The Insane Mrs.Rochester or the Romantic Apologia of Pyromania

Шовкопляс, Галина Євгенівна (2015) The Insane Mrs.Rochester or the Romantic Apologia of Pyromania Кременецькі Компаративні Студії, У (2). pp. 193-200. ISSN 2311-262Х

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Abstract

The image of Bertha Mason, the insane wife of Mr. Rochester in Charlotte Bronte’s „Jane Eyre“ strikes the attentive reader as a character with a dual nature: in the present she is an ugly and frightening creature; in the past – a beautiful woman, tall and regal, the first beauty of the exotic Spanish Town in Jamaica. Her image arises in dualistic ambivalence in the novel, standing on the border of its two components: the romantic side and the realistic one. In the formulaic romantic plane this image is nothing more than a function which initiates and concludes the love story of the novel, the reason that the Byronic character falls from grace. It’s connected to the darker side of Rochester’s mystery. In the realistic plane the image of Bertha Mason is barely outlined and takes the form of a victim of circumstance: an unhappy child from a family with a hereditary illness; a woman doomed to a terrible fate. Bertha’s inheritance from her family is her clinical pyromania. The fire both attracts and tortures her. The French philosopher Gaston Bachelard points to the dual nature of fire in his book “The psychoanalysis of flame”: it promises warmth and pleasure yet threatens with pain, it hints both at creation and destruction. The ambivalent nature of fire transfers itself onto Bertha Mason’s image in a similar way, joining the romantic and realistic components of Bronte’s novel. Jean Rhys’s novel, titled “Wide Sargasso Sea” (1966) tells the story of a creole woman named Antoinette Cosway. The image of the protagonist in the novel was inspired by Bertha Mason in Bronte’s “Jane Eyre”. In this “prequel-novel” to Bronte’s work, Rhys not only develops and deepens the formerly marginal character of Bertha, but also gives her heroine a voice: the insane, miserable Bertha can now tell the story of her life through the lips of Antoinette Cosway, a story about love, unhappy marriage and madness. The small amount of realistic content allotted by Bronte to Bertha’s character (basically – just a few facts) was used by Rhys to create a fully-fledged backstory, freeing the image from being a simple “ghost of unhappy love” from Bronte’s novel. Key words: two principles of writing; gothic element; “Thornfield episode”; gothic canon; Byronic character; ambivalent image; pyromania; the dual nature of fire; Gaston Bachelard on the dual nature of fire; Jean Rhys’s prequel-novel.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Two principles of writing; gothic element; “Thornfield episode”; gothic canon; Byronic character; ambivalent image; pyromania; the dual nature of fire; Gaston Bachelard on the dual nature of fire; Jean Rhys’s prequel-novel.
Subjects: Articles in journals > Наукові (входять до інших наукометричних баз, крім перерахованих, мають ISSN, DOI, індекс цитування)
Articles in journals > Збірники наукових праць
Divisions: Institutes > Humanitarian Institute > Chair of World Literature
Depositing User: доцент Галина Євгенівна Шовкопляс
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2015 12:12
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2015 12:12
URI: http://elibrary.kubg.edu.ua/id/eprint/12100

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