Topics » Health   Feb. 22, 2012

Are Oscars Nominees' Health Plots Accurate or Malpractice?

'Jane Eyre'

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Photo: Focus Features

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'Jane Eyre'

Dr. Markel says: "This latest adaptation of 'Jane Eyre' presents a historically accurate portrayal of mental illness. Edward Rochester, the love of Jane's life, is secretly married to Bertha. Jane and Rochester are about to marry when Bertha's brother orders a halt to the ceremony. Rochester then escorts a shocked Jane into a locked attic where the mad Bertha is kept.

"He explains that he married Bertha 15 years ago, at his father's behest. He then tells Jane, 'Her temper ripened, her vices sprang up, violent and unchaste. Only cruelty would check her and I would not use cruelty. I was chained to her for life. Have you ever set foot in a madhouse, Jane? The inmates are caged and baited like beasts. I spared her that at least.'

"These scenes contain Victorian notions of insanity. The condition was then thought to be marked by promiscuity, violence, and an obsession with unchaste thoughts. Locking Bertha away in a shroud of secrecy is how that era handled severe mental illness."

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