Title: Jane Eyre
Author: Charlotte Bronte
Publication: Smith, Elder & Co 1847
Rating: 4 stars
I read Jane Eyre forever ago, probably before I could really grasp all of Charlotte Bronte’s artful wit. However, the very convenient death of Mr. Rochester’s crazy wife in the end, which opens the door for Jane and Mr. Rochester to get married, has always stuck with me.
The root of the wife’s madness is never really explained in Jane Eyre, which is something Jean Rhys explores in her novel Wide Sargasso Sea. I went on a Jean Rhys binge last year and read every one of her novels but that one. By the time I got to it, I was just worn out and severely depressed by the material she tends to write about that I couldn’t face another novel.
However, I did watch the movie recently on HBO (it was pretty terrible, but interesting nonetheless). The protagonist is Mrs. Rochester and it begins with her meeting Mr. Rochester in Jamaica–he marries her for her money. Anyway, some of the natives tell Mr. Rochester stories about her and her family, telling him that her father was mad and that it runs in her family. They also tell him that he is not the first man she’s been with. All of these things cause Mr. Rochester great distress and he treats his wife very poorly. He cheats on her and she freaks out. The End.
On a lighter note (!), the Jane Eyre movie was wonderfully done and the actress, Mia Wasikowska (who was also the lead in Alice in Wonderland), was a fantastic match for the soft-spoken, sharp, but reserved Jane. Even if you feel sorry for the crazy wife, all you can do is root for Jane because she is just so nice and so in love with Mr. Rochester.
My roommate and I saw it at the Coolidge Corner Theater, which we had never been to. It’s so much bigger than I thought it was going to be, and they serve wine. It’s really nice to live with someone who is a nerd about literature and film adaptations of great books!