‘Bertha’ by Danielle Davey

He conceals his true spirit as he now hides me. A respectable facade has been painted, yet inside, hidden deep within, his passions are prone to excitability as readily as mine.

God knows you’re lying, Rochester. I know…and He knows.

Uprooted from my Jamaican home, Edward’s father and my own contrived our marriage…for money. With regret, I left behind a Love (My Jonah!) for whom I pined for many months, still hoping Edward would treat me well and ours would be a happy marriage. Hope failed me.

A model of respectability in polite society, Edward’s behaviour was debaucherous in private quarters. Not yet content forcing his body onto mine…contorting me, bruising me… he attempted to force his mind onto mine. “You are a savage who must be tamed”. He claimed to be of ‘higher knowledge’ than I and ridiculed me for it. I agreed, “It is true, your intellect makes you haughtier indeed”. Mr Rochester slapped me across the cheek.

He thinks he plays me for a fool…yet it is HE who plays the fool. A fanatic for parlour tricks, more than once, to entertain guests, he assumed various personae. Cruelly, his favourite guise, ‘The Sorceress’, was represented as a fortune-telling witch. In private he asked ‘”Do you not recognise your Mother, dear Bertha? the Creole Voudou Queen?” I despise him and his grotesque mimicry.

How did I come to be confined to this room? Distrust. Distrust of his own true Nature perhaps? Since learning of my past lover, intercepting letters addressed to me from Jonah, Rochester became suspicious. It has been a long time I have been held against my will, but now the door is locked, the window barred.

Tap, Tap, Tap. Scratcha, Scratch, Scratcha. I hear them often now. The old oak beams of this room provide a meal for the brown beetles therein. The Deathwatch Beetle. They have seen one death here already…they will yet witness my own demise. My poor babe, born and died here in this space. When he learned I was with child, Rochester confined me to this prison. With suspicion he forewarned, “Let us see how dark the bastard’s skin is then!”. The baby was his, however, perhaps mercifully, it died shortly after birth. My son is cold in the earth now, without his Mother’s tears to water his grave. Suspecting I too would die during childbirth, Edward had then admitted a stranger, “a professionally discreet gentleman” who in his words, had come to “immortalise [my] uncommon beauty”. Lying supine, the gentleman, a ‘Mr Tussaud’, placed cool hands on my face. A wax mask of my visage was fashioned that night. Edward now taunts me with this macabre device. He has painted the mask, wearing it with a long dark wig of wind-swept hair. At turns he (or Mrs Poole, who is more counterpart to him than I have ever been) ghoulishly appears at the door laughing. “How do you fancy your likeness? Fit for the Chamber of Horrors indeed!”.

Often I dream now of setting fire to Thornfield…burning this prison…melting Rochester’s wretched mask.

Reader. I despise him.



 Note.  The events of Jane Eyre were set in 1847. In 1846, Punch Magazine had coined the term ‘Chamber of Horrors’ to describe the exhibition of Madame Tussaud’s most gruesome waxworks. Madame Tussaud’s sons Francis was a skilled wax modeller and greatly involved in the Waxwork Museum during this time.

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