Jane Eyre: the concept of madness
The character which embodies the concept of madness in Jane Eyre is undoubtedly Bertha Mason, the first wife of Edward Rochester.
In the novel, It's found out that the origin of Bertha's madness is genetic or in any case organic, explaining that she was born on a creole family of South American origins, in which even in his brother and perhaps some other family member was evident hereditary heredity. Unfortunately, Rochester finds out Bertha's madness only when the wedding had been celebrated and from there, Bertha began to descend into the underworld.
The noises that can be heard in the attic of the manor house, are events that occur without any apparent reason, such as the sudden fires or strange appearances. All of those are masterfully introduced by Brontë to characterize the novel of a Gothic / Horror background, which dissolves then for the sake of a tragic reality, such as an imprisonment of a sick woman trapped in the attic. That was a solution taken by Rochester in order to not abandon his wife to an even more tragic destiny she would have find in a female asylum.
In Bertha's madness it seems to be some trace of mental acuity when she realizes that her husband was going to remarry and, while trying to kill both of them on several occasions, in the end, she decides to throw herself out of the roof while the house is burning down. It's almost seems like she wants to get out of the stage to create an happy ending for her husband and her lover.
As already noted point of view in some studies, It's told that there is little interest in Rochester and Jane in regards of Bertha, a metaphor of the colonial world enslaved by white people.
There had been a lot of discussions about a possible ethnocentric idea in Brontë, that is to say, man's supremacy on the old continent, which produces an astonishingly obvious disinterest towards the crazy and, more seriously, the reasons for madness of the woman.
In other studies, many intellectuals believe that Bertha representes something more intimate into the author's life and concept of the society she lived in, implying that Bertha was used by Bronte to express the frustration women have felt at the limitations imposed on them, as for a respectable woman in 19th century England, for example, they had two choices in life: marry or be a governess.
As we know from Charlotte's life, she lived until the end of her days tormented by society's limitations on women who wanted to be more than a wife dominated by her husband or a simple governess; we shouldn't forget that in 19th century England, creative writing was considered to be a masculine occupation.
As Bertha is kept locked in the attic, and nobody wants her to be free and she's described as a wild dangerous animal, Charlotte was forced in the end of her life to subordinate to society, repressing herself in order to be considered respectable; Bertha decides to die for a "greater good".