Jane Eyre: The Movie

After RJ and I finished Jane Eyre, I decided to watch the movie that recently came onto DVD. As with most movies-based-on-novels, it wasn’t as good as Brontë’s classic. However, I believe that there are legitimate reasons for this. It is, in my opinion, impossible to condense a thirty-eight-chapter novel into two hours of cinematic experience without losing something. If they were to stay true to the book, the film would take far more than one hundred and twenty minutes.

What suffered the most was the dynamic between Jane and Edward. Scenes of the main couple interacted are the obvious things to cut, since there are so many of them. However, if I hadn’t read the novel, I’m not sure I would have been as fond of the two of them as a couple as I am. Granted, the makers of the film probably assume that most viewers will be familiar with the novel, since a) it is something that every high school student (except, apparently, me) is required to read; and b) why would you be interested in the movie if you were uninterested in the novel? So it makes sense to take for granted the relationship between the two main characters. The interaction that was portrayed was very strong. I am not a crier at movies, but when Jane pulled away from Edward after she learned of Bertha, my eyes were a bit watery. It was a very powerful scene.

They cut out the revelation that Jane and the Rivers were cousins, which was, I suppose, due to modern sensibilities about cousin marriage, since St. John proposes to Jane. That wasn’t really an issue at that time. While I do understand the reasoning, I thought it an important plot point that Jane finally finds family.

Adele wasn’t exactly as I pictured her (I pictured her as a younger, Frencher Georgiana Darcy of the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice), but she was still adorable. Bertha was as eerie as promised (though I’m not certain the vampire rumors were necessary).

At the end of the film, I was satisfied. The writers managed a much more successful conclusion than Brontë had (read RJ’s last post for more on that subject), and the story ended happily, not perfectly (perfect endings leave a bad taste in my mouth). I would suggest this film, even for lovers of the novel.

Jane Eyre Part III: Conclusion

Jane Eyre Part III: Conclusion

For those of you who are new, my good friend RJ and I have been reading Jane Eyre together. You can find RJ’s blog here, and my previous posts can be found in the “Reading with RJ” category of this blog. This is my concluding post on the novel, because we have finished it this week.

When I finished Jane Eyre, I was not sure what I should write about. My previous post concerned the novel as a whole, so I didn’t want to do that again. I could write about the last chapter, which struck me as more of an epilogue than a chapter, and, in any case, I did not care for it. It was an ending that did not fit the rest of the novel. I could mention the excitement I felt at the uncertainty of Jane’s fate. Unlike with most romances, I did not know whether Jane and Edward would be together in the end. I like that. I like having doubt about a happy ending. I could write about the film, which I watched this evening, but I would rather this post focus on the novel (though perhaps a later post will be about the movie). After all this deliberation, I decided to write on St. John (whose name, I learned, is pronounced “Sinjun.”).

St. John both fascinates and repulses me. When he first appeared, I liked him very much. He is kind to Jane when she needs kindness, and is very generous toward her, despite the fact that she is a stranger. He is introverted and a bit harsh, but gives every indication of being a good man–which I still believe that he is. St. John, however, is not a nice man, though a good one he is. His expectations of others are too high, and while he is generous with his wealth, he is stingy with his forgiveness.

There are many things about St. John’s part in Jane’s tale that I was expecting: as soon as St. John asked Jane to learn Hindostanee, the language of the people to whom he planned to bring the gospel of Christ, I knew that he would propose to her. Since Jane had earlier proclaimed to herself that he would make an awful husband, I knew that she would reject him. I did not, however, anticipate the nature of St. John’s proposal.

That proposal goes down in (literary) history as the worst proposal of all time, beating out even Fitzwilliam Darcy’s to Elizabeth Bennet (which, if you have forgotten, was along the lines of, “I have struggled to smother my feelings for you because you are not worthy of them, but I cannot stop loving you; will you marry me?”). It takes an idiot to come up with a worse proposal than that, but St. John E. Rivers managed quite well. It was to the effect of: “I don’t love you, but you would make a great missionary’s wife, so will you marry me, so that I can take you to India? Now, remember, I don’t have feelings for you, but God wants us to get married.” What self-respecting woman would acquiesce to that? None. Only a desperate woman, one so desiring to please others that she would reject herself, would agree to such a marriage. There are many good reasons for marriage, not all of them eros, but allowing yourself to be bullied and following a cousin to India do not count as good reasons, at least not to me. So I am glad that Jane turned him down, and not only for her own sake. St. John is the type of man who is happier when he has responsibilities towards no one.

I think that I can learn many things from St. John, despite the fact that I lost my respect for him after that monstrous proposal. I will settle for describing only one. I, like St. John, tend to hold my personal standards and expectations high, and I am disappointed when others do not try to hold themselves to the same standards (though I like to think that I am not quite so difficult as he is). Watching St. John has shown me what an unattractive trait that is.

St. John is not a nice man. He is not even a reasonable one. Despite these things, however, St. John is
a good man. He worked hard to do what he thought was right, even when it meant sacrificing his happiness. I respect that.

[On an unrelated note, this is my first attempt to write in HTML. I just thought that I would share that.]

Jane Eyre: The First Fourteen Chapters

My friend RJ and I have decided that this year, we will encourage each other to stay diligent in our studies by reading together. Our first book is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. Yesterday was our deadline for the first fourteen chapters. At first, I was cautious: though I love classic literature, I am not fond of Wuthering Heights, and I was unsure if my dislike would apply to all Brontë novels. However, once past the first ten chapters or so, I was able to really get into the story.

The first few chapters, which focus on Jane Eyre’s childhood, were not enjoyable for me. I like novels that start right before the action, giving the reader just enough background information to know what is happening. I was also annoyed with child Jane, who, while mistreated, was whiny and self-pitying. The poor, mistreated child is a common protagonist, and I’m a bit sick of it (though, as RJ pointed out, Brontë was probably one of the first to use this type of character. Now, however, it has become the staple of YA literature). For me, the novel doesn’t really begin until Jane reaches Thornfield Hall.

As soon as Eyre arrives at Thornfield, the novel gets interesting. There is strange laughter in the attic, an adorable French child (who, while being entertaining, also helps me work on my French), and the mysterious Mr. Rochester. Things are happening, and Jane is learning and changing.

Mr. Rochester, thus far, is a character who I like very much. He is the type of person I was friends with in high school. While being rude and having rather extreme shifts in mood, he is hilarious and imaginative.

As to the piece as a whole, there are both things I like and things that I despise. I love that Jane is unattractive, as is Rochester. Attractive heroes are the norm, and so less than beautiful protagonists tend to make me uncomfortable for the first few moments (for various reasons, including, but not limited to, suspicion of what the author is going to do to balance the character), but once I am used to the character, I like it. I dislike, however, Jane’s constant asides to the audience. “Don’t talk to the audience!” I mentally scream. “The fourth wall is there, I promise!”

Overall, I am thus far intrigued by the novel, and I am looking forward to the rest. I have a few theories on what will happen/be revealed, and I can’t wait to see if I am right.

You can read RJ’s blog, including her Jane Eyre post, here.