So. Jane Eyre. What a masterpiece. I have no idea how it was possible to write something like this without Microsoft Word. You’ve got to be able to go back and forth to make everything connected like Brontë did. Amazing talent.
Now, who’s with me in that Mrs Rochester wasn’t crazy? Nothing she does qualifies as crazy. She never harms anybody who didn’t harm her. She tries to kill the husband who locked her up and the brother who let it happen but she never does anything to Adele, Sophie, or Mrs Fairfax. When she comes into Jane’s bedroom, does she try to hurt her in any way? Nope. She breaks the wedding veil, sending a clear message about what she thinks of marriage. If she were such a raving lunatic as we are supposed to believe, how would she control her craziness so well around Jane? How come she didn’t trash the room or break anything other than the very meaningful veil?
Rochester said himself that Bertha had stretches of lucidity that lasted for weeks. Imagine being completely normal and lucid and being shut up in a small room with no company and nothing to do. Imagine not being completely normal and being locked up. For 10 years! This is torture. Even a true schizophrenic doesn’t deserve never to be outside or to get a breath of fresh air. Only a very robust psyche could bear all that and still make the moral distinction between the people deserving her rage and people who were innocent. If a guy did that to you, wouldn’t you try to shred him to pieces every time you saw him? She’d be insane if she had no rage against her husband.
The only reason to think that Mrs Rochester is crazy is that she looks insane. But how would you look after being locked in a small room without ever being outside for a decade?
Mr Rochester’s story can be disregarded completely because the guy spends the whole novel running hoaxes on people. He’s pathologically dishonest and lies even when it’s utterly unnecessary.
The novel is so good that it gave rise to the only good prequel I have ever encountered, Wild Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. Her Bertha Mason does, indeed, go crazy but it’s a worthwhile novel.