On the other hand, in the extracts from Wide Sargasso Sea, the story that is told from Bertha’s point of view, Bertha is seen in a more sympathetic light. She is presented as being more a young, naïve child than a beastly animal. Unlike Jane Eyre, where she comes across as wild, in Wide Sargasso Sea her language is more like that of a child. “When was last night?” implies her child-like naïveté. And although Grace Poole isn’t exactly friendly towards her, which indicates her misunderstanding of Bertha’s mental health, she treats her nonetheless as human, she uses no adjectives like “snappish” or “rageous”, instead she only shows impatience to Bertha – “It’s my belief that you remember much more than you pretend to remember”, she reflects her annoyance by trying to make Bertha feel bad for attacking Mr. Rochester and making her seem like a fool – “I’ll never try and do you a good turn again.”.
Imagery is used effectively in each of the extracts to illustrate elements of Hell, things referring to the Devil elements of supernatural. This imagery sets a sense of horror in the reader and they begin to associate this with Bertha which reiterates the bias that was created by the use of dialogue in the two extracts. Examples of this dark imagery in Jane Eyre include phrases like “groaned”, “fear of either death or of something else…”, “trickling gore” and “the maniac” but also references to “Satan himself” and “Judas” give the reader the impression of some un-holy creature being present. Especially in the first extract where Mr. Mason’s injuries are described, the imagery is cleverly used to imply the viciousness of Bertha, it makes her seems even less human, to have been able to inflict such terrible injury. And in the second extract the imagery is used to emphasize her animal characteristics, for example – “…whether beast or human being, one could not, at first sight, tell…” which infers to the reader that Bertha is such a hideous beast that it is difficult to tell what she really is.
However, in Wide Sargasso Sea the only imagery used to suggest and inhuman qualities in Bertha is when the two girls talk about seeing a “ghost”, although, even this suggests humanity because ghosts are normally seen as human.
Ironically, in this extract, unlike the other two, Grace Poole is noted to be more beastly than Bertha herself – “…but I hid it from your beastly eyes…”, Bertha does not see herself as an animal but instead the person who cares for her as he beast, contrasting greatly to the attitudes of the other characters. Grace Poole seems to be some what of an enemy to Bertha in this extract; Bertha doesn’t seem to trust her. It appears to be that the relationship between Bertha and Grace Poole is a less extreme version of Bertha’s relationship with her brother – there is mistrust between each of them.
There are many archaisms in the Jane Eyre extracts, this is due to the fact it was written over a hundred years ago. Examples of these are not only words which aren’t used any more or have changed their meanings like “quarrelling” or “chamber”, but also the way in which sentences are formed for example, “Mr. Mason shortly unclosed his eyes…” and “Mr. Rochester put the now bloody sponge…”
Although, I believe that the biggest archaism in the extracts are the attitudes displayed towards Bertha’s mental health. In Jane Eyre, she is said to be “a murderess” which suggests they believe Bertha is in control of her actions however in Wide Sargasso Sea it is clear that Bertha has little or no knowledge of what she does – “I don’t remember yesterday” and therefore is more like a child. Though, Grace Poole doesn’t seem particularly pleased with the situation in either extract. In the second Jane Eyre extract she is panicked about Mr. Rochester approaching Bertha – “for God’s sake, take care!”, and in Wide Sargasso Sea she tends to ignore Bertha’s many questions, suggesting her impatience with her.
The setting of each of the stories shows further the contrast in the presentation of Bertha. For example, the second extract from Jane Eyre describes a “room without a window”, with a “strong fender” and “a lamp suspended from the ceiling by a chain”, this implies that Bertha is locked away and the fact that the fire is “guarded” suggests that Bertha is likely to hurt herself or someone else. The whole room is described like a prison further implicating Bertha as some crazy, untamed beast.
However, there is, yet again, a great contrast in Wide Sargasso Sea. The only thing to suggest unpleasantness is the fact that Bertha says she feels “so cold”. The rest of the description explains that she has a red dress and shoes that she is fond of telling us that she is in fact human after all, to have possessions shows her humanity. Bertha’s mistrust is highlighted once more here, when she accuses Grace of hiding her “red dress” and how she hides the letter she wrote to her brother, Mr. Rochester – “It’s all here, it’s all here, but I hid it from your beastly eyes as I hide everything...”.
To sum up, the two authors’ presentations of Bertha are very different. Reasons for this could be the change in thoughts towards mental health over the years but mainly it is the use of dialogue, imagery and setting that creates the contrast so well.