Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë, is one of my favourite British novels. It’s a coming-of-age tale of an orphan girl who, as often portrayed in novels of the same period, is raised in an unloving, hostile environment. But even if Jane’s aunt takes pleasure on disgracing her, even if she’s often mistreated by her cousins, her iron will and witty self seem to give her strength enough to pull through the tough years at her aunt’s and make something out of herself. Her passion for learning is the one thing she isn’t deprived of and is also the one tool she builds up her character with.
She really stands out at school, showing herself to be a very hard-working, responsible and eager pupil. The school years pave the way for a short-lived teaching career, which culminates in her getting a job as a governess at wealthy Edward Rochester’s home. The book tells us of strange events that occur in the house, of the beginning of a romantic relationship between Jane and Mr. Rochester and of the latter’s dark past, which takes its toll on their romance. It’s a story about gender roles, overcoming social barriers and, of course, love.
What led me to write this post was the wonderful 1983 BBC adaptation I watched a few weeks ago, namely a television serial, featuring Zelah Clarke as Jane Eyre and Timothy Dalton as Edward Rochester. Zelah’s angelical features and sad but hopeful eyes make a fine portrait of the naive Jane Eyre, while Timothy’s stern manner and elegant speech fool the viewer into believing Edward Rochester to be a polite, calm and tender gentleman - which he is not. Also his craziness and the savageness of Edward’s spirit are amazingly well represented by Timothy’s throughout the serial. Unforgettable is the scene in which Jane decides to leave him. He collapses, weeping and screeching, ‘You will give me your love! You will!’
By the way, the overture song is beautiful!
If you’re not familiar with the novel, I suggest you take the time to read the book or watch the serial. Alternative to the 1983 adaptation there are plenty of others, though, for instance the 2006 production, also by BBC, featuring Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens in the main roles. Here is a fan-made trailer of it:
There’s also a somewhat recent American-British film production, released in 2011, starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. It might be a good way to get to know the story in a short time, and it might inspire you to read the book afterwards. Here’s the official trailer:
Hope you enjoy this material and do not miss out on Jane Eyre. Brontë send you greetings!