Saturday, April 2, 2016

Jane Eyre 2006

Normally I'm not a big fan of Jane Eyre. I find the book boring, full of Victorian moralising strangely mixed with Victorian feminism. Yet, like everybody else, I watched several screen adaptations of the novel.

The one from 1983 with Timothy Dalton is considered more or less a classic one, at least for our generation, as there were plenty of screen versions made before including several Indian ones. Then there was the one from 1996 which my friend loved and many many others. The story stays popular for some reason, may be because there is so little quality romance produced by contemporary authors.

Anyway, recently I watched the BBC 2006 mini series for the second time and I really enjoyed it. First, I liked the actors. Second, I liked the fact that unlike the other two adaptations they chose not to lay the accent on the general horribleness of Victorian society, or the hypocrisy of the clergy, or how disgusting all the wealthy people are.

 The 2006 version chiefly concentrates on the relationship between Jane and Mr Rochester and its development. It even manages to tone down the famous "feminist" monologue of Jane so instead of her proclaiming herself his equal in everything she becomes his social equal which is more or less true since she comes from a "good" family and has a decent education.

The only minus point I could find is that they omitted the fact that Mr Rochester partially regained his eyesight in the end which made him less dependent on Jane, but if you know the story it's not a problem. In short, I find 2006 Jane Eyre a quality production and would recommend it to anyone.

P.S. While watching it I pondered on the fact that when Jane ran away from Rochester and nearly died she literally chose death over the dishonour of being his mistress. Honour for Victorians wasn't just an empty word and you can see it reflected in literature of the times. While nowadays, young women openly cohabit with men and nobody turns an eye, least of all their parents.  Just as Victorians were idealistic we appear to only be concerned with material things. It's a strange world we live in...


  1. I worked as our church's secretary for about four years. During that time, lots of people came in needing food. Most of them were in poverty due to sinful situations of cohabiting, having a baby or five to feed while boyfriend or boyfriends left the mother with all the babies, who may have left them with the grandmother. Many times, they'd openly talk about living together right there in a church office without batting an eye. One mother brought in her pregnant daughter with the boyfriend/father asking if we could put them in a hotel for the night. We couldn't because they were not married, and the mother said she had never thought of that. What? Like you said, a strange world we live in.

  2. Sharon, lower classes over here pretty much ditched marriage or rather, they marry after the birth of their second child. What I find more shocking, is that middle and even UM class are following suit.

  3. Housewife from FinlandApril 4, 2016 at 3:11 AM

    That 2006 version is my favourite of the Jane Eyre -films. The actors really suite the roles.

    I love Jane Eyre and it's victorian morals. :) Feminism bothers me a bit, but maybe Jane just made "necessity a virtue"? She HAD TO make her own living, so maybe she decided that actually that was what she wanted. And concidering mr. Rochester's character, maybe it was wise move to claim that she want's to be Adele's governess even if they are married. Mr. Rochester is the sort of man who loses his respect easily, I think. I have never really admired him.

    About strange world: In victorian times, if some of your friend did something (openly) sinful, it was accepted -and expected- to exclude her from your social circles. Nowadays if you "abandon" your friens because they do not meet your standards it is concidered extremely rude. But if you abandon your husband because you find him boring, it is totally acceptable!

  4. Housewife, true about Rochester, I don't like him, either:)

    The best thing about 2006 version is that it omits all this feminist stuff and never glorifies the fact that Jane has to earn her own living. In fact, she appears to be pretty happy to quit teaching when she inherits the money. And, of course, in the end she devotes herself to the care of her husband and family.

    As for Victorian morals, in Jane's case she had really no one to shun her and Rochester offered to take her abroad where nobody knew them and they could pass for a married couple. Since he had no legitimate children, he could probably even provide some inheritance for her children should she have some. She just couldn't do it because it was a dishonourable thing and she would lose all self-respect. Like in that poem Soldier of Fortune, where the man realises he'll never be able to live with himself if he commits a cowardly act. It's nearly lost on modern folks because our society doesn't have the concept of honour any more. They would understand shunning as a material consequence but they don't understand remorse.

  5. Housewife from FinlandApril 4, 2016 at 8:35 AM

    I think it wasn't all about morals; she also remembered, how mr. Rochester despised his previous mistresses and realized that he would not respect her anymore, if she would become one.

  6. You mean the mother of Adele? She was a professional "woman of easy virtue" so Mr. Rochester's attitude was quite logical. It's quite possible Jane thought of it but I also imagine she realised she'd lose her own self-respect and that was much worse. It was against her code of honour. I think the poem I mentioned expresses this attitude very well:

    "Ah, yes, I must . . . for if I do this thing,
    How can I look into your face again?
    Knowing you think me more than half a king,
    I with my craven heart, my honour slain."

  7. Have you seen The Scarlet Pimpernel? The 1935 version, not the one with Jane Seymour. It's the same story. He saw his wife's betrayal as a stain on his family name and was willing to die to erase it.

  8. Housewife from FinlandApril 5, 2016 at 2:27 AM

    In the book there were other mistressess as well, Ciaginta and Clara. And I had to check my copy of Jane Eyre, she DID think that if she would become mr. Rochester's mistress, he would end up despising her like those previous ones. He did "love" them, or at least Adele's mother, too...

    Now I am not trying to question her honour, I am just saying that she was both moral AND calculating. Both morals and common sense told her to leave him.

    I haven't seen the Scarlet Pimpernel and I am not familiar with the story. You recommend?

  9. I'll admit that I first read the book long ago, so I base my observations solely on the TV-series and that's how it came across, at least to me. I don't think it's fair to call Jane calculating, she just had enough common sense but her feelings for him were strong enough that she had to run away. She probably understood if she stayed in his neighbourhood she'd succumb to temptation.

    Scarlet Pimp is a great story, both old and new version. You can watch both on YouTube:

    Here is a fan video to give you an idea what the story is all about: