What character differences are there between Jane Eyre and Bertha Mason in the book Jane Eyre?

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Jane and Bertha and often read as doubles of each other—that is, Bertha is in some ways a prefiguration of what Jane is or will become if she accepts Rochester's illicit proposal.

On the face of it, Jane and Bertha could not be more different. Bertha (we learn from Rochester) is the daughter of a well-to-do Jamaican family; Jane is a poor orphan. Bertha has unnatural sexual appetites, while Jane's sexuality is repressed. Bertha is violently insane, whereas Jane is prim and proper, even repressed. Bertha is a prisoner, while Jane is relatively free. But in many ways, Bertha's insanity is an expression of the anger Jane feels at her own status as unloved poor relation. At Gateshead, we get a glimpse of the anger inside Jane, as she bitterly castigates Mrs Reed. Like Jane, Bertha's insanity stems in part from her mistreatment by her family, who clearly see her as "damaged goods" that they are lucky enough to palm off on Rochester. Jane, however, is lucky enough to be plain and does not merit...

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 1, 2020