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Mia Waskikowska and Michael Fassbender in Jane Eyre

 
 

 

 

     

 

JANE EYRE

 

Reader, I married him.

 

 

Virginia Woolf writing about Jane Eyre in the Times Literary Supplement in 1916: “The writer has us by the hand, forces us along her road, makes us see what she sees, never leaves us for a moment or allows us to forget her. ...we read Charlotte Brontë...for her poetry.  Probably that is so with all writers who have, as she has, an overpowering personality, so that, as we say in real life, they have only to open the door to make themselves felt.  There is in them some untamed ferocity perpetually at war with the accepted order of things which makes them desire to create instantly rather than to observe patiently.  This very ardour, rejecting half shades and other minor impediments, wings its way past the daily conduct of ordinary people and allies itself with their more inarticulate passions.  It makes them poets....”

 


Judi Dench plays Mrs, Fairfax, the housekeeper

 

And the strange poetry that is Jane Eyre is inextricably bound up in the fact that it is, at heart, a Cinderella story. “Last night, I thought unaccountably of fairy tales, and had half a mind to demand whether you had bewitched my horse....” Rochester calls Jane a witch, a sorceress, a mocking changeling - fairy-born and human-bred, a pale little elf, says her people are the men in green (fairies).  And like every good fairy tale there is the bookish, headstrong, and opinionated orphan; the cruel aunt and cousins; the bleak moors; the harsh boarding school; and then, the great house with its tower-tops and battlements (Thornfield Hall, and one mustn’t forget that Charlotte Brontë was born in Thornton).  The meeting of Rochester and Jane: a great dog gliding by in the gloaming that reminds her of the Gytrash, a tall steed, a rider – man and horse down on the slippery ice.  She is the one to help him up, and he is to say to her later, when she is his preserver, again. “I knew you would do me good in some way, at some time...I have heard of good genii:--there are grains of truth in the wildest fable."  And it wouldn’t be quite a fairy tale if there wasn’t an ogre (here the mad wife locked up in the attic), if there had been no wild flight away from Thornfield and a separation of the lovers.  Even as a child, to Jane: "...'Rasselas' looked dull to my trifling taste; I saw nothing about fairies, nothing about genii; no bright variety spread over the closely printed pages.” And then there is the allusion to “...a certain little French story-book which Madame Pierrot had that day shown me.” Pierrot close enough to Perrault, this is Cinderella made more dramatic by adding a few stones from Bluebeard’s castle, a rose from Beauty and the Beast.  It’s a fairy tale that ends with “Reader, I married him.”

 


Cary Fukunaga (left) on the set of Jane Eyre

 

Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre, inspired by childhood memories of his mother watching the 1944 film starring Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine, takes liberties with the novel at times--all the better perhaps to serve the film’s own poetic vision.  The sunlight is never quite yellow here--the wild trackless moors are washed in a Gothic-Romantic blue-grey light and interiors are revealed only by the luminous glow of candles at night.  Everything serves to propel one along, headlong and breathless, and the film is  a creature both of and separate from the novel.  An excuse perhaps, to curl up with the book again....   

 

See: Jane Eyre

 

Read: Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

 

Tags: film  literature  language  books   love    england   Romantic

 

 

 

"Tell me, now, fairy as you are, - can't you give me a charm, or a philter, or something of that sort, to make me a handsome man?"

 

"It would be past the power of magic, sir...."

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