- "I desired liberty for liberty I gasped, for liberty I uttered a prayer.
It seemed scattered on the wind than faintly blowing.
I abandoned it and framed a humbler supplication for change, stimulus."
Me during the quarantine.
Robbing about the more with your star cross jerk boyfriend, when all the signs be they supernatural or mundane have gathered to tell you that this romance is kind of messy sis.
Plus spooky manners and constantly roaring winds.
We must be in the Bronte zone.
(upbeat music) "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte was there for the weird girls, the quiet ones who watched and listened, the ones who pinned away for someone to accept them in all of their weird dark, Doc Martin glory.
But in the nearly 175 years since its publication the content definition of what it means to be a woman on the outside of society has changed and expanded dramatically as it should.
And yet here we are still dissecting Charlotte Bronte's words and gravitating towards Jane as a protagonist.
For those of you who have never read "Jane Eyre" or enjoyed one of the 8,000 films, television stage or media adaptations not to mention the countless literary retellings I mean so many, let's get into it.
Written and published in 1847 under the pen name Currer Bell, call back a previous video I was in it, check it out.
"Jane Eyre" concerns the life story of a particular heroin from childhood up until her mid twenties.
You know, the only years that really matter for a woman.
Jane an orphan child is left to the care of her wealthy but highly abusive awning cousins who verbally, emotionally and physically torment her to the point where any self defense is labeled as her acting out.
She is sent away to an austere boarding school for girls, not even in the fun way where the headmaster is equally abusive and cruel watching as her fellow classmates are all punished near starved.
And in the case of her best friend there left to die from infectious disease.
Several years later, after reaching adulthood Jane leaps at the opportunity to see more of the world when she takes a governance position at the totally creepy mansion Thornfield Hall which is owned by the curmudgeonly Edward Rochester.
From there on the story, splits into two paths.
I'm totally in love with this jerk face boss who lies to me and plays mind games with me because I'm the help and completely below his station romance and the wait, why do I hear creepy laughing and footsteps every single night and wow who is setting beds on fire Gothic fiction.
The two genres women are absolutely the best at, who can lie.
It's Mr. Rochester's mentally ill wife Bertha.
Say hi Bertha.
Also spoiler alert.
Jane doesn't find out about Bertha until seconds before she almost marries Mr. Rochester.
Real keeper of a guy, but we can fix him.
Will Jane and Mr. Rochester's dark toured romance finally be realized?
Will Jane find the self love and confidence to stand up for herself?
Well, wait, he locked a woman in an attic like this is a romantic lead?
While immensely popular and beloved today.
Having sold hundreds of thousands of copies in the last 50 years alone and translated into dozens of languages including Esperanto, okay, flex.
It is perhaps for the best that "Eyre" was published under a pseudonym as critics were eager to rip it into shreds for its comparatively dark moody heroin and content.
Said contemporary critic and historian Elizabeth, lady Eastlake of the book.
"We do not hesitate to say that the tone of mind and thought which is overthrown authority and violated every code, human and divine abroad and fostered Chartism and rebellion at home is the same which has also written 'Jane Eyre'."
Wow, tell us what you really think of it.
But where "Jane Eyre" becomes important is its place in the tradition of the buildings Roman.
Or simply a novel about a person's formative years.
While "Jane Eyre" is not the first novel told from a lower middle class women's point of view.
It is the first noticeable buildings Roman that has one as its main subject.
It is also told in the first person putting the reader directly into her thoughts and forming worldview across the years.
The idea of the self is a priority in the text.
Since Jane isn't gutted by heroics but what she thinks is good for her and what will keep her alive.
Towards the end of the book Jane is presented with the opportunity to be a good middle class English woman.
When the stuffy self righteous minister St. John proposes to her and promises to take her with him to India as a missionary, serious colonization vibes there.
But at the last minute, Jane takes a look at him and says, hmm, nah, I'm gonna go back to the crazy, philandering, lying bag of hammers that is Mr. Rochester.
I mean, he's Byronic don't you think.
Again, call back, I was in that video.
Have you watched it?
Said professor of literature Sharon Lousey, "In this respect 'Jane Eyre' is atypical in its appropriation of the male pattern of development for its protagonist.
Jane's story begins as theirs due in her childhood when she is 10.
Female protagonists of the courtship novels mentioned above rarely ever leave home or do so only within the prescribed orbits of young women preparing to marry.
'Jane Eyre' on the other hand moved through the world like a boy."
But if we're gonna talk about "Jane Eyre", Rochester and what this book has meant for feminist literature then we need to talk about Bertha.
Rochester's wife that he kept in the attic for over a decade because women be crazy.
Bertha is the trope namer of the term mad woman in the attic.
Authors in the 19th century were confined to make women either angels or monsters.
And in that binary we have Jane and Bertha.
In their foundational criticism "The Mad Woman in the Attic" authors, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar defined this binary between the two women as the main confrontation of the novel calling it, "A secret dialogue of self and soul on whose outcome we shall see the novels plot Rochester's fate and Jane's coming of age all depend.
Bertha in other words is Jane's truest and darkest double, the angry aspect of the orphan child, the ferocious secret self Jane has been trying to repress ever since her days at Gateshead."
Bertha Mason in "Jane Eyre" is the evil ghost-like woman who haunts Thornfield Hall only seen through the perspective of Rochester who views her as a toxic beauty.
"I thought I loved her.
Her relatives encouraged me, competitors piqued me.
She allured me, a marriage was achieved almost before I knew where I was.
Oh, I have no respect for myself when I think of that act, I never loved, I never esteemed, I did not even know her."
Alexa played the world's smallest violin.
Rochester sees himself as a victim of the Mason family who didn't tell him about Bertha's mental state.
And when she started to deteriorate Rochester locked her in the house for 10 years which I'm a sure 100% had no side effects on her mental health whatsoever.
And we're supposed to root for this guy.
Bertha stands in the way of Jane and Rochester because Rochester never divorced her.
And so he would be a bigamist if he married Jane which is bad.
While Bertha's race is and can be assumed to be white.
There's an implication of otherness in how he compares Jane to Bertha due to Bertha being Creole, a white person raised in the West Indies.
She's got a little too much seasoning for Rochester's English palette if you get by drift.
When relating why he was picked by the Mason's Rochester says, "Her family wished to secure me because I was of a good race.
And so did she."
This could have many implications including that Bertha's family may have somewhere down the line mixed with the black population and were no longer perceived as fully white.
As Susan L Meyer, professor of English at Wellesley College explains, "An interpretation of the significance of the British empire in 'Jane Eyre' must begin by making sense of Bertha Mason Rochester, the mad drunken West Indian wife, who Rochester keeps locked up on the third floor of his ancestral mansion."
Bertha is killed in the burning of Thornfield Hall which she does, that also leaves Rochester blind.
She jumps to her death, freeing herself from imprisonment which you know, honestly good for her in the end.
How sympathetic Bertha was supposed to be in the 19th century is a little hard to understand since she is such a haunting figure in the novel but in a post-colonial sense, Bertha is utterly tragic especially because Rochester basically says it wasn't me in terms of taking any accountability for the situation that caused them to be married like grow up, dude, you're an adult.
Hence why we need to go to the greatest wave readers can examine text, fan fiction with "Wide Sargasso Sea".
Written by white Dominican author Jean Rhys, "White Sargasso Sea" is a response to "Jane Eyre" which tells Bertha's story.
Bertha becomes Antoinette Cosway, an heiress in Jamaica.
And her story is broken into three parts that discuss her childhood, marriage to a nameless Englishman, and then her fate in England as a captive.
In part one, we see Antoinette's childhood on a sugar plantation that has gone belly up since slavery was abolished.
Yay, suck it.
Antoinette's mother attempts to marry another different wealthy Englishman in order to fix their money problems.
Hearing this through the grape vine the freed slaves end up burning down the plantation which result in Antoinette's brother passing away and exacerbating all the mental health issues that already exist within the family.
One of the most iconic scenes of the book is when Antoinette goes to a black Jamaican girl named Tia to try to escape the reality of her burning home during this small revolt.
"As I ran, I thought I will live with Tia and I will be like her.
When I was close, I saw the jagged stone in her hand but I did not see her throw it.
I did not feel it either, only something wet running down my face.
I looked at her and I saw her face crumple up as she began to cry.
We stare at each other blood on my face, tears on her.
It was as if I saw myself like in a looking glass."
The character of Tia is a foil for Bertha as a black girl of the same age.
During the fire Bertha, Antoinette goes to Tia and Tia throws a rock at her because despite Antoinette thinking they are the same, Tia knows that she's the daughter of freed slaves, just in the same way the English Jane is a perfect example of white superiority over Bertha and her tainted implied otherness.
In part two Rochester complains a lot about being in the Caribbean.
"I hated the mountains and the hills, the rivers and the rain.
I hated the sunsets of whatever color.
I hated its beauty and its magic and the secret I would never know.
I hated its indifference and the cruelty which was part of its loveliness.
Above all I hated her for she belonged to the magic and the loveliness.
She had left me thirsty and all my life would be thirst and longing for what I had lost before I found it."
Can someone get this man a Laqua.
It's too hot.
It's got too many bugs.
Man I miss England and my under seasoned food.
Also I don't care or respected my wife's mental illness so I'm gonna mess around, rub it in her face because she may be crazy, but I'm a man so ah.
Does it show I'm not a fan of Rochester?
Is my bias showing?
What we see in Rochester or this nameless man in this passage is a man who feels unable to deal with things he cannot control and what he cannot control, he loathes.
A sentiment that does not seem so far off from the man we meet in "Jane Eyre".
Finally part three Antoinette's transformation into Bertha is complete, she has lost all sense of time.
As would you, if you were stuck in an attic for 10 years by your husband.
"There is no looking glass here.
And I don't know what I'm like now.
I remember watching myself brush my hair and how my eyes looked back at me.
The girl I saw was myself yet not quite myself.
Long ago when I was a child and very lonely, I tried to kiss her, but the glass was between us, hard, cold, and misted over with my breath.
Now they have taken everything away.
What am I doing in this place?
And who am I?"
Literary theorist, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak explains, "In the a figure of Antoinette who Rochester violently renames Bertha, Rhys suggests that so intimate a thing as personal and human identity might be determined by the politics of imperialism.
Antoinette is a white Creole child growing up at the time of emancipation in Jamaica, is caught between the English imperialist and the black native.
In this fictive, England she must play out her role, act out of the transformation of herself into that fictive other, set fire to the house and kill herself so that Jane Eyre can become the feminist individualist heroine of British fiction."
"White Sargasso Sea" is exhibit A about how fan fiction and metatential examinations can have real literary value when copyright doesn't get in the way.
It doesn't make "Jane Eyre" a weaker book but highlights things that Bronte would not have been aware of.
Bronte talks about the realities of poor working women and does great work of giving sad, awkward brunettes a true heroin, but then you get Bertha, a mentally ill woman who has been put into a horrific situation by her husband.
And the book goes, "Jane, what am I" Responsible for actually getting to know the woman I'm gonna marry" This is the 19th century.
She's lucky, I'm rich and white."
That's why she even gets to live in an attic of a mansion.
She could just be living in the attic of a townhouse.
That would be tragic.
In perhaps one of the most famous lines from the novel, Jane thinking, Mr. Rochester is gonna marry a woman of society cries out to her star crossed lover.
"Do you think because I am poor, obscure, plain and little.
I am soulless and heartless?
You are wrong.
I have as much soul as you and full as much heart.
It is my spirit that addresses your spirit just as if both had pastored the grave.
And we stood at God's feet equal as we are."
"Jane Eyre" the novels plead to the humanity of women of the lower station is both its greatest staying power and one of its most glaring weaknesses in how it manages to advocate for acceptance while still creating an other in Bertha who is not extended the same sort of compassion.
In many ways Bertha is a foil to Helen Burns, Jane's childhood friend who dies young and is a perfect Christian.
Bertha is all of the women that were seen as impure, impure in their race, impure in their mental health and dangerous because of both.
It is racist and ableist Victorian BS.
And it has made Bertha a legend and her burning Rochester's house is one of literature's best good for her moments.
And really all this is over a man who literally dresses in racist drag so he can manipulate two women in hopes of making Jane jealous?
Justice for Bertha and honestly good for Jane for at least waiting until she secured her own bag to get her Byronic husband, because sadly viewer, she married him.