Charlotte Bronte created the beloved, young heroine in 1847, simply but affectionately calling her Jane Eyre.
ABUSE or Training?
Poor, mistreated, forgotten, unloved, Jane Eyre. Battered by her only family as a child, then more so as a girl at the Lowood School, her only friend dies by her side, leaving Jane alone again. In truth, I can’t seem to read past the scenes in which Helen dies. I’ve tried. I am broken by her death, by the death of an only friend. Once loved, but again forgotten, Jane Eyre grows unbecomingly, leaving the school as a young woman to become a governess in the home of a Mr. Rochester. Jane seems to move from abuse to abuse, from ignorance to neglect, then back to abuse. She longs for independence and love, but finds none.
Story. Plot. Characters. CHECK. Dark. Brooding. Desperate. CHECK.
ABANDON or Consent?
Only one takes notice. Rochester sees through her, it seems. She shutters at his gaze. But I’m not certain that his notice is at all good for her. I’m saying it now: I’m not a Rochester fan. Yes, I’ll admit that I loved watching William Hurt vulnerably admit love to a much younger Charlotte Gainsbourg under the artful direction of Franco Zeffirelli (1996). But today, as Michael Fassbender eerily enveloped Mia Wasikowska, I felt like I was taking an “Issues of Abuse” class. Mia certainly proves a lovely Jane. She is likable and otherworldly, just as a Jane should be. Rochester plays his part beautifully, but I’m left wishing I could send Jane a ticket to London to get her out of the moors and into a place with more fish in the sea. Oh, Jane. Tragic.
JUSTICE or Cruel Fate?
Together, at last, as equals. She: now rich, handsome, fulfilled, but lonely still seeks him out. He: now lowly, lost, poor, maimed, blinded, but freed from his prior responsibilities may marry. They are finally equals. Right? Then why the knots in my stomach?
I’m not saying that a happy ending is a must. But hope is. If I’m left with the only hope that a young, thoughtful, accomplished girl can finally be in love with a staunch, deceitful, abusive man, I remain hopeless, feckless, daunted.
Oh, Jane. Poor, poor Jane Eyre. And poor me. And poor Annie. And poor Claire for having slipped away for distraction only to be dragged by the perfunctory Victorian bonnets across the lonely moors of Britain. At least, as it was so aptly put afterward, it was “like, a gothic piece, with, like no Edwards or, like, Jacobs to worry about.” Yes, at least that.