Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

October 10, 2005

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Monsieur Heger sighting?

As I updated my blog, looking at the image from the UMaryland production of the Jane Eyre musical, a had a vague sense that I had seen this all somewhere before. It didn't really have time to bother me before I realised what was so familiar about the actor playing Mr Rochester- he looks like Constantin Heger. No really. See?

That's M. Constantin Heger on the left, and James Gardiner on the right (from the photo by Stan Barouh). The image on the left is a detail from a large photocopy a friend sent me of a portrait of the Heger family. M.Heger was Charlotte Brontë's teacher while she was studying abroad in Belgium at the Pensionnat Heger. It's my understanding that she based much of Mr Rochester's character on monsieur. They certainly both have a penchant for cigars and bonbons at any rate 😉 And it goes without saying that he is the model for the fabulous Paul Carlos Emmanuel, of Villette. I've always wanted to know more about him, but the books I have on hand have been printed in the 1890s and it looks like there had been some censorship going on. Over and over again it is asserted that Charlotte was never in love with the married Heger, but obviously many believed this was so. What the current evidence for either case is, I don't know not having any more recent works for comparison!

The 1970s Yorkshire TV mini-series The Brontes of Haworth certainly asserts that she was in love with Heger. So my guess is that the letters she wrote to him have been widely published, and I just haven't come in contact with them yet.

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5 Comments »

  1. In Lucasta Miller’s “The Brontë Myth” it can be found a little bit the chronology of the discovery (by we can say.. the public audience) of Charlotte’s letters to M. Héger. “It occurred on 29 July, 1913, when The Times printed four letters she had written in 1844-45 to her Belgian teacher, Constantin Héger. The publication caused a storm of controversy”.

    Comment by M (from BronteBlog) — October 11, 2005 @ 1:53 pm |Reply

  2. In Lucasta Miller’s “The Brontë Myth” it can be found a little bit the chronology of the discovery (by we can say.. the public audience) of Charlotte’s letters to M. Héger. “It occurred on 29 July, 1913, when The Times printed four letters she had written in 1844-45 to her Belgian teacher, Constantin Héger. The publication caused a storm of controversy”.

    Comment by M (from BronteBlog) — October 11, 2005 @ 1:53 pm |Reply

  3. Thanks M! I just returned from the university. While I was there I had a few extra moments, so I cleaned out some of the books they had on the Brontës 😉 I didn’t pick up Miller’s book but I have heard of it. I did sign out Baker’s ‘The Brontës’ though. I don’t recall seeing the letters in my copy of Clement Shorter’s book but perhaps I overlooked them somehow.

    Comment by Brontëana — October 11, 2005 @ 7:12 pm |Reply

  4. Hi,
    I’m a 40 years old woman, married and with children. I work as nurse, part-time, so I can use the time to take care of the house and kids and it goes pretty good like this. During the endless spent in my house there is something that i prefer to do in the meantime that is watching tennis on my satellite . I also love to see comedies. I don’t dislikesometime to look out of my windows either.
    I am enough sadisfied with my life and overall about my children. I just hope to remain in good health, so just an normal happy life.
    Bye Bye
    Judith

    Comment by sweetjessyfc — July 5, 2007 @ 1:49 pm |Reply

  5. I have a theory that some of the dialogue between Jane and Rochester, especially before the declaration of love, really happened between Heger and Charlotte Bronte. A lonely young woman such as herself would have responded to the probing questions and veiled hints of deeper emotions. He may have only been flirting with her, but it is evident that he wasn’t expecting her to react so strongly. Jane’s cri de coeur to Rochester may well have been Charlotte’s own. I need to become for familiar with Villette and explore my theory further.

    Comment by mockingbirdhillmom — August 26, 2012 @ 4:20 pm |Reply


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