Mr. Rochester and Jane's nuptials are very rudely interrupted by Mr. Mason and his lawyer when they proclaim that Mr. Rochester has a living wife. I KNEW that there was someone else on the third floor! The (sometimes) well-hidden lunatic and wannabe murderess is Bertha Mason, Mr. Mason's sister, and Mr. Rochester's wife.
Mr. Rochester explains to Jane that his father and brother duped him into marrying a stranger. They made it very clear that they would not be sharing the family wealth with him but they had every intention of using him to bring additional wealth to the family. Their plan arrived in the form of Bertha Mason. Her father promised a hefty dowry and without any consideration for the happiness of Mr. Rochester, the marriage was arranged. It was not until after the marriage that Mr. Rochester learned of his wife's temperament.
After putting up with her erratic and dangerous behavior for many years he resolved that he deserved a second chance at life. His father and brother had died so he could return to Europe and reclaim his family's fortune. He hired Grace Poole to care for Bertha and he set out on a mission to find his true partner in life. He traveled across continental Europe for many years picking up a mistress here and there, but no one fit his ideal until he met Jane.
Jane is understandably upset, though she is composed and self-restrained as always. What I do not understand is that she has resolved to leave Mr. Rochester and never to see him again. Mr. Rochester suggests that they could move somewhere where no one knows them and live as man and wife. In his mind, there is no question that they should be together. I do not understand Jane's rigidity especially when she admits that she loves him more than ever before.
I never thought I would say this but I am frustrated and disappointed with Jane. Why must she deprive herself and Mr. Rochester happiness just for the sake of honor and self-respect? I understand that she does not want to be Mr. Rochester's mistress but it seems to me there must be a compromise. I cannot blame Mr. Rochester. He was the victim of his family's greed. Jane, too, has been a victim of another kind - an orphan and a loner all her life. They seem fated to have found each other and to be together.
While I am saddened that Jane leaves, I admire her inner strength. If I had been in her situation I would have said, to hell with the nutcase upstairs, let us run off to the South of France!
Still, I do not think it would have been "wrong" of Jane to claim happiness for herself at the expense of Bertha Mason. I sense that Jane sympathizes equally with Mr. Rochester as she does with Bertha Mason. But I think she is silly to do so. Bertha Mason is not Bertha Mason anymore. She is a monster and while she is not to blame, it is a fact that she is not fit to be a wife, much less, a functioning human being.
I just hope that somehow, Jane finds her way back to Mr. Rochester. I think there is only misery to be had at their separation.