Friday, September 30, 2011

Top 10 "Jane Eyre" Leaving Scenes

Edit May 16, 2018: For updated and added reviews and content, visit my new website Lit Lovers & Corset Laces

Blurry eyed, I dogeared the last page of the chapter and placed it neatly under my pillow (a habit of mine when I read a book before going to sleep). Warm tears pushed past my lashes and silently made their way down my cheeks. Thus, this is how I passed the first few moments after reading Chapter Twenty-Seven of Jane Eyre. I had never cried over the pages of a book before; no written word had ever moved me in such a way. But I felt such agony in Jane's words; an indescribable sense of torment and strength intermixed in one soul.

Chapter Twenty-Seven earned a special place in my heart. The proposal had been enjoyable. I remember halting, sticking a finger in the page and sitting still for a moment to contain the erratic beating of my heart after Rochester uttered the words "equal" and "likeness". However, Chapter Twenty-Seven touched the very depths of my mind and heart. After experiencing my first heartbreak (one rather relatable to Jane's circumstances), I reread the pages only to stain them with tears again. It was then that I decided to become a woman more like Jane Eyre. She was a girl not much older than I. If she could face the world (and the man begging her to succumb to beautifully tempting destruction) with shoulders squared and chin up, why couldn't I? 

Such are the reasons why the "Leaving Scene" is single-handedly the most important portion of any adaptation in my mind. The proposal is important, but I allow myself to make certain excuses in that area. The leaving scene is given no optimism. It is scrutinized with weighty contemplation. If disgraced, the movie itself cannot be seen in a positive light. I've been brimming with anticipation; waiting for the day when I might rank this scene and share it with you, readers. That day is here. 

But this ranking is actually a lot different from my previous rankings. Often times I admit to you that "this narrowly made it past" or "this could have been a tie". These rankings, however, are concrete. I have placed each in the exact spot that I think it should be, and in my mind that place is permanent (until another adaptation comes out and I have to factor it in). Of course, to you I might have made some hideous mistakes so (as always) I encourage comments! 

#10: Jane Eyre 1934

The magnitude to which this scene was dismantled and butchered was so horrible that it was insanely funny (as was the rest of the movie). I couldn't bear to watch it, and yet I replayed it three times just to give myself a good laugh. In circumstances such as these, one can't help but laugh. If I had expected something good then I might have been angry, but after the first five minutes of the film I knew that it wouldn't amount to anything. At least we can give it some credit where we couldn't render it in other scenes. Even that isn't worth mentioning, however. I can barely keep a straight face while writing this paragraph when I think of how Bertha just marches straight into the room and asks, "Are we getting married again?"
Grade: F-

#9: Jane Eyre 1996

Now this actually did anger me for the simple reason that the leaving scene doesn't even exist. There's no possible way that one could even call this a leaving scene! It's merely a quick conversation on Jane's way out the door. In fact, it reminded me of when I leave for school in the morning. My mother stumbles into the kitchen just as I'm packed and on my way out. "I love you," she says. I give her a quick "I love you too" and then leave. Such is the same principle in this leaving scene, only there is a "this is the last time I can say it" after the "I love you too." It is catastrophic! To spend less than a minute on one of the most pivotal parts of the novel when time has been wasted in other areas of the adaptation is an unforgivable sin in my eyes. My face burns at the thought of it. Yet, even this ruinous mistake might have been redeemable if Charlotte Gainsbourg had left the room with even the slightest trace of suffering, conflict, or something! The woman just walks out as if she's departing for a casual walk.
Grade: F

#8: Jane Eyre 1949

Despite the fact that the adaptation was butchered from top to bottom, the director must have still understood the sanctity of the scene because it ended up being the best part of the adaptation. Yes, it was still horrible; but at least it was there (even with its brevity). Jane once again has the dilemma of being too nonchalant about leaving, but Charlton Heston puts up a decent effort that isn't all that bad. He holds her veil in his hands and then, after sensing the merest movement, jumps from where he stands and pleads, "Jane, you won't leave me?" in a way that even evokes a little bit of emotion. Kneeling before her he summarizes a chapter in two sentences and then the scene is done, but at least there was something. It wasn't good, please don't get me wrong. It failed miserably. But it worked enough to actually rank above ninth place.
Grade: F

#7: Jane Eyre 1997

Ciaran Hinds must have been just as angry as I was. Yes, that last sentence was a little bit of a joke, but it's the only plausible explanation because the only emotion I received from those five minutes was grouchiness. Jane walks through the door; he follows her and yells at her, mocking her for being so "immature" when he's the one throwing a temper tantrum. She goes down the stairs and he's still yelling at her. They go out to the garden and he's still yelling. Rochester is many things during his last effort to keep Jane, but he was most certainly not angry. From what I recall there are moments of passion and frustration, but they come and go. When he yells, Jane starts to cry and in a moment he is at her side comforting her and apologizing. When he grabs her in a firm grip, he realizes that it can do nothing because "it is her soul that he wants and not alone her brittle frame." Hinds just yells. Compound that with the fact that the script strayed significantly from the path the novel laid out and made the movie seem like some sappy soap opera, and it almost makes me cringe. I would much rather hear lines of Brontean language than the blatant cheesiness of, "I'm leaving for us, Edward; for what we have." Oh, and Rochester DOES NOT just let Jane walk out!
Grade: F+

#6: Jane Eyre 1973 

The first part of this scenes is done beautifully. The look with which Michael Jayston walks through the door brought tears to my eyes before Jane even fell into his arms. He is downtrodden, hopeless; tender. As he takes her in his arms and inquires whether her heart has been weeping blood he says it as if his own heart has been doing the same. However, this is as far as the greatness extends. When the setting changes, so does the performance; heading in a downward spiral into nothingness. I was never a strict fan of Sorcha Cusack's take on Jane, but I can soundly say that she was not so bad here. She made it clear that Jane's love for Rochester was still strong but still managed to capture the independence Jane needed to leave. However, Michael Jayston's performance declined. Perhaps it's just me, but I found no urgency in Rochester's plea. There is no sense of absolute need. Not to say that this scene isn't good, because it is. The adaptation as a whole was solid, but it was only solid and nothing beyond that.
Grade: C-

#5: Jane Eyre 2006

Oh yes, this version sure did take a drop. Were you surprised? After all my previous rankings, one would think that this scene would take another spot in the top three. Nope. Sorry to you diehard '06 fans, but despite all the arguments given to me as to why I should like this scene, I still don't. There is no fallacy in chemistry, I will admit that. Ruth and Toby have a magnetism on camera that is spiritually palpable in every scene, including this one. The major error that brought this scene so far below the mark was the lack of faithfulness. The truth of the matter is that despite the blazing passion between the two characters, Jane and Rochester did not make out in Jane's room the night before she left. And even that pales in comparison to the fact that all of the original dialogue from Chapter Twenty-Seven of the novel was discarded. I'm pretty sure that I might not have minded the kissing so much if it had contained at least ONE sentence identical to that in the book. As it is, the scene is just hideously unfaithful and catered much too much to a younger audience. '06 fans will argue that placing Rochester on top of Jane with his lips on hers gives the viewer an idea of just how much temptation Jane was faced with. That is very true. Yet, it does not eradicate the lack of dialogue. I'm sure the scene provided a lot of sex appeal for new readers, but there has to be a balance between a fresh take on the story and the preservation of the essentials.
Grade: C+

#4: Jane Eyre 1944

The main reason for the 1944's fourth-ranked spot was the fact that Rochester's lines were delivered beautifully and with a commendable faithfulness to the book. He commands the entire scene. Joan Fontaine gets drowned out by Orson Welles intense stares and dazzling delivery of Rochester's last plea. She was already done a disservice by that lack of lines given to her during the scene, but Joan Fontaine was still too vulnerable to be the decisive Jane we needed to see in this scene. The version ranked so high not so much because of its greatness (though it is decidedly great) but because of the lack of competition given from other versions. However, I do not wish to strip all credit away. Orson Welles' performance during this scene was absolutely powerful. His eyes never stray from Jane. It is almost as if he's afraid to take them off of her for fear that she might slip away while he blinks. As he recaps on the first night he ever laid eyes on her, my eyes never fail to fill with tears. The tenderness and yet strength with which he speaks to her is gorgeous, and as he slips from behind the shadows and cries out to her asking if she still loves him I always feel the beginnings of the first tear slipping from my lashes. Beautifully done, Orson. Horribly underrated!
Grade: B 

#3: Jane Eyre 1983

The 1983 finds itself in the top three once again. With Timothy Dalton playing Rochester, where can you go wrong? I have an answer for that. In almost every way, this scene was nearly perfect. The script once again proves extremely faithful. Zelah Clarke (who I have a tendency to be critical of because of her age and composure) stepped her game up and surged her character with emotion. The problem here is that Timothy imbues his with a bit too much emotion. In other words, there were various points in this leaving scene where the performances were borderline cheesy. Disagree if you wish, but to me there is a want of artistic restraint in Timothy's outbursts of passion. I'll put some of this down to the fact that this is actually a relatively old adaptation, but I can't omit it completely. Sometimes our leading man needs to learn that less is more (in some cases). Of course, there is striking beauty in this scene as well or else it wouldn't have taken the third spot. There are decided moments of pure perfection such as when Rochester asks, "Do you mean to go one way in the world and leave me to go another?" And as he kisses her forehead and the glimmer of that one tear sliding down his cheek catches the light, I am completely taken in. Never has a kiss on the forehead or cheek seemed so filled with passion and desire. The emotion present in those few kisses easily beat out many sex scenes in modern movies. I loved it. 
Grade: B+

#2: Jane Eyre 1970 

There is almost a lack of words to describe just how profoundly this scene touched me. It is not the most faithful, but it does a wonderful job of integrating modern vernacular with specific quotes from Chapter Twenty-Seven of the novel. George C. Scott and Susannah York share the scene with equal footing. No one overpowers the other; they work together to compose a scene of raw passion and bared souls. We do not know what Jane will choose; they each argue their case so well. She insists to be recognized as the fortress she is, and then he lays his hands on her waist and looks up with pleading eyes and we wonder if she's making the right choice. Susannah's Jane is mighty, and yet still loving. We are never in doubt of her feelings for the man opposite her. George C. Scott's Rochester is taciturn at first, but with a mere flicker of the eye his entire face changes as if he knows he can never stay angry with her. We get the overwhelming sense that Rochester does indeed need this woman. That is what a leaving scene should be like. The audience should feel the same uncertainty that Jane herself is feeling. She is resolved to leave, and yet at moments she feels as if it is impossible to wrench herself away. So she does what the Jane in the novel did. She allows Rochester to go to bed (or in this case, fall asleep sitting in a chair) with neither a promise to stay or a resolution to leave. When the early morning hours arrive, she vanishes because it is the only way she can bring herself to leave. She knows that if he wakes then he will successfully change her mind. Lovely, lovely, lovely scene from top to bottom.
Grade: A-

#1: Jane Eyre 2011

I can hear the grumbles already. In many other rankings I have often admitted to just how close the 2011 was to another. In this one I have absolutely no doubts or regrets. This leaving scene is just the best, hands down. I have not seen a leaving scene close to its equal. The whole scene is only five minutes, but yet I feel as if it captured Chapter Twenty-Seven the best. There was obvious faithfulness to Bronte's language, but the way in which Wasikowska and Fassbender delivered the lines was so natural that it seems to flow off of the tips of their tongues. Mia's performance is filled with genuine and almost tangible emotion. With each flash of the camera her eyes fill more. Yet, for most of the scene she is determined to repress them. I can feel her soul tearing. After each of Rochester's lines there is a slight pause; a pause that means the world. Those simple pauses tell the audience that Jane is torn; that she earnestly wishes to do what Rochester is asking her to but that she knows she can't. When her tears finally spill forth, so do mine. In that moment Mia Wasikowska is Jane. And when she says "You have a wife", she does so in a way that makes us feel as if it hurts her to utter it aloud. Michael Fassbender matches her intensity with every word. Laying on the floor outside of Jane's door, the first thing we hear from him is tenderness. That tenderness escalates to urgency, and that urgency spills over into unrepressed passion. There is no kiss in these scene, and yet that moment when he takes Jane's neck into his hands I feel the sexual tension; the repression of the desire that each character is trying so hard to fight. And then he cries, "It is your soul that I want." At that moment all hearts (including mine) have completed the process of breaking and I am fully assured that there is no leaving scene to equal this.
Grade: A+

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Top 10 "Jane Eyre" Proposals

Edit May 16, 2018: For updated and added reviews and content, visit my new website Lit Lovers & Corset Laces

Oh yes, it's about that time. I have done no Jane Eyre comparisons/ranking since my Bonnie's "Jane Eyre" rankings post. Seeing that most of you fellow bloggers seem to eat it up and I get to have the joy of communicating with you, I figured that it is once again time to sift through the numerous Jane Eyre adaptations once again.

Oh, the proposal scene! Could I even count the times I've cried while reading those pages? What reader can forget that timeless battle cry? "Do you think that because I am poor, obscure, plain and little that I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! I have as much soul as you and full as much heart!" And what of the smoldering Rochester, who takes the struggling Jane into his arms and says, "My bride is here because my equal is here, and my likeness." 

Every adaptation of the novel is judged through differing eyes, but I'm pretty sure that when one judges it, the "proposal scene" normally accounts for at least 1/4 of the overall movie. If it doesn't have a good proposal scene, how could it possibly be considered a good movie (unless the "leaving scene" or "reunion scene" atone for it)?

So you know the basic idea. There are ten popular adaptations of Jane Eyre. Each proposal scene will be rated from last to first. Perhaps you might be surprised by what you see, perhaps not. Either way, PLEASE comment. It makes my day. :)

P.S: Some of the videos don't show the proposal in their entirety. The full 1944 isn't available on Youtube and neither is the 2011, but the rest should be in tact. 

#10: Jane Eyre 1934

Be prepared; this film will probably take a permanent last place in every Jane Eyre adaptation ranking I ever write. It was horrible. Everything about it was bad. Not only was the acting the worst I've ever seen, but it didn't even preserve a word of dialogue from the book. The woman who played Jane (I won't endeavor to remember her name) sounded whiny. Colin Clive was a bit better, but still BAD. There was a strange shriek in the middle of a tender moment that made me laugh. Bad, bad, bad....BAD. I laughed until tears came to my eyes.
Grade: F-

#9: Jane Eyre 1949
It's only slightly better than its precedent, but it too was horrible. The proposal was (once again) done inside of a room instead of outdoors and there was also absolutely no faithfulness to the novel. Why did they even bother making these adaptations if they weren't going to use the source material as a guide? Charlton Heston was young at the time, so the amazing actor he later became is almost nonexistent in this made-for-TV Rochester. As he kisses Miss Jane it seems as though he's breaking her neck (the common forties kiss). I don't have much of a comment to give. Slightly better than the 1934...still an epic fail.
Grade: F

#8: Jane Eyre 1973

This version had all the key components of the proposal scene mentioned in the book. It was outside, all the quotes were there, it took place at night (complete with the rain). And yet the leads fell horribly short. Was it the lack of forcefulness on Sorcha Cusack's part, the complete awkwardness with which Michael Jayston delivers supposedly passionate lines, or the utter lack of chemistry between the two that made this proposal so unappealing? Answer: all of the above. The technical elements were most definitely there; the emotional essentials were virtually nonexistent. Where is the passion dripping from their words? Why do I not feel the breaking of Jane's heart when Sorcha delivers her lines? Why does Jayston seem weird and completely unable to emote a good Rochester? I was heavily disappointed.
Grade: D

#7: Jane Eyre 1996

It wasn't all that bad, but it most certainly wasn't good. William Hurt's sleepy and rather nonchalant Rochester doesn't change, making this proposal seem like a drawling mess. Charlotte Gainsbourg seemed to be trying to hard and her Rochester wasn't trying hard enough. It's a horrible combination. Everything from the beginning to the "and so your are Jane" seemed catastrophic, and yet there was a slight moment during the ceaseless kisses and "and so, and so" that I felt the beginnings of a little knot in my throat. It disappeared for another few minutes then came back during the "then stay and marry me" and then was completely wiped away by an awkward kiss and a lack of rain falling from the sky. The rain/thunder/lightning deal is extremely important to me. The symbolism behind the weather in the novel is something too important not to include in an adaptation.
Grade: D+

#6: Jane Eyre 1944

This proposal only fought its way ahead of the 1996 because of the actions before the actual proposal (which I count as part of the overall "proposal scene"). Orson Welles appears in the garden and emits an intense stare at an unaware Joan Fontaine as he answers, "I changed my mind." Of course, the aforementioned line and the idea that he's supposed to be leaving with the Ingrams is a large deviation from the novel, but after those few lines were done with the scene resumed a rather faithful flow. Orson Welles follows Jane as she walks in front of him, his eyes never leaving her. For those few precious seconds before Jane's emotions come forth, I always note this feeling of magnetism between the two that is worth a thousand 1996 proposal scenes altogether. However, after that, things don't live up to expectations. Joan Fontaine's assertion of independence is much too restrained and when she utters the words "poor, obscure, plain, and little" it's almost impossible to believe that it's coming from her beautiful lips. The director took the Gothic feel to the extreme, stripping away all the passion from the scene and rushing all the dialogue thereafter. Everything just flew by, ending with a storm coming out of nowhere. BUT there was a lightning-struck tree!
Grade: C-

#5: Jane Eyre 1997

I bet you're wondering why I ranked it so high after I've made such a point to mention my disgust with the horrible kiss. But if you disregard that, it's not so bad of a scene. Of course, this proposal scene received a large chunk of points because of Samantha Morton's spot-on performance. Her declaration of equality was positively moving. For those few minutes, she was Jane. Tears dripped on a steely face, and I felt Jane defiantly trying to keep her heart from breaking. When she says, "I am your equal, and you have treated me as such" I want to burst into applause. On the other hand, there is a slight lack of faithfulness to the novel in dialogue. It was almost like they were reading a Sparknotes version of Jane Eyre that paraphrased the general idea. I give points for the rain, but deduct those same points for the absence of lightning. Oh, and BAD kiss!!!! I just had to add that point once again.
Grade: C

#4: Jane Eyre 1970

Perhaps I ranked this too high. It seems as though the 1970 has a power that makes it appealing despite its lack of faithfulness. I'm sorry, but something about this proposal scene was beautiful! Maybe its the riveting score or the way Susannah York's Jane allows the audience to experience a moment of sheer vulnerability when she pleads, "Please, don't make me foolish." Whatever the cause may be, I just can't resist this proposal scene. There was no night, no rain, no lightning, no faithfulness at all, and yet I couldn't even begrudge the failings because of the emotional chemistry. If only a faithful adaptation could have that much intensity! It's just beautiful. The proposal scene of this movie never fails to send tears running to the brink of my eyes. Still, I've been rather hard with my grades today and because of the dismissal of all the technical qualities, it still doesn't have too good of a grade.
Grade: C+

#3: Jane Eyre 1983

From here the race got really tight. Once again, the 1983 takes a solid third. Dalton delivers a knockout performance so true to the Rochester I imagined in the novel. His portrayal was breathtaking. I remember the first time I read the novel. One thing I remember with perfect clarity is when Jane asks Rochester to turn his face to the light so that she can study him. Jane then remarks that, "His face was very much agitated and very much flushed, and there were strong workings in the features, and strange gleams in the eyes." When Timothy Dalton steps from the shadows and lets the light fall on his features, he is the epitome of that description. He brings the perfect blend of agitation, passion, and slight eccentricity that Jane describes in the proposal. Yet, Zelah falls short, which is what lands this proposal scene at third. We must take into account that the proposal is as much about Jane's "declaration of independence" as it is about Rochester's passionate offer. It's such a shame that Dalton didn't have something better to work with. Oh, and once again there was no rain or lightning. Is it that hard to include?
Grade: B++

#2: Jane Eyre 2011

Are you surprised that I didn't rank it first? After all the talking I've been doing about the adaptation, you'd think that I might rank it first in everything. This proposal was lovely in every aspect. Let's start from the beginning. Jane walks along the path and Rochester runs after her. Michael Fassbender blocks her path, walking backwards in front of her; wearing a nervous and yet adoring smile as he asks her whether she likes Thornfield. Mia's Jane is surly, resolved not to let him know the misery she's feeling. Her answers to his questions are direct and acerbic and she tries not to look at him. He then asks, "We've been good friends, haven't we?" He never takes his eyes off of her, and as he turns back around to walk beside her we see their shoulders bump ever so slightly in a moment of brisk and kinetic contact. Jane then starts to break down, and if you listen you can hear the break in Mia's voice as she replies, "Yes sir." It's simply beautiful. Fast forward and then rain starts. The two run inside, skipping through Thornfield's foyer in indomitable bliss. Jane makes a dash up the stairs. Rochester eagerly pursues her, catches her by the arm, and she jumps willingly back into his embrace to share another loving kiss. Yes, there is rain. Yes, there is a lightning struck tree that will wedge its way back into the movie by the end. Yes, there is faithfulness to the novel ("You are my equal and my likeness")! Why wouldn't you rank it near the top?
Grade: A

#1: Jane Eyre 2006

Yes, I ranked it first! I know I've been so critical of the proposal scene in this version (and of the adaptation in general), but after revisiting this scene again I was once again taken by what I used to love about it. I used to ridicule the display of snot and what I used to think of as an overreaction, but I might actually take those comments back. Ruth Wilson's Jane is in a state of mental distress. She bares her soul before Rochester, lays it all on the table, and still tries to wriggle from his grasp in the midst of blinding tears. It's hard not to admire that kind of performance. What would we do if we were in the same position? I would cry, and I would probably cry just as hard as Ruth was crying in this scene. Across from her plays a passionate Toby Stephens who listens with tense composure as she pours her heart out to him. When she suggests the idea that she might actually leave him he jumps up and grabs her as if the thought is unbearable, firmly exclaiming, "You will not leave me Jane." The scene is ugly.  She wipes her nose on her sleeve and his voice breaks with alarming severity. It's raw, realistic, and completely akin to the relationship between the Jane and Rochester of the novel. Amidst tearstained cheeks, she asks him if he's in earnest. He entreats her to call him by his name in a way that makes my heart melt and tears come to my eyes. The significance of his pleading her to call him by his Christian name is something easily missed in other adaptions (and even in the novel), but you can feel it here. As they kiss the thunder rumbles in the distance and the rain starts to pour. As they jog back to Thornfield laughing under the rain, a lightning bolt comes from the sky and strikes the tree under which they sat with symbolic power. This proposal scene was very near perfect.
Grade: A 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Thoughts on Wide Sargasso Sea

I woke up this morning to a sunny, dew-dropped day. Yawning, stretching out my taut limbs, and letting my eyes adjust to the light streaming through my blinds, what do you think was my first thought of the day? It could have been the fact that I have choir practice or that I finish up my last two hours of Driver's Ed today. Perhaps I was contemplating on the excitement that my best friend is sleeping over at my house tonight. But no, my mind was occupied by Wide Sargasso Sea.

Not much of a way to start the morning, huh? After all, I've despised Wide Sargasso Sea even before I finished the novel. Something about taking the sanctity of Rochester's character and turning it into a villain (well, even more of a villain I should say) was just unforgivable in my mind. I couldn't fathom my beloved Byronic hero being turned into something I couldn't see him as. Not to say that I saw him as perfect, because I didn't. Rochester had a list of obvious (and almost inexcusable) flaws. Perhaps I couldn't bear the thought of taking those flaws and turning him into a character completely consumed by them.

But I can't help but have an artistic appreciation for Wide Sargasso Sea. It is a valiant effort to dare the opinions of Jane Eyre puritans and orchestrate a story told from the POV of the woman in the attic. If I were an author, I would probably take the same route. With a novel such as Jane Eyre told in the first-person, there's so many allies left open for different interpretation, and when one examines them we find that Bertha's alley is perhaps the widest. What do we actually know about the lunatic hidden away on the third floor besides what Rochester tells us? Jean Rhys capitalizes on Rochester's weakest point to tell Bertha's story. We only know what Rochester tells us, and from what we've seen throughout Jane Eyre, Rochester isn't always the most honest of men. Hmmm...

It's actually quite interesting to shift the focus to the character that often times readers think the least about. In the source material, Miss Bertha Antoinetta Mason is almost just an inserted obstacle. She serves no other purpose than to make things harder for the heroine we're supposed to be focusing on. The focus is never for a minute on the character herself; she merely functions as a tool to peal away the layers of other characters (namely Jane and Rochester).

 For example, during the whole revelation of Bertha's existence, the heart of emotion still lies with a tortured Rochester. Who do we fill pity for? Least of all Bertha who's been locked up in a decrepit and fly-ridden attic for all these years. Our thoughts are bent only on Jane and Rochester. What will become of their relationship? What will Jane do? Awww, poor Rochester. And even in the end if we sit down and do some serious introspection, most of us will admit that we were almost relieved when Bertha threw herself off the roof because it was a basic signal that Jane and Rochester were free to be together.

Jean Rhys wipes away that attitude by making Bertha a person. She wasn't always a lunatic. When she was young and beautiful she wanted all the same things that Jane wished for. She was at the mercy of her position in the exact same way Jane was. Entering into an arranged marriage with Rochester might not have been as romantic as a passionate affair with miss Jane Eyre, but do you really think that Bertha knew what she was getting herself into any more than Rochester did?

Grant it, what I'm saying isn't exactly how Rhys paints it. In Wide Sargasso Sea, Miss Mason is the victim, Rochester was in on the bargain the whole time, and it was she who fell madly in love with a man who was using her only to discard her later.

Wide Sargasso Sea take an extreme view on the story but after finishing it and recovering from my initial disgust, I did learn to see Bertha Mason differently than I had before. Though Rhys's portrayal of the story is never in my mind when I read the actual source material (thank goodness), it still managed to impact me in a way that made me a better reader of Jane Eyre. That's the idea here. You might hate the story or absolutely adore it, but either way it helps mold you into a better reader.

That's how I took it, anyway. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wuthering Heights 2011 Trailer

The news isn't new, so I don't have to trouble myself with announcing it. Yes, the new trailer for Wuthering Heights has been released.

My sole purpose in writing this post is (as always) to share what opinions I have to give. The first time I watched this the dominant question in my mind was, "Can this really be called a trailer?"

Oh yes it can. Not an average, trailer of course. But then, Miss Andrea Arnold isn't an average director (or average human for that matter...did anyone see what she wore to the Venice Film Festival?). I'm sure that this trailer echoes the movie, which once again proves my assumption correct. This film is going to portray the Bronte world realistically, and with that reality will come cruelty. We thought Cary Fukunaga's Jane Eyre was harsh just because poor Jane got hit upside the head with a book? I don't think any of that will compare to what this movie will be with its animalistic sex scenes, primitive passions, and feral Yorkshire wildlife shot with the blatancy of a handheld camera.

I can also pretty much assume that I was right about the whole "no dialogue" thing. One sentence in the trailer? I've never seen that before (and I don't believe I've ever witnessed a trailer without a soundtrack behind it either).

This movie will be an interesting piece to watch. I don't think that Andrea was going for faithfulness to the romantic dialogue of the source material here, but to the wildness of both the environment and the emotions of the characters. This won't be your regular old Wuthering Heights adaptation. It is taking a new approach; an approach that might be the 19th century equivalent of Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank. No details are spared. We will be forced to get a glimpse of the real world is it was for Heathcliff and Cathy. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

"Jane Eyre's Husband" Available in Paperback

Do you ever have the weirdest inclination to go out of your way and look at things you already have? It's a perplexing question, and if any of you answer "no" then I must automatically assume that I'm going crazy.  It's something I have a tendency to do all the time. For example, I still read Jane Eyre 2011 reviews even though I've already seen it. When I'm roaming around Walmart with nothing to do while I wait for my mother's prescription to be filled, I often cruise by Little Dragon's album, Ritual Union, just to see if it's still there (even though I have the whole album on itunes on perpetual replay). Early this Saturday morning, I was perusing Amazon in search of a book that might catch my eye and for some reason I found my fingers typing in Jane Eyre's Husband

It was a lovely book; and it sparked a lit lover E-tantrum (known as my "Real" Books post) on this blog because at the time it was only available through Kindle software. The author herself stopped by this humble written dwelling to sooth me (us), and a few weeks ago (or maybe months ago) she returned to inform us that it was now available in paperback. 

Where was my head when I was reading that comment? I can't really remember. But since the day I broke down and downloaded Kindle software to my computer just to lay my eyes on the book I had always dreamed of, I've read it twice. The first time, I was ecstatic. I wrote a post sporadically sharing what it was that I loved so much about the novel, but since that day not only have I read it again, but I've also developed a more systematic way of writing reviews and sharing my feelings. Fear not, Miss (or Mrs.) Tara Bradley. My opinion has not altered. If anything, it has strengthened. But I feel as if my last review did not do your lovely book justice. 

First, I might as well correct myself and share with you the whole title: Jane Eyre's Husband: The Life of Edward Rochester. And that's exactly what this book is; the Rochester equivalent of Jane Eyre itself. Somewhere behind the scenes, an omniscient narrator is writing a biography of the life of Edward Fairfax Rochester that stretches from the very beginnings of his life to beyond the end of it. It is a long book; it took me a week to read (which is a long time for me). But what else would one expect when we're given a full view into the life of such a complex character? 

Jane Eyre's Husband preserves every character mentioned in Jane Eyre, including Rochester himself. Why would I include that point? Because in some Jane Eyre adaptations, Rochester is warped into a person that Charlotte Bronte didn't paint him to be. In Wide Sargasso Sea, he's a spoiled and insensitive Englishman with no cultural respect. In Rochester, he's portrayed as slightly sex-crazed. It's good to find an adapted novel that depicts him as the man that (I believe) Charlotte Bronte truly wished him to be. I have a feeling that if that renowned author were alive today, she would read this and smile. The characters that seemed so minuscule in Jane's life (such as Dr. Carter) are developed and turned into major players in Rochester's world. People shadowed by suspicion (Grace Poole/Richard Mason) through Jane's eyes are made into real people with pasts, emotions, and conflicts. 

Though told in a written style that is more modern than the source material, the novel preserves the culture of the time period. Bradley included historically accurate details; details that give the reader insight into the social restraints of the era. She takes us back into a time when sex was considered a woman's duty rather than an act of pleasure, when girls didn't experience their monthlies until late in their teens, and when embracing ones sexuality was uncommon. All the themes from the source material are revisited through Rochester's experiences. We see Jane and Rochester's relationship from different viewpoints that give us a better idea and appreciation of a strong and timeless literary love. 

Tara Bradley, well done. :) 


Thursday, September 15, 2011

"The Age of Innocence" by Edith Wharton Review

Disappointment is a heavy burden to bear. Unfortunately, this burden will be mine until next year. I knew that it was coming, but I didn't want to acknowledge it. However, my denial doesn't wipe away the truth. Wuthering Heights 2011 won't be coming to America until 2012. Is this karma for the late release of Jane Eyre 2011 to the UK? Who knows. Either way, Wuthering Heights 2011 is no longer Wuthering Heights 2011 to us here in the states.

To temper the state of defeat, however, I still have the consolation that the much anticipated A Dangerous Method (starring Viggo Mortenson, Michael Fassbender, and Kiera Knightley) will actually be released in late November in the US; a full three months earlier than it was actually expected to be released. Still, my feeling of despair at not having Wuthering Heights on a screen in front of me before 2011 is sour. What does one do when they're faced with such a letdown? They read.

In my case, they read The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton.

After years of keeping my nose in British literature, I was surprised to find that such a marvelous work could be written by Americans (I do not have much of a taste for American lit). Literary critics call pieces like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn the epitome of American literature, but my humble opinion refutes that idea to the fullest. Obviously, those people have not read The Age of Innocence. The artistry with which Edith Wharton composed the novel is astounding. The literary genius present in her writing is among the best I've ever read.

Newland Archer, a wealthy aristocrat of 1870's New York, lives a seemingly perfect life in a high social sphere amongst the best and brightest. Related to one of the most powerful and well-respected families in the area, armed with a commendable position, and endowed with appealing manners, it isn't surprising when Newland proposes to the equally beautiful and wealthy May Welland. Newland is taken with his future bride, truly convinced of his affection for her, and eager to publicize their engagement.

As Newland travels a smoothly paved road towards a happy marriage, a slight pothole comes into the picture. May's european cousin, Countess Olenska, arrives in New York, bringing with her rumors of her separation from her rich husband. Her carefree attitude and rather otherworldly view of life sharply contrast to the norms of old New York society, but as he and May's marriage creeps closer, Newland finds himself becoming more intrigued by this European woman who contradicts everything he has come to know.

Newland acknowledges his growing attachment to Countess Olenska, and with the certainty that a relationship between them could never be, he pressures May to hasten their engagement. However, Newland soon finds that the very feelings he tried to so hard to overcome will haunt him and the steps he takes to eliminate them will lead him down a complex path filled with decisions. He is no longer confronted with the simple choice between two women, but of the man he is and the man he longs to be.

Of a completely different breed than a Bronte novel, but decidedly much more conflictual than an Austen piece, The Age of Innocence holds its own. I'm a reader who finds a thrill in figurative language, an element that this novel possesses in bundles. It's not a long read, nor will it probably ever rival the great British works of literature that the world has come to know so well. It is underrated; a book that may easily slip under the radar. It is the movie that should have won an Oscar, but failed to because of an early release date. Nevertheless, it is tantalizing. It is the kind of novel that one will close in a state of serenity because of its beauty, and yet the reader will feel such unrest wishing that it might not have gone so fast. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Joy's Search for Jane Eyre

And the search for Jane Eyre continues! This time it resumes with a new follower of mine, Joy. I ran into Joy's blog, Turn Pages, Press Leaves, not too long ago and immediately fell in love with it. In her writing and photography dwells the true artistic spirit. She, like the rest of us slightly-insane lit lovers, is a true Jane Eyre fan who gladly accepted my invitation to do a guest post. I do, however, owe her an apology because I'm not the timeliest "email checker". If it had not been for my sporadic thought process, you might have actually gotten to read this great post two days ago when I told myself to check my email multiple times but never did. I just looked into my inbox a few minutes ago, and after reading this I felt it a matter of necessity to write up the introduction and put up the post as soon as I could. It's absolutely lovely, and I will be the first to say that I agree with everything that you're about to read. If you enjoy these opinions as much as I do, then I encouraged you to take a look at Joy's blog (and follow it). 

Joy's Search for Jane Eyre
Like so many others before me, Jane Eyre swallowed me up the moment I opened to the first page.  It’s an interesting thing, really, because it is everything I dislike in a novel: written in first person, with a female narrator.  The female narrator has been my bane for as long as I can remember. And yet along came Jane, and threw that out the window.  I’m not saying that I’m running around willy nilly looking for books that follow this formula – because I’m not.  But I will say that I discovered a sort of friend in Jane.
 Here’s another interesting point.  I very rarely concoct specific images of characters in my mind.  In fact, I never do.  They are all strangely faceless in my mind, but for some reason, that never seems to draw away from the experience.  It does make it particularly awesome when they adapt a story I like to film, and cast someone that just “clicks” in my head.  I will say that for Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender.  But as history has already dictated,Jane Eyre is so well loved that someone else is bound to make another adaptation in the next few years, and surely there are many options for new and wonderful Janes.  So why not enjoy the “what-if” factor here?  I will forewarn I have made a few unconventional choices.  But bear with me, folks.
 And may I take a moment to fangirl a little bit about guest posting on this terrific blog?  It’s such a pleasure to read an intelligent journal such as this one, written by an equally intelligent young writer, and it is certainly a privilege to get to write for it!
 And now...onto the Janes.
 Kate Maberly

 You may recognize Kate Maberly from 1993’s The Secret Garden, one of my childhood favourites.  Though her age is working against her now, I feel that she has a youthful enough appearance that she could pull it off.  But aside from such a cosmetic factor, Kate has great subtlety, and I wish she appeared in more films.  She isn’t conventionally pretty either; in fact I would say she’s rather plain (does this description sound familiar?), but she has the captivating eyes I always imagined Jane to have – mostly because Bronte said it was so.  Plus, if you’ve seen Secret Garden, you know that she can do the stubborn hiding-my-true-feelings bit pretty convincingly.  At least, she could when she was eleven.  I assume like wine, those sorts of things get better with age.
 Sarah Bolger

 I will admit up front I have not seen a whole lot of Sarah Bolger’s acting, other than some bits of the Tudors (which I sorely need to catch up on, if anyone cares to know), but from what I have seen, I’ve found her to be fairly good, and definitely worth looking out for.  She’s about the right age too (20), and if you imagine that Jane-esque hair style on her, I believe you might be surprised at what you find.  Although I will admit she would require colour contacts.  But I love her complexion for Jane, and though she’s really quite pretty, she’s not glaringly so.  Take away the lipstick and the mascara, and I think a fine Jane lies underneath.  And just look at her expression in that picture!  Well composed, and maybe even a little bit snarky; just how I always imagined her in those early conversations with Rochester.
 Elle Fanning

 Okay, okay, hear me out!  She is way too young at the moment, which I realize, but I believe that in a few years, Elle could make a really good Jane – even if she’s American.  Why not just throw Dakota into the mix then?  Well, I’ll tell you.  Dakota is good, but Elle has that ethereal quality that I always imagine Jane to possess.  I am a huge lover of fantasy, and I think that may be why I latched onto all those endearing comments of Rochester’s about Jane’s impish qualities.  Elle has already shown that she is capable of great things, and I think in some ways, she may even be more versatile than her sister.  Imagine some dark hair on that girl, and I think she may just be able to capture that magical aspect of Jane’s existence, and also that complete innocence to the ways of the world.  Paired with the right Rochester, I think Elle could pull it off. 
 Charlotte Riley

 If you’re a Wuthering Heights fan (which I admittedly am not), you’ll know Charlotte as Catherine.  I think she did a good job of playing that character, and her Northern accent is truly endearing.  Again, not classically pretty, but still a captivating actress to watch.  Judging from her performance as Catherine, I think Charlotte could bring a great deal of raw passion to Jane’s character, especially in the proposal scene.  And I think she would do excellently against whoever was cast as St. John.
 Now, I would like to give an honorable mention to Tamzin Merchant, who actually plays Mary in the new Jane Eyre.  I personally think she has the look...

 ...and I think she may even have the acting chops.  But I exclude her from my main list only because I loved her so dearly as Mary, and wish that there had been more of the character.  Alack.  Such is the way with feature film adaptations.
 Hope you enjoyed!  Cheers all!


Turn Pages, Press Leaves

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Jane Eyre 1983 Review

I'm a writer and blogger who composes language through complete instinct. The words that scamper through my head are the same ones that assume a place on this blog, because this is one of the only places where they are allowed to roam free without revision. Writing my first essay of the school year today, I realized just how content I had become with writing my feelings without any particular way of organization. This blog seems to have spoiled me. 

Because my mind has switched back into "school mode", the carefree and rather primitive writer that summer allowed me to be has been slightly influenced by the formal student lately. For example, while I sat down to write this review, my responsible inner-student asked my why I didn't ever think to simply review the adaptations in order. Now the free-spirited writer in me answers back, "Because I didn't feel like writing them in order." I wrote them at random because at that particular moment a particular adaption moved me to write about it. The art of writing comes in its freedom. 

With that being said, I'm also slightly surprised by myself. Perhaps the 1983 should have been reviewed sooner. But no matter. It's being reviewed now, and that's all that matters at the moment. 

It's hard to believe that I was ever "new" to Jane Eyre. I'm so familiar with the novel that it seems like an inborn aspect of my being that I never had to acquire. But reminiscing on those eager early days after I read the novel, I remember the anticipation I felt when I discovered the 1983 version on Youtube. I approached the adaption shortly after having seen the '06, and the idea of "multiple adaptations" was still new to me. Feasting my eyes on '83 for the first time, I realized that it wouldn't be so easy. 

The adaption is a long one. The '06 is a two-part miniseries divided into two-hour sections. Altogether the '83 amounted to a lot more than four hours, and you definitely cannot blame this adaption for cutting out Jane's childhood and time at Lowood. These scenes mirror the book in atmosphere and dialogue, and no detail is left unshared with the audience. Every character is included down to good old Miss Temple who is cut out of most adaptations altogether. The benefit of such weight being placed on Jane's early years is that the audience feels and comprehends her growth and progression. I guess what I'm really trying to say is that the '83 was the only version that actually made Jane's eight years at Lowood really seem like eight years rather than just breezing over the first portion of her life and making the viewer believe that Lowood chewed her up and spat her out in a matter of minutes. 

After inching through the tortuous details of Jane's childhood (which was at various times rather boring, I must admit), Zelah Clarke sits behind the teaching desk of Lowood and hands spelling books to her young pupils. Jane is supposed to be merely eighteen now, but Zelah's appearance, voice, and actual age project a maturity that is much too old to present the physical authenticity of a mere teenager of Jane's inexperience. I grant that Jane's character is a naturally mature eighteen-year-old. Though she isn't necessarily acquainted with the world, she is fully educated of it, and teenagers of that age were held to a much greater standard of maturity than we in the present-day. However, even with those excuses to render, I'm also a firm believer in the idea that Jane's mental maturity should in no case be mistaken for physical maturity, and what Zelah Clarke has is most definitely the latter. 

As the adaptation evolves, however, I actually found myself warming up to Zelah's Jane. Though her age continued to irk me, there is a certain kind of reserve and austerity that Zelah infused into the character. The composure with which she conducts herself upon her first encounters with Rochester show Jane's directness and unwavering poise. The obvious sense of self-possession that Zelah's Jane contains can also easily be interpreted as wooden, however, and I often found myself forgetting that Jane was more than a serene and responsible governess. Jane is a character of outward peaceableness and inward turmoil in many cases. The youth in her is essential because it is that aspect that makes her passionate, pointed, and even rebellious at times. Zelah's Jane lacks that vigor completely. 

Opposite Zelah Clarke's rather unremarkable Jane, Timothy Dalton's Rochester atones for the failings of his co-star. The 1983 Jane Eyre is truly Rochester's show. Dalton was the perfect man for the job, providing all the fire and conflict that the adaptation's Jane lacked. He was probably one of the best Rochesters to ever grace an adaptation of the novel for the simple fact that he touched on more of Rochester's many facets than most actors before or after him were able to. Dalton is both morosely unattractive and smolderingly handsome. He finds the perfect balance between Rochester's off-putting eccentricity and mysteriously inviting attractiveness. The Rochester we find in this adaption is manipulative, aggressive, strange, passionate, and tender. In my opinion, almost no other actor encompasses the character's sharp contrasts better. 

However, in all other areas besides the adaption's Rochester, I found the 1983 extremely lacking. Yes, this is the closest possible adaptation to the book. There are minor changes in some scenes, but after seeing how faithful the miniseries is as a whole one doesn't even remember them. The dialogue is copy-pasted straight from the novel. But there is more to Jane Eyre than the lines of elegant and witty dialogue. There is a passion that exists between the lines; a chemistry that can't be created through the simple rehearsal of identical dialogue, and the truth of the matter is that Zelah and Timothy just don't have it. The minor characters such as Adele, Mrs. Fairfax, and St. John aren't even memorable in this version. The subplots to Jane and Rochester's relationship are presented with such blandness that we barely even take note of them. 

Timothy Dalton carries the weight of this adaptation entirely on his shoulders, and his performance combined with the amazing faithfulness of the adaption to the source material is enough to make this version truly enjoyable and even tear-jerking in many instances. But to call this adaptation a definitive is an impossibility. It possessed all the mechanics but none of the skill. Yet, I must hastily explain (for those who are in total disagreement with me) that I really did love it! As with most Jane Eyre adaptions, this one nearly hits the mark. It's as if the definitive is the central mark on a bullseye, and this version has barely missed it. Yet, so close of a distance appears to be so far. 

Don't understand me? I fully comprehend your feelings. I barely understand myself sometimes. But the basic idea is that this adaptation--like all the others--is subject to opinion, and in the end my opinion seems rather complex and indecisive. The only thing left for you to do is find out what yours is. 

Always love to see comments! 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Lady Disdain's Search for Jane Eyre

I can't tell you how excited I was when I opened my inbox and found Lady Disdain's guest post waiting there quietly. She is probably weary of me after I nagged her so much, but I knew that she would have something great to offer. And my instincts were correct. Lady Distain is a fellow lit lover and a faithful follower of my blog (from New Zealand!). For the past few weeks I've opened up the opportunity for my fellow lit lovers to embark on the "search for Jane Eyre" and Lady was the first to volunteer. She executed beautifully. So without further ado I will allow you to enjoy the rapture. :) Oh, and for any of you who find her particularly enjoyable, please take a little peak at her blog:

A  Lit Lover's Search for Jane Eyre

Ever since I first picked up Charlotte Bronte's most well-known novel, Jane Eyre, there has been in my head a quiet little figure. I suppose you could call it something akin to a manifestation of my conscience. She is small, but her presence cannot be doubted; she is quiet but her voice cannot be ignored. And she is forever patient. And no, despite what you think, I have not lost my marbles. Never mind that I only have a precious few left. 

Since that first Jane Eyre reading and the many re-readings since, one thing has impressed itself in my mind. Jane's underlying independence, her strong affirmations of what is right, and her unbreakable ability to hold fast to those principles on which she bases her life. I greatly admired her unflagging spirit in the face of despair; I was quietly proud of her resourcefulness; and I applauded her discipline in living a virtuous and principled life. To this day, my mind cheers every single time she finds the courage to leave Mr. Rochester - to tear herself away from the best thing she has known simply because she knows that, to not do so, is not right. Bronte created a role model of sorts for many of her readers when she created her small, but fiercely independent heroine. Jane kicks ass without raising a single finger, and that, her quiet infallibility is what most impresses itself upon me. 

However, this quiet little figure, this Jane-like mentor, who constantly resides in the back of my mind, is just that - a figure. I don't know the details. Not the tilt of her eyes. Or the shape of her lips. Nor the exact shade of hair. So, to give life to my subconscious Jane, and embark on this journey for the search for Jane with the wonderful Bonnie, I have come up with a few suggestions. 

Firstly, down the catwalk is Romola Garai:

(Whadaya know? It’s Fassbender! )

The only movie I have seen her in is Joe Wright's Atonement and the film adaptation of Dodie Smith's novel I Capture the Castle (although I didn't see the latter in its entirety). But what most struck me was Garai's ability to reveal the underplay of emotions occurring within with only subtle inflections in her expression. This to me is a very 'Jane-ian' quality. She is a very private person, keeping her thoughts locked inside, unless it is absolutely essential to reveal them. She is not the type to wear her heart on her sleeve. Mr. Rochester, despite his skills in manipulation (yes, how can you not notice? Not revealing his identity in the beginning, flirting with Blanche, even going so far as to dress up as an old gypsy woman) is unable to ever fully discern what Jane is thinking or feeling at the time. The only problem is that Garai, from what I can remember - and this might not be much - seems kind of tall (o, superficial is me). I am a firm believer of The Small Jane. I think there was a reason Bronte intended her to be - her appearance is deceptive, and is meant to hide the fire and strength that lies underneath. But with a suitably tall Rochester that should be easily fixed.

(I had to try SO hard to find a ‘plain’ picture of her.)

Second to proceed is Tallulah Riley:

Some of you might know her as the ever ambitious Mary Bennet from Joe Wright's (him again!) Pride & Prejudice. In fact, that is the only movie I have seen her in so there isn't much for me to base her acting abilities on. But from what I saw she presented a fairly accurate portrayal of Mary. To me, she is perfect in stature, and possesses that understated prettiness that I believe Jane also possesses. Plus, she can easily pull off the 'I'm still quite a young girl fresh out of Lowood' look that Rochester was so easily able to point out on that first night by the fireside. 

Next, Kat Dennings. 

(That background just screams ‘moors’ to me)

Now, I haven't seen Dennings in any film whatsoever so I'm basing this purely on superficial aspects. And ok, I know what you're thinking. Man, those lips are fuller than Homer Simpson's belly after a Thanksgiving dinner.  Well, that's what I was thinking anyway. Much too full to be Jane's. But let me point out she is wearing lip stick in this picture and, therefore, the effect is all the more emphasized. However, even without the lipstick to adorn her lips, you would have to be blinder than a bat with two glass eyeballs to miss them. For some reason, her features just struck me as something that would be suitable for Jane. Jane does describe her looks as being "irregular" so for all we know she might have had the fullest lips, perhaps too full for the rest of her facial features. Dennings lips seem to conquer the rest of her face, so I'd say her features are irregular, too. Just nicely irregular.

But, wipe the make-up off. Pull the hair back into a disciplined bun. Don a black Quakerish gown. And what do you think Ms. Dennings? I think you'd make a very presentable Jane. And that is high praise, indeed. And those eyes! It’s hard not to notice them; they seem to hold a world of stories. Especially in that first photo.

Lastly I present to you, Saiorse Roman (pronounced 'ser-sha'. Yes, I love her name, too.) 

You might know this young lady from Atonement (yes, that's where I came across her), and most recently The Lovely Bones (which I haven't been fortunate enough to see). She is a young actress, but an incredibly competent one, and according to Peter Jackson, possesses a maturity that goes far beyond her current years. And her performance in Atonement was impressive. To me, she comes closest to my image of Jane: the small face, the small chin, the way her hair pulls back from her forehead, her narrow shoulders, they all proclaim ‘Jane’ to me.

(I tried to find a picture of her being plain, and came up with this. Simply darken the hair and I think we have our Jane, yes? Look at that defiant set of the lips.)

And there we go. My most humble opinions presented to you, lit lovers. O yes, I can be as obsequious as Mr. Collins, but let's not go there. I think the ones I would most love to see play Jane are probably Romola Garai and Saiorse Roman. Simply, because I think they have the ability to portray the overwhelming passions that Jane often finds herself fighting to control in her quiet, but determined way. 
Now you may off up scorn, indifference or praise as much as you please.) Although I highly recommend the last.

-       Lady Disdain