Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Jane Eyre

Reader, I must confess, I have just finished reading Charlotte Brontë's classic for the first time. I can't believe that all this time it has been sitting on many of the bookshelves in many of the rooms that I have often occupied. I don't know why it has taken me so many years to commit to it, but all I can say is that I didn't want it to end. Early on I started underlining sentences that moved me. By the end of the book I was practically underlining chapters. "My fast falling tears blistered" many a page and there are now scribbles in nearly every margin. It quickly became one of the greatest books I have ever read and has made quite the impact on me.

This year Focus Features released a beautiful film directed by Cary Fukunaga--starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. This wasn't the first adaptation that I have seen, so I knew the premise--but after reading the book, I enthusiastically support this version. It may not be the most literal, but it is stunning to say the least. And I feel that the characters were well represented--if not the raw embodiment of two fictitious characters. My hope is that it will be acknowledged during the award season. The score by Dario Marianelli (Pride & Prejudice, Atonement) was entirely exquisite as well.  The learn more about the other adaptations visit The Enthusiast's Guide to Jane Eyre Adaptations.

This is precisely how I feel right now. What road do you take? I must add that I deeply appreciated the absence of dialogue for the first 6 minutes. It set the tone in a remarkable way.

I believe this is also the house where Gosford Park was filmed.

"Adele would like to show us her accomplishments."

The painting on the wall reminds me of Gustav Richter's sister (Andy Richter?). Can anyone else see the resemblance?

There's so much more that you can learn from listening to a commentary. On the contrary, there are ways that the film can be destroyed. (I will not be able to view the trees in the same way in this movie knowing that the leaves were added digitally for some scenes and left out entirely for others when they are all within the same season.) The commentary for the 2011 version was given by the director. In this scene he drew attention to the imagery of the caged bird by filming the window panes. Brilliant.

This reminds me of Becoming Jane when Tom Lefroy wishes Miss Austen, "Goodnight". What do you think?

Some time in the past, I saw an illustration of Mr. Rochester and he was represented in this manner. I'll repost it if I ever find it. 

In this frame, my favourite line in the screenplay is uttered. I fear I would not be able to recall it word for word as Moira Buffini wrote it, so I will not try, but to summerize it: Mr. Rochester is describing the cord of communication between them.

Here is the passage from the words of Brontë:
"Because," he said, "I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you-especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame.  And if that boisterous channel, and two hundred miles or so of land come broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communication will be snapt; and then I've a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly.  As for you, --you'd forget me."

I really don't draw my friends and family enough. This winter I aim to make portraits for them.

Of course, I now wish to visit Haddon Hall- the setting of Thornfield. Although the virtual tour would be so much cheaper, it would be quite the experience to actually walk the grounds. Someday...when I go to England...

I hope I haven't inundated you with images. I know there are so many. I just couldn't bring myself to the point of excluding any of the ones posted.

All images from Jane Eyre belong to Focus Features.


  1. Isn't the book brilliant? Charlotte has such a way... As far as the film, I watched it exactly 2 minutes after I finished the book. I liked it as well, but not as much as the book. It did possess beautiful cinematography though. In the book, did the estate of Mr. Rochester remind you of the Baskerville estate in "Hound of the Baskervilles"? Just wondering, because I definitely got that vibe.

  2. I'm excited to see this version and hadn't known of it before reading your post. I really like this book!! I've given it frequently as a gift. Have you read any other of the Bronte sisters works? I always mean to and then never get around to it.

  3. Trussell- Yes! The book is brilliant...I liked it so much more than Wuthering Heights. I just struggled through that one. Now that you mention it, Thornfield was extremely like Baskerville. I wonder if Doyle was inspired by it. Ugh! That's another book I love. You need to see Sherlock Holmes with RDJ

    Lisa- You'll have to let me know what you think of this version. I'd love to hear your thoughts. That's a great gift to give. I like giving books too. I read Wuthering Heights and found it really difficult to get into. It's a narration within a narration that happens to be written in a Scottish brogue. I would like to read either Agnes Grey or The Tenent of Wildfell Hall someday (both by Anne...I think I'm done with Emily for a while ;), but wouldn't be opposed to one of Charlotte's lesser known works. What are you reading these days?

  4. Jana! You write with such passion-this post makes me want to go straight home and watch the movie or open the book again! You draw such great comparisons and observations that so many miss. Great post!
    I agree that this movie potrayed the characters in such a raw form. They seems so much more vulnerable then how we usually see them.
    We should read a Bronte book together. Any suggestions?

  5. Thanks so much Makayla! I'm glad we got to see this one together. Tell me what book that you might be most interested in reading. Charlotte has a few more I believe. I can't remember their titles as of right now though.

  6. Are you also a Jane Austen fan? I find the genre similar, though I do prefer Bronte's prose. Still, if you are looking for a light hearted "easy" read that is fun AND you are a Pride and Predjudice fan (I AM!)- try "Me and Mr. Darcy" by Potter. It's not on the writing level of Austen or Bronte, mind you but the story had me pulled in imagining myself easily as the subject;) A fun "brainless" (in a good way" read, me thinks.

  7. Yes, I most definitely am an Austen fan. I just finished reading one of her biographies called "Becoming Jane Austen". I'm kicking myself because I owned "Me and Mr. Darcy" and sold it at a rummage sale this summer. I hadn't cracked it since I bought it. I'll have to track it down again. Thanks for the recommendation, Kimmy!


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