is reduced to such a low position? Her husband---Mr Rochester is blamed. According to Mr Rochester, the reason why he has imprisoned his wife is that
she is mad, but it is easy to image an opposite relation of cause and effort, in which years of enforced imprisoned and isolation have made her violently insane or, at least increased her insanity. Even Mason is mad because of her family inheritance, since he marries her, he should take the responsibility for his own choice. The other assumption is that Mr. Rochester can divorce the lunatic woman as soon as he realizes that. But he gives up this plan because of the following lose of wealthy when he divorces with his rich wife. Therefore, he keeps their marriage in secret. In Rochester’s mind, his mad wife has blemished his “honor” and “reputation” and blocked his way to new happiness. So he takes cruel actions：to lock her as a wild beast in the permanent isolation from the outside world. He wants nobody to know the truth so that he can wait for a chance that one day he could realize his plan： bigotry．This is the trick of the sly fox. His action has other purposes: to vindicate his “honor” and “reputation” and to continue his profligate life. To him, a mad wife has far more infamous than his own degradation in morality. Such is his aristocratic bourgeois moral outlook! For Bertha Mason, her husband is the most hated person. The man has married her, but has locked her as an animal in the attic and makes her a “lunatic”. He has secretly kept mistresses outside and even wants to marry Jane. It is truth that Mrs Rochester indeed lives a sinful life before she is insane, but sin is itself a species of insanity. Moreover, when Mr Rochester unfolds the story of his marriage to Bertha, he closely specifies each symptom included in Prichard’s description of moral insanity. Rochester refers to a woman who carries both mental and moral corruption in her blood: a kind of madness. It is important to notice that the description of Bertha’s viciousness and dissolute life is meditated through Rochester, that is, through her afflicted husband who presents himself as a victim of both his father and Bertha’s brother. In Bertha’s mind, her husband---Mr Rochester is a liar who cautiously conceals from Jane the truth of his first marriage by constantly telling lies to her. She must resist for herself which is the common idea for people who is under such a circumstance. 2.2.2. Bertha Mason’s Family
The Victorian era is the society of patriarchy. Women at that time were supposed to hold back many of their feelings, and self-control may be the most notable mark stamped by the moral norms on Victorian women’s psychology. There was little freedom for middle class women at that time. Marriage especially was often a bargain, whereby fortunes were secured by using the female as a pawn. At that time, women are the accessory of men: they have no freedom and chance to choose their lives, women are slaved in life and in spirit by men. A woman's value largely depended on her sexual purity and she was guarded and secured as a property. Men, on the contrary, were potent and free; it was common for them to keep lovers and mistresses. Ironically the women who provided their services were social outcasts as a result. Bertha Mason can not escape from her fate. As a daughter of a wealthy merchant brought up in an atmosphere of tropical sensuality and extravagance, she is devoid of chance to encounter the experiences replete with physical or economica1 frustrations and accepts a family arranged marriage with Mr Rochester which is the burden her family imposed on her. It is a heartache to Bertha, for she knows the truth that her family leave her alone when she is shut off at Thornfield. At that moment, Bertha starts to awake that she is the victim of her family---they expect too much on her husband’s property. To some extent, the Mason’s family has concluded a deal that Rochester should keep their marriage name, and they do not care the status of their daughter. In the novel of Jane Eyre, Bertha Mason is a hybrid, the concept of racial discrimination makes people scorn her. Her husband is a aristocratic bourgeois, he must detest his wife after he abstaining profit from his marriage. Even the tragedy of Bertha is exposed to the society, she will never cause the sympathy from others for women is the weak. In the patriarchal society, a woman with low-blood has no right to claim for herself which is the existence of social rules or patriarchal framework. This is the tragedy of the society.
III. The Feminist Interpretation of the “Lunatic”
3.1 Particular Life Experience of Bertha Mason
The life of Bertha Mason is a tragedy and her experience is the portraiture of women in Victorian time. But the particular experience of her is for her own characters. Before marriage, life to Bertha is too innocent and tranquil to get ignited her eagerness for social acceptance and self-esteem. Therefore, Bertha’s rebel is a model of Victorian wifehood. She has broken the Victorian belief that a woman is “an angel in the house”，who is supposed to be competent to play the multi-roles as the tender nurse, the patient schoolmistress and the sympathizing and forgiving counselor. What dismays Mr Rochester most is that he finds his newly-married wife shows neither the gift nor the desire for functioning as a traditional wife within the structure of traditional marriage．At the moment of realizing that Bertha is not able to meet his patriarchal gratification but just oversteps the boundaries from time to time， Rochester overrules her qualification to be his wife and mentally abandons her without a delay．That is a durance from the patriarchal society. Bertha’s imprisonment in the attic not only represents the repressive and choking aspects of that time, and also reveals the racial prejudice against Bertha’s racial composition. Rochester, a member from the “racial mainstream” but no fortune matches with Bertha Mason--- a woman with impressive fortune but no decent race. It seems much perfect, but Rochester believes his impressive social credentials are the reason he can marry a rich girl. His interpretation of the marriage reflects the popular attitudes among the British. This racial superiority complex is also revealed when Rochester contends it is Bertha’s Creole blood that is the root of her insanity. As a racial inferior and rebel, Bertha must sense the contempt in the British marriage and its extending social relationships. Bertha tends to express her rage without reserve as an instinctive response once she senses the oppression even she is still locked at the attic no matter whether it derives from patriarchy or racial discrimination． 3.2 Four times appearances of Bertha Mason Feminism is a discourse which involves various movements, theories, and philosophies which are concerned with the issue of gender difference. It advocates equality for women and campaigns for females’ rights and interests. Apart from the
criticism of social relationship, many feminists also emphasize the analysis of the inequality between men and women and the promotion of women’s benefits. Feminist theory aims at knowing the essence of inequality and stressing on gender politics and sexuality. The exploring theme of feminism includes discrimination, stereotyped image, materialization of sex, housework distribution, oppression and paternity. In the Cambridge dictionary, the definition of feminism is the belief that women should be allowed the same rights as men and be treated in the same way, but also when it is used to describe a man that means the behavior of man is similar to women. In Jane Eyre, feminism can be interpreted as the awakening of female consciousness and a struggle for equality. Bertha Mason loses her freedom and equality, all her actions are revenge on the patriarchal society for her own rights. Occupying the dominating status in marriage, Rochester seizes the supreme power and authority to judge and punish Bertha Mason. He creates a life style of imprisonment for her “crime” of aggressive behavior, which runs counter to the request and expectation of the master. Ten years of enforced imprisonment and isolation contribute a lot to Bertha’s “insanity”, and that is performed as a trade-off between the extreme abhorrence of Rochester to Bertha and his hypocrisy of abiding by the vows. Despite the unjust life sentence, Bertha’s rebellion does not stop. Her rage fails to be locked in the third—floor cell, but her demonic laughter becomes the direct outlet for it. She makes horrific sounds and strange laugh in order to disturb the tranquil atmosphere and attract people’s attention, all of which includes some sweeping and retaliate actions in the novel happen three times. Bertha has escaped from the “ prison”several times which is the largest part to prove she is a normal person instead of a lunatic. Every time Bertha slipped out of attic, she never tries to escape from Thornfield, she just revenges on a special person. As Gaskell Elizabeth (1975, 16) put forward “She will not try again and again to retaliate her husband if she is mad. She has no chance and wisdom to escape from that attic at least four times, if she is mad.”
One night long after I had gone to bed, I woke up suddenly. It was very early in the morning. I thought that I heard something unusual. Everything was silent, but I listened very carefully, and I heard the sound again. Someone was
moving about outside my room. 'Is anyone there?' I called. There was no answer. I felt worried and very frightened. But the house was silent again, and after a while, I tried to go back to sleep. But then I heard a laugh. It was a terrible, cruel, sound, which made me quite cold with fear. There was a sound of footsteps walking away, and going up the steps to the attic. I could not sleep after that. I put on my clothes and went to find Mrs Fairfax. I heard nothing now, but suddenly I realized that I could smell smoke. It was coming from Mr Rochester's bedroom. I ran into the room and saw that his bed was on fire. I tried to wake him, but he did not move. I looked around the room, looking for something to put out the fire. I saw a large jug of water on a small table. I picked it up and threw the water onto the burning bed. Then, Mr Rochester woke up. (Jane Eyre, 200)
The first time occurs when Jane comes to Thornfield not a very long time, Bertha is in an attempt to burn Rochester in his bed. From the above paragraph, the series actions of Mason are meticulous and logical. She gives off loudly eeriness laugh which makes Jane Eyre surround with trepidation, and also she succeed enters into her husband Rochester’s home and sets a fire in order to kill him. If Bertha is mad, that is impossible for her to get the key to attic and find Rochester’s room exactly. These action should enough to prove that she is clear-minded and conscious. Overview her plan, Mason has the clear aim---to kill her husband, she chose the best moment---at dawn when everyone is at a sound sleep, the best method to revenge---set fire stealth. Without Jane’s help, Rochester must have dead. Facing with the strong power of Rochester in Thornfield, Mason never compromises, and attempts to resist against her freedom.
“Soon after we were married, she changed. She became very strange, and then she became mad and dangerous. She attacked me, and anyone who came near her. Last April, she tried to kill her own brother. ”(Jane Eyre, 550)
At the second time Mason stabs her brother, who came to visit her, but actually it is he who betrays her, so her action is rightly to explain why she treats her brother badly. This is also can explain she is conscious. From the words provided by Rochester, his wife can attack anyone and the injury of Mr. Mason is the best evidence to prove Mason is a lunatic. However, Jane encounters Mason several times and never be attacked, as well as servants at Thornfield. Those can show Mason is not a lunatic for she never hurts the innocents. Mason’s fight aims at male who deprives her freedom and equality.
The third time is about on the eve before the wedding，Bertha Mason suddenly breaks into Jane’s room and tears the wedding veil, a symbol of purity as well as the illusion of the marriage, but she does not hurt Jane. That because Berth Mason suffers more oppression from her husband and her own brother. She has more struggles against male power oppression. The last time, the retaliate action occur in the end of the novel, Bertha Mason sets Thornfield on fire and jumps her death, thus leading Rochester to be blind in eyes, and became a disable. Even in death, Bertha Mason manages to resist her husband’s control for the last time, her final rebellion. This time Bertha Mason has managed to retaliate Rochester. It seems that the half life of Mason is rebellious and with the symbol of male dominance---Thornfield destroyed, she loses her life and gains freedom in another way. 3.3 An Image of the Depressive Woman 3.3.1 a fighter of feminism The insane woman---Bertha Mason is regarded as the champion of female rebellion. Faced with oppression of men, she hides herself under the mask of lunatic to protest against the strictures of patriarchal authority until last moment. Although Bertha is imprisoned, she never give up the idea to resistance. She keeps her eyes on Thornfield all time and gets ready to grasp any opportunity to protest against oppression. She is fighting for her own freedom and equality and she has the most important spirit a fighter should own---never give up. Bertha loses her freedom, and she tries to sneak out of attic several times. Mr. Rochester wants to keep her as a secret. She persists in making ogreish laugh to tell others the existence of herself. Bertha’s laugh, has often been interpreted as madness as “a mode of rebellion against the constraints of patriarchy”. At Thornfield, Bertha sets several times fire until burns down Thornfield, the devil place for her, and she loses her life which means she finally finishes her target of revenge. Bertha Mason’s resistance reflects in Victorian,only by using struggle tools woman can win their freedom and equality. Bertha Mason is not the ugly strange character, is not the heroine Jane’s accompanying and opposite, but is the victim in Victoria time the male power and the
unfair family male power oppression object. She is another Jane to against that unfair society, holding the same thinking as Jane has: outcry for equality with men. 3.3.2 a victim of marriage, fame and fortune trading Bertha's unfortunate, first to show her the same as Rochester, is the victim of that unhappy marriage many years ago. Rochester's father is a"stinginess"of greedy people who, for the sake of money, begins to design the marriage of her son and Bertha with Mr Mason, who is wealthy planter and merchants. And Mason’s father is pleased with Rochester’s pedigree. Under the pinch of both parents the young people in Spain met, and soon got married. In this marriage, Bertha and Rochester, are innocent victims, similarly subject to their parents who make them to the benefit. After the marriage, men’s purpose has come true. Husbands begin to leave their wives alone, and keep lovers. In such marriages, the victim is the women who have no rights to choose their own path of life. They have to listen to parents at home and accept everything parents arranged for them, they never gain the equal opportunity as male. From this sense Bertha can be said to represent those tragic women in the marriage who have no love with their husbands .
In Jane Eyre, Bertha Mason is an unfortunate woman but with the spirit of resistance, brave. Her resistance and struggle in the condition of inhuman show a tragic beauty. It is not dispensable Bertha Mason is the key impersonator in the novel, because her character and every time’s present is an extremely important part to impetus the plot to develop forward unceasingly, and pushes the story to one by one high tide, she plays a status as activator in novel. Bertha promotes Jane Eyre’s plot development, and has in Jane Eyre---the love story. If Jane is famous for added spices, Bertha has the lasting achievements. Jane win happiness and audience’s cheering but Bertha has been misunderstood, all that happen to Bertha are unfair. In fact, if we pay more attention to the social background and think deeply towards Bertha’s action, it will not be difficult to discover Bertha is not lunatic but a conscious woman in struggle and the real reappearance of Britain feminine social
position. She is the direct rebellious against the patriarchy society with violence. Despite she is locked in vault-like room, Rochester closes her information of exists in the world, and she has been denied the right to speak, she is never silent: her tragic pierced howling, passes her own existence to the world; just have a moment of negligence by the guards, she rushes out of the cage to show her existence; when the male society completely ignores her cries, her presence and her life, she lights a burning torch and burns the world imprisoning her. Her tragedy, demonstrates Jane’s high spirit in the struggle for the equal rights of men and women. At the time of she hitting back Rochester's arrogance in sharp language, she using her strong spirit of self-esteem scoff at male superiority of Rochester. Because of the tragic history, Jane Eyre gets this reality struggle spirit of feminism. Thornfield is a symbol of male dominance, Bertha’s life to destroy this illustrates this point, Jane’s new life did not take place in Thornfield---Patriarchy society, but began in the bleak fen Ding Manor---a new world of the equal of male and female.
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