On Jane Eyre

This is a picture of me (yes, the duck),  sitting on my copy of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. It was given to me by my uncle during my first year in high school and it’s been in their family for years (look, the date of the book reads 1949 which is wicked)and since it was just sitting on his ancient book shelves gathering dust, he figured to give it some purpose ‘cause I liked to read he says.

Since reading it that day, I’ve read it thrice and it still remains one of my favorite classics. I am a fan of gothic literature and although Jane Eyre was primarily a love story (a plus also, since I was a lovestruck at the time and had my own sort of Mr. Rochester figure in my life), I loved its distinct atmospheric quality of being quite eerie and unsettling.This copy is quite ancient but it wasn’t spared from my occasional pencil marks and neon colored post-it tabs to mark my favorite parts of the book.

“I have for the first time found what I can truly love–I have found you. You are my sympathy–my better self–my good angel–I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my centre and spring of life, wrap my existence about you–and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.”
—     Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

A few days ago, I’ve just watched Cary Fukunaga’s recent film adaptation of the classic novel and I’ve watched it thrice since. I won’t deny that I loved it, more than what I expected to feel for it because when you realize it’s a film adaptation of the novel, you also realize that essentially speaking Jane Eyre’s story has been stripped down. And with Fukunaga’s adaptation it’s obviously been stripped down to it’s roots, regretfully.

I can’t help but notice how Jane’s early years are shown but only in brief flashbacks. The story of her formative years to become a self-possessed, moral woman has been compressed so the viewer probably isn’t given enough sense of how her character came to be. I’m just disappointed that they excluded the character of Miss Temple and her influence on Jane’s perspective and also the lack of the “unsettling” Gothic feeling the novel gave me—little exposure on the “woman” and the excluded my favorite (dramatic) part: the tearing of the veil. Those who read the novel would know what I mean by these and how they could’ve made a difference in the impact of the story.

With these aside, let me talk about the things I loved about the film because I can’t deny how much love I have for it. It was wonderfully photographed and beautifully acted, and I say this without any exaggeration. Fukunaga’s adaptation focused on the emotional and romantic arc in Jane’s life and intellectual interplay between her and Rochester. And I have to admit the love story plays out beautifully, much to my fan girl happiness (Yes, I am a shameless fan of the Eyre-Rochester electric romance in the novel ♥ ).

I was a little skeptical about Mia Wasikowska playing Jane but after watching the film thrice, it didn’t change what I thought about her performance: fantastic! She knew how to be “poor, obscure, plain and little”; Mia looked hopelessly fragile and vulnerable. Yet not “soulless and heartless”—there seemed to be steel in her, an inner solidness in her performance that was fabulous. Besides I love her character! Jane Eyre doesn’t take anyone’s shit (most especially Mr. Rochester, flirt that he is) and she knows how to hold her ground, in a polite and brilliant way (your master offers you the world,  you settle for your small room and grey dress as easy as saying KTHANKSBYE).

Michael Fassbender (my darling Holy Emperor of Sharks and Shark Predatory Smiles) where do I begin? First of all, him as the enigmatic and solitary Edward Fairfax Rochester was very, very, very enjoyable as if the role was made for him and this fatal combination is a blow to me. He’s effortlessly magnetic and his charisma reeks out of the screen that puts Lord Darcy in the shadows. Fassbender is electric as Rochester and he has a clear idea on how to present Rochester with a perfect balance of charm and despair, which contrasted Mia’s fragile facade and inner steel. He acted out passion like it was nobody’s business but his! And scene where Rochester begs for Jane to stay was utter perfection and my heart sank watching Wasikowska and Fassbender play out despair like it was nothing. And I nearly cried ♥ (Rochester: I could bend you with my finger and my thumb. A mere reed you feel in my hands.)

I didn’t expect that the two would have such chemistry and I nearly smashed and kicked the computer’s monitor because I can’t stand them NOT KISSING (Rochester: Is that how you would leave me? Jane, fire is a horrible death. You’ve saved my life. Don’t walk past me as if we were strangers *grips her tight* Jane Eyre: But what am I to do then? *stares into his eyes*) and every time they would have their conversations, which had a very exclusive private air to it… I thought that would die watching the tension build up (disappears into fan girl oblivion fuckyouawesomesafgswertymanFass). Oh Mr. Ronchester you shameless flirt and it’s made worse because Michael Fassbender plays you (dangerously seductive) and after this I will probably not know any other Rochester than Fassbender’s. With this…

But all in all I thought the movie was a particularly good watch, with the stellar performances of the strong leads and beautiful cinematography. On a random note, it was interesting to see Harry Llyod/Viserys play the role of Mason and watching him writhe in agony reminded me of his time as the self-styled Dragon Prince in Game of Thrones. I should like to see more screen time for Harry Lloyd because I see talent in there. Overall, it’s not a perfect adaptation of the novel but then I enjoyed it immensely and I recommend it.

Then you are mistaken, and you know nothing about me, and nothing about the sort of love of which I am capable. Every atom of your flesh is as dear to me as my own: in pain and sickness it would still be dear. Your mind is my treasure, and if it were broken, it would be my treasure still: if you raved, my arms should confine you, and not a strait waistcoat—your grasp, even in fury, would have a charm for me: if you flew at me as wildly as that woman did this morning, I should receive you in an embrace, at least as fond as it would be restrictive. I should not shrink from you with disgust as I did from her: in your quiet moments you should have no watcher and no nurse but me; and I could hang over you with untiring tenderness, though you gave me no smile in return; and never weary of gazing into your eyes, though they had no longer a ray of recognition for me.”
—     (Jane Eyre)

♥ Goodness I love this story.


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