A couple days ago I took some students in my class to see the latest cinematic attempt to bring Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel Jane Eyre to the public.
At the opening scene of Cary Fukunaga’s film my heart sank down into my heels and then, from there, I only stomped the ground with a red face throughout the rest of the film, trying to crush and smother the disappointment and anger that swelled through my body.
What I love about Bronte’s novel is her ability to articulate the position of a woman who is the kind of caged bird that Maya Angelou, more than one hundred years later, uses to express her abusive past. Jane Eyre is my hero. The world has tried to smash her to pieces and yet she perseveres in the staunchest ways possible. At moments she may put on the garb of moderation or even indifference but never for long. No garb can hold her spirit.
Fukunaga’s film begins with Eyre running through the English countryside away from Thornfield. She is crying and even curls up into the fetal position. I almost walked out of the theatre. JANE EYRE….CRYING!!!??? Never. Not Jane Eyre. Not even Rochester can subdue her pride, her passion, her spirit. (Well, maybe St. John can, but that is neither here nor there right now.)
Eyre appears to be from another world for many reasons. She is from another world. No character in Victorian fiction can match her uncanniness. No heroine can parallel her fierce passion. My god. The pages can hardly hold it.
I have never seen a film that does Eyre’s passion justice. It actually brings tears to my eyes. When one student said that Jane Eyre was just like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice I almost threw up.
Coming home from the film, I felt like the caged animal. When will directors of Bronte’s masterpiece read the novel?