“the Desire for Liberty Is Often Mistaken for Insanity”. in the Light of This Statement, Explore How Brontë Presents Insanity in Jane Eyre. Throughout Your Answer, Consider How Your Reading of Rhys’s ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’

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“The desire for liberty is often mistaken for insanity”. In the light of this statement, explore how Brontë presents insanity in Jane Eyre. Throughout your answer, consider how your reading of Rhys’s ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ and understanding of context has enhanced your reading of the key text. Society in the Victorian era was extremely controlling and critical. If one refused to conform to the norms of society, they were seen as a threat and typically labeled ‘mad’. They would be locked up in cages and treated like animals, losing their identity, voice and freedom. Brontë largely explores this theme in Jane Eyre and Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea also supports this. This essay will focus on the concept of a desire for freedom being mistaken as madness in Jane Eyre and in Victorian society. For women and children to speak and defend themselves in Victorian society was not natural. They would be looked down upon and instantly labeled ‘mad’. As readers, we witness this in Jane Eyre when Jane’s character is ‘thrust upon’ a stool and compared to a ‘mad cat’ after speaking out and defending herself. This suggests that it was definitely shocking and strange for females to be assertive and have their voices heard. Despite this, Brontë creates Jane as a rebellious and passionate character who refuses to be labeled ‘mad’ stands up for herself. Contrastingly, Brontë chose Bertha’s character to accept her label as ‘mad’, and we can gain a deeper understanding of this in Wide Sargasso Sea where Rhys decided that Antoinette became Bertha when Rochester brought her to England after labeling her insane. Gilbert and Gubar stated that Bertha was a ‘madwoman in the attic, because, she was, well, a madwoman in the attic’, and this can show that she was a ‘madwoman’ only because of her label which she could not reject. This suggests that once a person was given a label, their label
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