Bertha Mason, though a minor character in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, played a pivotal role in the love story between Jane and Rochester. Bertha remains mysterious throughout the first half of the novel and, the times that she appears, the cryptic actions reveal her state of mind. She is the impediment to Jane and Rochester's impending marriage and her actions later lead the two to reconcile. Bertha was a mentally impaired woman. Her motives and the causes for her behavior are unclear, besides the obvious jealousy towards Jane and the betrayal she must have felt by Rochester. Without the nuisance of her character, Jane Eyre would have been a flawless love story, but in life everything is not always perfect and neither is Bertha Mason. .
Bertha's character only appears once Jane moves to Thornfield. She is never seen, only heard. One night, as Jane lay awake, she heard "a demoniac laugh"(168) and as she rose to investigate she found Rochester's bedroom on fire. Jane thinks it is Grace Poole, the woman that appears to be crazy, who is the culprit of such an insane act; but in reality it is the woman whom is under her secret care, Bertha Mason to blame. What motivates a person to do such a terrible act? Betrayal. Bertha Mason felt betrayed by Rochester. Rochester was her husband from an arranged marriage. Upon discovering her mental condition, he took her out of Jamaica where she was born and forced her to live in England at Thornfield under the care of Grace Poole so that no one would know of their marriage. She felt unloved and was angered that Rochester was able to just leave her at Thornfield and just move on with his life as if she had never existed. Bertha wasn't going to go quietly, she made sure she was heard. .
That Bertha was violent is evident when she attacked her brother Richard Mason who had come to visit her late one night. He recalled to Doctor Carter, "She bit me, worried me like a tigress, when Rochester got the knife from her"(239).