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Charlotte BrontëLegacies and Afterlives$
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Amber K. Regis and Deborah Wynne

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781784992460

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781784992460.001.0001

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‘The insane Creole’: the afterlife of Bertha Mason

‘The insane Creole’: the afterlife of Bertha Mason

(p.221) 10 ‘The insane Creole’: the afterlife of Bertha Mason
Charlotte Brontë

Jessica Cox

Manchester University Press

This chapter explores the character of Bertha Mason as a significant obstacle to writers and artists seeking to adapt Jane Eyre: to treat her in the same manner as Charlotte Brontë is to replicate her degradation on the grounds of sex and gender, race and ethnicity, and dis/ability. Focused upon portrayals of her appearance, madness and death, this chapter charts the evolution and variation of Bertha’s character from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century, tracing the impact of feminist and postcolonial theorising upon creative engagements with Brontë’s novel. Encompassing a wide variety of adaptations across different media, including Young Adult and neo-Victorian fictions, film, television, theatre and the visual arts, it argues that recreations of Bertha point to an ongoing desire to recover this character from the margins of Brontë’s novel.

Keywords:   Adaptation, Appropriation, Death, Film, Jane Eyre, Madness, Neo-Victorianism, Television, Theatre, Young Adult fiction

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