Be More Eyre

Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens

by C. Margery Kempe

My sweetie and I watched the 2011 Jane Eyre the other night; he’d not yet seen it, though I’d seen it in the theatre and maybe once or twice since. It’s not like I was going to be tired of it! The script by Moira Buffini reconfigures the story in a fascinating way, bringing out nuances even a seasoned fan may notice for the first time and emphasising the Gothic nature of the story.

This is the one with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. I know a lot of people find him hot, but his appeal eludes me. I liked him in it and thought he did well, but really, he’s no comparison to my fave Rochester, Toby Stephens (who is after all, McGonagall’s son!).

But the chief appeal of the story is of course Jane herself; I love how Ruth Wilson plays her (and of course love Wilson, especially in Luther, where I always refer to her as ‘Jane Eyre, Serial Killer’ which somehow makes her even more wonderful). She gives the heroine a more whimsical side (it’s too easy to make Jane seem grim). In our easy-going culture, we tend to be suspicious of people who hold themselves aloof from pleasure.

Jane isn’t so much someone who denies herself pleasure as one who knows how much it costs — and how much she has to lose. She has the possibility of happiness handed to her twice: once by a man she loves, who would cost her all her self-respect, then again by a man who would give her respect but not love (who cannot understand the passions of real love).

“I can live alone, if self-respect, and circumstances require me so to do. I need not sell my soul to buy bliss. I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld, or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give.”

Jane rejects both. She is not willing to marry unless she gets the same return of true passion she offers. But she’s not willing to lose herself for it either. Receiving an unexpected inheritance, her first thought is to share it with the two women closest to her in order to offer them the same independence she achieved with her work.

While she yearns to know the world and fly far from her little corner of it, Jane always keeps a sense of self-preservation. Not for her the wild abandonment to love (in contrast to the tempestuous Cathy Earnshaw of her sister’s Wuthering Heights); she knows it would come to nought if she paid too great a price to obtain it.

What heroine inspires you?

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  • Post authorMadeline Iva

    The Michael Fassbinder one so clearly brought out the cautionary theme: “Look Missy, the lord is just going to use you and deceive you!” It’s almost like Bronte wrote that cautionary tale and then wrote her way out again. So I found his version interesting–if for no other reason. It wasn’t very gothic-y though.

    Michael Fassbinder is rather remote usually, so my obsession for him has to do with the emotionally with-holding hero. (Check out my blog post next week for more on that!)

    Reply to Madeline Iva
    • Post authorC. Margery Kempe

      I thought the Wasikowska one was much more Gothic, focusing on the scares and brining the run from Thornfeld to the opening scene. Much more breathless, but at the sacrifice of haar tear development. They’re mostly sketched in rather than developed. But that’s the advantage of the Wilson one: much longer means more time o develop nuance.

      Reply to C. Margery Kempe
  • Post authorElizabeth Shore

    You can get a whole lotta naked Michael Fassbender in Shame, and I have to confess I had no shame in watching him. 😉 (the movie, on the other hand, was pitiful).

    How fun to think of inspirational heroines, especially from the classics. I must say that the ones who spring to mind areTess of the d’Urbervilles and Anna Karenina. They’re not truly “inspirational” in the classic sense, but the tragedies in both women’s lives make them sympathetic, compelling characters that just draw me right in.

    Reply to Elizabeth Shore
    • Post authorLizEverly

      I thought of Tess, too, one of my favorite characters. hence I named one of my daughters after her.

      Reply to LizEverly
      • Post authorC. Margery Kempe

        Oh, wow! Such a tragic character. I named the heroine of my serial after an imagined daughter of Jane, Helen. I’d think if she had a daughter she’d name her after her best friend in the horrible school. 🙂

        Reply to C. Margery Kempe
        • Post authorMadeline Iva

          I can totally see that. Or as Tess would say tods.

          Reply to Madeline Iva
  • Pingback: Mr. Unattainable: Icy Emotionally Withholding Heroes—& Why I love Them So | Lady Smut (Edit)

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