Unlike how male authors use madwomen, these women are not used by female authors to simply depict an antagonist to the heroine. They are in a way the authors double, a depiction of her anxiety and rage through a character. Bertha is seen as a sympathetic figure. Feminist critiques saw the real obstacle in the union of Jane and Rochester the imbalance of power, which Jane saw as threatening her identity. ‘Bertha is a symbol or symptom of the repressed violence that haunts relations between men and women rather than herself an agent of terror’1.
Many critiques later saw Bertha in a positive light and saw her condition to be the result of the abuse she had suffered. Many saw Bertha in the need of a rescue rather than being a threat to Jane. The dream Jane has right at the eve of her marriage post the incident where Bertha burns her veil is that of a ruined Thornfield and a little baby in her hand. The child may depict Jane herself who is threatened by the end to her marriage. ‘The fact that Jane dreams of Thornfield in ruins is both prophetic and may, in some sense, be an expression of her subconscious wish, a wish that Bertha, her repressed double, enacts’2.
There is a recurring theme throughout the novel, the fear that Jane holds within her of being objectified. Jane is scared of being objectified whenever Mr. Rochester tried to dress her in jewels and silks, which does not go with her character but rather his idea of the women who is soon to be Mrs. Edward Fairfax Rochester.
It was not shocking to know that women in the nineteenth century found the idea of marriage and childbirth threatening as there were many that had died during childbirth. They also had to face loss of identity that was due to the change of name and the loss of property post marriage.
‘Childbirth enters the figurative structure of the novel as a way of describing the danger that the self will become something other than itself’3.