Values Dissonance. Possibly the most blindingly obvious instance in 19th century English literature. Bertha Mason is shown as being evil beyond redemption because she is insane. Worse, the very first really humane asylums for the mentally ill were being opened at the time and place the book is set (Yorkshire in the 1810-1820 period). Rochester could have afforded to send Bertha to one out of his pocket change with nobody knowing who she was. Yet he instead kept her hidden in his decrepit attic in rags with only a drunken slattern as company, quite possibly a fate worse than death. Jane's acceptance of this explanation shows that she (and her author) were out of touch with the times: during the Enlightenment people started to reject the idea that people who were insane were morally degenerate and evil and that it was an illness that should be treated, however bizarre the treatments occasionally became.
- Rochester's attempt to be humane itself causing Values Dissonance. Rochester thinks the location of his forestland house, Ferndean Manor, where he'll eventually live blissfully with Jane anyway, could potentially be fatally unhealthy for Bertha, but locking her up in a sunless attic cell is perfectly fine. Nowadays, the roles of solitary confinement and wilderness therapy are reversed. Arguably a case of Science Marches On, but independent of scientific thought, it shows how we've changed our values to regard "being close to nature" as a glowingly wonderful catalyst of healing, instead of a terrifying, sickness-inducing hazard to women.
- "Humane" may be a relative word here—a lot of nineteenth and even twentieth century institutions still turned out to be pretty grim places. Hence, even if better asylums were starting to open, it's not inconceivable that some people would still think it preferable to keep an insane relative at home. Even today the decision of whether or not to put a family member in an institution can be a very difficult one.
- It's actually Moral Dissonance, internal to the novel, if you read some of the Brontė sisters' social essays. You have to keep in mind that Rochester is explicitly pretty much evil for most of the novel.
- Actually, Jane does call Rochester out on his behavior:
"Sir," I interrupted him, "you are inexorable for that unfortunate lady: you speak of her with hate — with vindictive antipathy. It is cruel — she cannot help being mad."
- Rochester insists that he doesn't hate Bertha because she's mad, she was just (apparently, if you believe him) that wicked.
- Some of that was Brontė trying to make it clear that Bertha wasn't to be reviled because she was crazy. In later years Brontė spoke in several letters about wanting readers to feel pity, not revulsion, but never quite being able to create that in the writing.
- When Jane suggest to St. John Rivers that he need not be a missionary to the East: "Relinquish! What! ... [My hopes] of carrying knowledge into the realms of ignorance — of substituting peace for war — freedom for bondage — religion for superstition — the hope of heaven for the fear of hell?"
- Rochester dressing up as a fortune teller involves him darkening his face with makeup. This detail is removed in most adaptations and is a likely reason why the scene is often removed entirely.