Comment on the authors presentation of Bertha Rochester in the extracts from Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea.

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Comment on the authors’ presentation of Bertha Rochester in the extracts from Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea.

There is huge contrast of how Bertha is presented in each of the extracts; in the Jane Eyre extracts, Bertha is portrayed as a wild and inhuman beast, she is presented in this way to give the reader a prejudice against her and to make them favour Jane’s character. Whereas in Wide Sargasso Sea she is shown to have more human qualities, the story reflects Bertha in a more sympathetic light.

There are obvious differences with the use of dialogue in each extract. For example, in the first extract there is very little; most of the speech comes from Mr. Rochester barking orders at Jane – “Hold that”. Commands like these show Mr. Rochester’s authority over Jane.

After Mr. Rochester leaves the room there is no more speech which leaves the author free to describe the setting and begin to build up the bias she wants the reader to have against Bertha – “a murderess” is the phrase used to describe Bertha in this extract and Jane thinks that the utter thought of Bertha being so close “appalling”. The little dialogue leads the reader to think that Bertha is an inhuman object; she is never called by name.

However, there is more dialogue in the second Jane Eyre extract although in spite of this, it does not do Bertha any favours. It still gives Bertha a bad reputation by the way she is said to have “bit and stabbed…” this gives the reader an idea of her animal-like qualities, if you can call them that. When Mr. Rochester greets Grace Poole the biased approach continues against Bertha by the way Grace describes the condition of Bertha on that day as “rather snappish, but not rageous”, this again plays on Bertha’s beastliness.

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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 ...

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