Perhaps many of you are quite sick of my Jane Eyre posts, and I promise my goal is not to make Jane Eyre the biggest tag in my cloud – and yet, here is another.
As I forgot to bring my next audiobook to work with me today, I reverted back to Jane Eyre, of course, and upon listening the ump-teenth time I’ve stumbled upon a few things that may have perhaps been the ‘missing ingredient(s)’ in both video adaptations I’ve seen thus far…….
Neither of them added the alluded conversations between Jane and Rochester, which was the building of their affections for each other, and the foundation of their love (perhaps not foundation…her saving his life and their little secrets were more likely that). The 1996 version did a bit of it, by chopping up the first two drawing room meetings and having them take place over several meetings in several places. I’d love to see the spontaneous meetings – when they met accidentally in the halls…Rochester’s moody looks and coy smiles and bows…all the things that Jane had studied to get to know him so well.
His deportment had now for some weeks been more uniform towards me than at the first. I never seemed in his way; he did not take fits of chilling hauteur: when he met me unexpectedly, the encounter seemed welcome; he had always a word and sometimes a smile for me: when summoned by formal invitation to his presence, I was honored by a cordiality of reception that made me feel I really possessed the power to amuse him, and that these evening conferences were sought as much for his pleasure as for my benefit.
The ease of his manner freed me from painful restraint; the friendly frankness, as correct as cordial, with which he treated me, drew me to him. I felt at times as if he were my relation, rather than my master: yet he was imperious sometimes still; but I did not mind that; I saw it was his way. So happy, so gratified did I become with this new interest added to life, that I ceased to pine after kindred: my thin crescent-destiny seemed to enlarge; the banks of existence were filled up; my bodily health improved; I gathered flesh and strength.
One of my favorite passages in the entire book is where Jane studies the interaction between Rochester and Blanche Ingram, and sees Blanche fall short of winning his love::
I saw he was going to marry her, for family, perhaps political reasons; because her rank and connections suited him; I felt he had not given her his love, and that her qualifications were ill adapted to win from him that treasure. This was the point-this was where the nerve was touched and teased-this was where the fever was sustained and fed: she could not charm him.
If she had managed the victory at once, and he had yielded and sincerely laid his heart at her feet, I should have covered my face, turned to the wall, and (figuratively) have died to them. … But as matters really stood, to watch Miss Ingram’s efforts at fascinating Mr. Rochester; to witness their repeated failure, herself unconscious that they did fail; vainly fancying that each shaft launched, hit the mark, and infatuatedly pluming herself on success, when her pride and self-complacency repelled further and further what she wished to allure – to witness this, was to be at once under ceaseless excitation and ruthless restraint.
Because, when she failed, I saw how she might have succeeded. Arrows that continually glanced off from Mr. Rochester’s breast and fell harmless at his feet, might, I knew, if shot by a surer hand, have quivered keen in his proud heart- have called love into his stern eye, and softness into his sardonic face: or, better still, without weapons a silent conquest might have been won.
Why did they not include Jane chastising herself for falling in love with him just as he ‘abandoned’ her for the festive gentry party where lovely single ladies presided. It is quite an important factor, I believe. I think she drew the comparative portraits in the 1983 version, but the meaning wasn’t clear and definitely wasn’t as powerful as it could have been.
‘You,’ I said, ‘a favorite with Mr. Rochester? You gifted with the power of pleaseing him? You of importance to him in any way? Go! your folly sickens me. And you have derived pleasure from occasional tokens of preference – equivocal tokens, shown by a gentleman of family, and a man of the wolr, to a dependent and a novice. How dared you? Poor stupid dupe! – Could not even self-interest make you wise? You repeated to yourself this morning the brief scene of last night? – Cover your face and be ashamed!
Also, neither of the endings were quite as satisfying for me in the films as in the novel. Perhaps a video montage would have been more successful (arguably in many different sections of this tale)- seeing their long-awaited marriage, Jane reading to her blind husband, leading him on walks, their close-ness and manner…the slight return if his vision…her growing belly and the eventual birth of their son- or at least the first time Rochester holds him. Adele returning from school or visiting… The book covers over 10 years in just a few sentences, and those lines are the real conclusion to the story-what makes it so complete and so comforting.
These types of thoughts have been narrative in my brain since I’ve been introduced to the story. I’ve been analyzing and re-analyzing characters or words or scenes…It’s incredible the scope of this novel in some ways. How a young girl from [rural?] 19th century England wrote into her novel a lunatic wife from the West Indies with a brother who will love her and care about her well-being forever- which is one of the most touching things to me in this novel, actually. A rash young man who married young and regretted it forever. A young, fiercely independent woman who is ignorant of much of the world, yet determined to make her own way and create good in the world. A child who comes from a questionable mother, to be taken into care by a harsh, impatient man who resents her mother and finds a friend in her governess. I have a feeling, folks, that this will not be the last post concerning this book.