Posted by Stolzi on October 24, 1997 at 13:01:23:
In response to Joyce Carol Oates' interpretation, written by Maggie on October 13, 1997 at 12:11:51
] Oates made a comment about Bertha saying that she had syphyllis (and her maddness was caused by this disease.) I don't see how she was able to make this leap. I thought that Berta's maddness was an inherited disease. Futher, she made an ominous comment that JE and Rochester will also suffer Bertha's fate. Does anyone have any ideas on how Oates came up with this interpretation?
I saw the same preface. I thought she was just trying to be "smart." Yes, CB states that Bertha's madness is inherited. Then again, syphilis -can- be inherited. One would need to look up medical texts to see the results, though. It's my impression that children born with it tended to be deformed and weak, not growing up big and splendid-looking like Bertha. Maybe not even surviving childhood.
Richard Mason is Bertha's brother, and he is cowardly and physically not very appealing (unlike her), but not, at least currently, mad.
Rules of infection are capricious, as we know in our day with other STDs. If Rochester abandoned Bertha's bed early on in disgust, as I assume he did, he would stand a good chance of avoiding syphilis even if she had it (which I doubt).
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