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Archive for the ‘Charlotte Brontë’ Category

The new film version of Jane Eyre opened here today and, rather to my surprise considering my distaste for the novel, I found myself attending the four o’clock matinee.  But I do love costume dramas and the reviews had been good so off I went with my mother, who, not having read Jane Eyre since high school, really had no idea what she was about to see.  My expectations were certainly exceeded, not necessarily by the film as a whole but by its one central performance.      

Mia Wasikowska is mesmerizing as Jane.  She took a character I have never liked, at the center of a story I continue to view more as an unrestrained juvenile fantasy than a great romance, and for the first time made me like Jane and feel for her.  I shall never understand her, but I certainly came away feeling sympathy and respect for her, which is the first time that has happened in the ten years since we were first introduced in my Grade Nine English class.  Indeed, Wasikowska’s performance is so strong that I found myself looking at her even when other actors were speaking.  Readers, I barely even looked at Judi Dench during their shared scenes, so intent was I on observing this perfect Jane.  Judi Dench.  Ignored.  By me.  Shocking.  Did the world really need another adaptation of Jane Eyre?  No.  But for Wasikowska’s performance alone it has been proved a worthwhile undertaking.

Mr Rochester was his usual disturbing combination of desperate and cruel and the moors  beautiful and stark, as is their wont.  Neither can elicit much of a reaction from me.  The excesses of Charlotte Brontë in forming both her characters and her plot have had me rolling my eyes since I was fifteen.  I have no stomach for such theatrics, for passions better suited to opera houses, for all-consuming, never-ending dramatics.  My problem understanding the Brontës in general is that they seem to have felt things in a way and on a scale entirely foreign to me.  They speak of undying love and emotions that drive their characters to obsession and misery.  I am more Austen-esque in my world view.  An attractive mate is not one who lashes cruelly out at others with the intention of wounding, interrupted by intermittent periods of brooding and manipulation, but one with a good income, a comfortable home, and an affectionate, steady nature.  Bloodless perhaps, by the romantic standards of Charlotte and her sisters, but nevertheless that is my preference.

Carolyn and I have had this discussion before but I remain unconvinced: what is there to love about Jane Eyre?  Wherein lies its appeal?

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