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Analyse the ways in which Bronte presents the wedding of Jane and Rochester and the discovery of Bertha in Chapter 26

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We are introduced first to a girl who was an orphan adopted by her uncle, who also died shortly after. This girl, Jane, was left in the care of her Aunt; Mrs. Reed, with her cousins, one of which called John who bullied her. The green-eyed monster got the better of Mrs. Reed and Jane suffered from her as well; there was no one who would take her side of the story. Mrs. Reed thought of Jane as an unnatural child and occasionally locked her in the red room where Jane’s uncle passed away. Being an imaginative child who would get lost in pictures from books, Jane would always see terrifying things, including ghosts.

Jane was then sent away from Gateshead to a school called Lowood. Jane was tagged as a liar there and only made one friend, Helen, but she passed away as did many children when disease struck the school. We’ve seen all the people Jane loved dearly leave her. Jane finally advertised and came to the place that she came to love so much; Thornfield Hall that was surrounded by moors and wildness that symbolise the master’s nature as well.

We see Jane as an accomplished woman, but still not fitting the Victorian ideal, teaching the vain Adele and making a great friend, Mr. Rochester who is much older and changeable in his behaviour; he’s not exactly the Victorian ideal either. Through the rude statements made by the Ingrams an insight into Victorian attitudes towards governesses is seen. Jane finds out that she has an uncle living; this revealed by Mrs. Reed on her deathbed. The reader has been given many clues that there is a mystery in the heart of Thornfield: strange noises, tearing of wedding veil, fires and vicious attacks. However, during all this, Jane doesn’t ask any questions.

Rochester admits he loves Jane and they plan to get married despite much disapproval, even from Mrs. Fairfax. Suddenly, all Jane’s hopes and dreams are crushed with the news of another wife living in Thornfield Hall; Bertha Mason. After all the bluffing made by Rochester trying to look innocent, he admits that the news is true. Jane, deeply shocked and upset, runs away and gives herself a new identity only to find more relatives and inherit quite a large sum of money. After a refused proposal from St. John, Jane realises her heart belongs to Rochester and she runs back to a destroyed Thornfield.

She is told of the fire started by mad Bertha, Rochester’s wife and how this has caused Rochester to lose sight in his eye. Jane comes to his rescue and they finally get married and have a son. Rochester then regains his sight. This is the story of Jane Eyre, but I will focus on Chapter 26; the climax of the book. From the beginning of Jane and Rochester’s encounter, Bronte makes it known to the reader that there is a difference in status. Jane is just a governess, but Rochester owns Thornfield and is worth twenty thousand pounds whereas all the money Jane has in the world is just a few shillings.

Jane was not accepted by the Ingrams who were upperclass just as Rochester is; this was further emphasised by their rude remarks towards governesses. Mrs. Fairfax, being on the same level as Jane also made it clear of their different social classes and age difference. Mrs. Fairfax’s reaction to the news of Jane and Rochester’s plan to get married was an absolute shock, but it wasn’t the usual happy sort. She thought Jane had more sense than to marry an older man and was too young to know what love was. It was thought unwise by Mrs. Fairfax; therefore it would be thought much worse by the upperclass and Victorian society.

Everything is already cursed. Then, there is another bad omen as they go against tradition by not having their engagement announced at a social event; there hardly is an engagement as there is less than a month’s preparation. It is usually six months preparation minimum. Bronte presents Mr. Rochester as not someone who is a conventional hero as he was “impatient of” Jane’s “delay” and “sent up to ask” why Jane wasn’t coming down. In a traditional Christian wedding the bridegroom should not ask when the bride is arriving as she has the right to be “fashionably late”.

There has already been a bad omen before the wedding. Jane Eyre doesn’t wear the elaborate veil Mr. Rochester chose for her; it was ripped. She has no choice but to wear the plain veil she originally chose: “the plain square of blond after all”. Despite being upset that the veil was ripped, Jane is also glad as she prefers plain things which are symbolic to the impression she has of being “plain Jane”. Bronte presents Jane with a lack of vanity: after Sophie dresses her Jane “hurries from her hands” as soon as she can and doesn’t take “one peep”.

This is another unconventional characteristic. A bride usually wants to make sure she looks beautiful for the most important day of her life, but Jane is hurried and can’t wait to get away. The fact that she doesn’t really give much thought into her appearance suggests she isn’t the ideal Victorian bride; hence the marriage will not be ideal. There is bad luck because Rochester sees Jane before the wedding: “I was received at the foot of the stairs”. It is a father or male relative’s duty to receive the bride and give her away; the bridegroom should be at the altar.

Bronte emphasises the fact that the environment around Jane and Rochester is purely speed. Rochester gives “but ten minutes” for Jane “to eat some breakfast”. This makes everything more tense and dramatic for the reader because everything is being hurried. When something is going at a high speed it has to stop eventually and when it does the after affects are disastrous therefore this suggests to the reader that the ceremony will not end well. A traditional Christian wedding has many guests however for Jane and Rochester there were “no groomsmen, no bridesmaids, no relatives”.

Bronte uses the word “no” three times for the reader to remember the fact that they are going against tradition and makes everything seem even more daunting. Also, the “no” being said three times emphasises how everything is unconventional and to foreshadow that there will be no wedding either. She describes the church as “the grey old house of God”, this represents gloom and there is nothing bright which is what is usually associated with a wedding. Jane also sees a “rook” which is a bad omen because it symbolises death.

This implies to the reader that there is only darkness to follow as there is also a “ruddy morning sky beyond” which is a technique commonly used by Bronte: pathetic fallacy. There are “two figures of strangers” who are “reading the mementoes graven on the few mossy head-stones”. This is also related to death like the “rook” and all this is noticed by Jane. It suggests to the reader that something may die or be ruined; possibly the ceremony. The suspicion of the men lurking and reading gravestones makes everything even more sinister. She is not describing everything elaborately which is very unusual.

Jane shouldn’t be thinking these dark thoughts; it makes the ceremony seem to be doomed. The reader realises there is no music or decorations because Jane describes nothing but Rochester “walking” her “gently up the path to the porch. This is another curse on their wedding. There is no atmosphere created for a wedding which is the job of decorations and music. Consequently, this effect made by Bronte makes the reader feel that there will be no wedding. Jane had “doubted not” that the strangers were going “to enter by the side-aisle door and witness the ceremony”.

The reader already knows that there are no guests, so the strangers are already suspected of interrupting the ceremony. The ceremony is very short and it is already interrupted by the “existence of an impediment”. Jane is dragged to church in an unconventional manner: “hurried along by a stride” she could “hardly follow” and this is from the bridegroom who should not even be there. As he hurries her, she describes him “so bent up to a purpose, so grimly resolute” and reveals “such flaming and flashing eyes” under his “steadfast brows”. The description of him should be happy, not rushing Jane.

It seems as if it is more a duty than a pleasure. Bronte uses alliteration to make the description even more unusual and effective: “bent” and “brows”. This also implies he’s running away from something and wants to escape by marrying Jane as soon as possible. Rochester has a very firm state of mind: “grimly resolute”. He is acting as if he is a man on a mission and “grimly” suggests that his resolution is negative instead of positive and he has a firm state of mind. This is bizarre because a bridegroom’s resolution is traditionally supposed to be happy; this could imply that there may also be a bad outcome.

Bronte presents Rochester to have a hidden agenda as “he appeared to fasten a glance fierce and fell” and Jane wanted to “feel the thoughts whose force he seemed breasting and resisting”. The reader realises that there is something in his mind that he won’t share, not even with Jane and he is not giving his attention to her. This could mean that something awful may happen.

Rochester is presented with two sides when the ceremony is interrupted: “How his eyes shone, still watchful and yet wild beneath! The word “beneath” is used to show that his eyes being “wild” is the layer he’s trying to hide from everyone and instead look only “watchful” to everyone else. This also implies to the reader that the news that has just been announced could be true as he doesn’t look completely innocent. Rochester tries to keep his dignity: “how like quarried marble was his pale, firm, massive front at this moment! ” The fact that the colour is “pale” shows that Rochester is trying to look guiltless by not showing any reaction. This is different from an innocent man who would be shocked, most likely angry.

Bronte uses a tough, strong, hard material, “marble” and “flint” which implies that Rochester is unfeeling. “Quarried” suggests that it’s not polished and a secret is possibly being dug up. Rochester is commanding even on his own wedding day and to the clergyman in a house of God; this is another characteristic that is against tradition. Bronte uses an imperative to show this: “Proceed”. This shows that Rochester is very determined and confident; he expects this command to dismiss the allegation. He’s also very stubborn as he will do anything: “to be a bigamist”.

This implies to the reader that there must be something very serious for him to react like this and to be so firm. Rochester becomes very possessive of Jane as “he twined” her “waist with his arm and riveted” her “to his side”. The word “twined” suggests that he wants to wrap her around him so she can’t escape like a rope. Also, the word “riveted” relates to metal being put together. This is another example of Bronte using raw, hard materials to describe Rochester and emphasises the fact that Rochester wants to own Jane (this reflects his possessive nature) and he doesn’t want to let go of her.

This could also imply that he has no feeling of love because he doesn’t know what Jane’s feelings are, but will still keep her. On top of that, the reader may come to realise that he is hiding something; otherwise he wouldn’t be scared of losing her. It is ironic that the reader sees him being possessive and wanting to imprison Jane in his arms as it is later discovered that he has imprisoned his mad wife Bertha. Rochester is presented as one not to give up: “Mr. Rochester heard, but heeded not”. He was hearing but not listening, more importantly he didn’t want to listen.

The reader realises Bronte slowly changes Rochester from a bridegroom to someone whose “whole face was colourless rock”. This shows that his emotions are drained and his face is plain to try not to show his true feelings which are actually shown somewhere else “: his eye was both spark and flint”. A colon is used to show an opposite idea to him being “colourless” and tough; his true feeling which is actually fury. The way his eye is being described enables the reader to imagine fire and the possibility of danger ahead as flint is a rock that creates fire.

It is soon after when the suspicion created by this description of danger lurking ahead is confirmed. The fire that burns so brightly in his eyes is started again by Bertha and causes him to go blind; he brought this on himself. Rochester tries to bluff his way out of the accusation. He asks to be “favoured with an account” of his other wife; “her name, her parentage, her place of abode”. He uses the word “her” three times to emphasise that he doesn’t have a wife and he is being wrongly judged. However, this could also make the reader think he seems more guilty because he’s trying too hard.

There are more images of fire: “ascending heart-fire”. This shows that his rage is building up and it’s very deep because its from the heart. Bronte structures everything like this to show that there will be a climax. Bronte presents Rochester as an irreligious man, who blasphemes, even in Church: “go to hell”, “no, by God” or “good God! ” This shows that he has little respect for the Church and God. Also, this may imply that something must have happened to him for him to be like this. The reader sees that this may be another reason of why the marriage failed. His nature could have brought this upon himself.

There is another example of this as he finally admits he was about to be a “bigamist”. He lied and knew he would be a bigamist. This is both criminal against law and God. He has tried to break the moral code and this is a major sin. The reader sees that Rochester looks and acts very unconventionally, but this is also seen from Jane. She doesn’t speak or do anything, but she says that she is “collected, and in no danger of swooning”. The fact that she “collects” her feelings as if they are objects is very unusual. A typical bride would be distraught and act and do things very differently; it is very stereotypical for the bride to faint.

She decides not to show any rush of feelings or “swoon” because she sees it as a “danger” and bottles everything up. The reader knows her true feelings however as she says “my nerves vibrated to those low spoken words as they had never vibrated to thunder” and her “blood felt their subtle violence as it had never felt frost or fire”. She has reacted but only inside and won’t reflect it on the outside. The word “thunder” is another example of pathetic fallacy and how what she believes about everything has been struck so suddenly. On top of that, the words “fire” and “frost” show that what she has just heard is evil and shuddering.

This mirrors the views of the Victorian society would have. Afterwards, the reader sees that Jane’s unconventional nature is emphasised as she is the one who comes to Rochester’s rescue when he becomes blind; it is usually the male hero who comes to rescue his love. Rochester finally capitulates and admits he has a wife. He claims he was tricked into marrying her. Being the younger son, not expecting to inherit the estate from his father, his father wanted him to marry someone wealthy like Bertha so Rochester will live a full life, but his father died and soon after his older brother.

As a result, Rochester inherited the whole estate which is now seen as a prison by him because of the maniac living there. Bertha, he claims was not what she seemed. Bertha is presented as a “mysterious lunatic” before her name is even mentioned by Rochester. This shows how low he thinks of her to present her to everyone with the theme of madness first so they don’t think so badly of him. Also, he doesn’t think of her as a wife who he loves, but just a mad person. Rochester tells everyone of the family history: “mad family; idiots and maniacs through three generations”.

The reader may see a racist implication: “Her mother, the Creole, was both a madwoman and a drunkard! “. Bertha’s mother’s background is not relevant but he’s using it in the same sentence when he talks about madness. The fact that Bertha is not English is something that Rochester uses for it to be harder for him to be judged because he knows that the Victorian society are less sympathetic towards people from different backgrounds; he is using this to his advantage.

Rochester implies that Bertha is not a wife to him as he says “Mrs. Poole’s patient, and my wife! The way he says it by shouting shows that he is being sarcastic because he believes Bertha doesn’t deserve the title of a wife and he’d rather refer to her as Mrs. Poole’s patient first than his own wife. Rochester tries to justify himself even more: “what sort of a being I was cheated into espousing, and judge whether or not I had a right to break the compact”. He says he was tricked into marrying her therefore he should have the right to marry Jane. He is presenting himself as the victim, but he doesn’t seem to be thinking about what Jane is feeling at this moment.

The reader may think he’s selfish and more worried about keeping his dignity. Rochester says he wanted “to seek sympathy with something at least human”. This is referring to Jane and tells the reader that Rochester sees Bertha as inhumane. This suggests that the Victorian society also see mentally ill people as inhumane. Bronte uses the effect of rhyme to emphasise to the reader that Bertha is “a bad, mad, and embruted partner! ” This effect is very useful because it doesn’t let the reader forget this. “Embruted” suggests Bertha is like an animal and she’s beastly.

In a Christian view, an animal is thought to have no soul, therefore Bertha isn’t thought to have one either. The reader becomes more aware of Bertha’s animal-like personality as the reader finds out that Bertha is the one that “bit and stabbed” Mason; her own brother. This shows the extent of her illness as she doesn’t recognise that she almost killed her own brother. Bertha has no freedom because she is “in a room without a window”. This shows the theme of darkness because there is no window to let sunlight in. This also shows that her condition has no solution for her to be imprisoned like this.

The room she’s imprisoned in symbolises how she’s imprisoned in society and she’s cut off from it as well as she is seen as a disappointment by Rochester. Bertha’s appearance is also referred to as dark as she is described as having a “purple face”. This could be thought of as racist as it is clear that Victorians weren’t exactly fond of people with dark skin. Bertha’s beastly nature is emphasised when Jane describes her: “a figure ran backwards and forwards. What it was, whether beast or human being”. Bertha’s appearance is like an animal which is how Victorian society saw mad people.

She is then referred to as “it” telling the reader that she doesn’t look or act human at all: “it grovelled, seemingly, on all fours; it snatched and growled like some strange wild animal: but it was covered with clothing”. This shows that Bertha will not speak like a human being, but instead like an animal. There is another example of this: “bellowed”. An opposite side is shown with the colon to her being an animal; she is wearing clothes like a human. There is more darkness associated with Bertha as her “head and face” are hidden by “a quantity of dark, grizzled hair”.

This makes everything seem even more terrifying and it is clear that her appearance is not like that of an ideal Victorian woman who ties her hair back. Then, there is more emphasis on her unfeminine appearance: “wild as mane”, “shaggy locks”. Jane is comparing Bertha’s hair to a mane which is usually what a lion has; therefore Bertha is seen as dangerous and wild. There could also be a racist implication here as well because a lion is not an English creature and Victorian society prefers the woman to be very fair which is the complete opposite to Bertha.

Bertha is presented as sometimes to be “rageous”. This immediately makes the reader think of fire and maybe even hell. This is blasphemous as it relates to hell and suggests that Victorian Society saw mentally ill people as wicked. They weren’t seen as victims of an illness, but they were seen as committing a sin against Christianity and God. Bertha is described as a cross between a “hyena” and a human which is even worse than being just an animal or just human. It is further emphasised when Jane says: “the clothed hyena rose up, and stood tall on its hind-feet.

Bertha is seen as very dangerous when Mrs. Poole warns Rochester: “for God’s sake, take care! ” For her to blaspheme, shows that Bertha must be very dangerous for Mrs. Poole to refer to God; Bertha is evil. This again relates to society’s views as well. Bertha is presented as being very “cunning”. So much that a “mortal” would not be able to “fathom her craft”. This tells the reader that she is also clever and can trick people easily as they can’t always tell what she’s hiding.

Bertha’s different appearance from the Victorian ideal is described vividly again when she is said to be “a big woman”, “in stature almost equalling her husband” and being “corpulent” (fat). She is then described as if she is manly: “virile force in the contest-more than once she almost throttled him, athletic as he was”. This shows that she is completely different from what the society would expect from her and they would probably sympathise more with Rochester. Rochester used “rope” to finally “master” Bertha’s “arms”.

This is ironic as before this the reader saw that he wanted to “twine” Jane like a rope to his side as well except with Jane it was because he loved her and with Bertha its to save himself from her attacking him; the reader sees the contrast. The reader sees how Bertha may be the cause of Rochester’s bitterness and changeable behaviour as his “smile was both acrid and desolate”. This refers again to darkness and being bitter. Rochester emphasises the contrast between Bertha and Jane. Jane is a “young girl, who stands so grave and quiet at the mouth of hell”.

He is saying Bertha is like hell and Jane is innocent who won’t say anything looking at “the gambols of a demon”. Bertha is further made to look evil by being compared to a demon for being this mad and tricking him into marrying her. He claims his marriage to Bertha was a living hell: “fierce ragout”. He compares Jane’s “clear eyes” to the red balls yonder” associating Bertha to hell again. Jane’s “clear eyes” are symbolic to her clear conscience unlike Bertha who is presented as having sinned just for being mad; this reflects the views of Victorian Society.

Rochester is using a lot of blasphemous remarks when describing Jane and Bertha. Bertha is also seen as being dark and revolting because of it as her face is referred to as a mask, but Jane actually has a face. The reader also realises that a Victorian ideal woman should be thin as Rochester compares Jane’s “form” with “that bulk”. Rochester then feels that he has justified himself enough: “with what judgement ye judge ye shall be judged! ” This almost sounds like a threat but he could just want to say to the clergyman and lawyer: don’t judge me because you will be judged also.

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