Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

February 23, 2006

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Filed under: Academic,Articles,Books,Intertexts,Jane Eyre,Uncategorized,Wuthering Heights — by bronteana @ 2:05 pm

'Wuthering Heights for Children: Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden'


Today I came across this interesting article, hosted by the Universität Tübingen seeking to draw comparisons between The Secret Garden and Wuthering Heights. When I read The Secret Garden for a course on Children's Literature, I did not pick up on most of its resonances with Wuthering Heights, possibly because the influence of Jane Eyre seemed to be closer to the surface, and it seems that other readers have been similarly inclined:


As they had on other impressionable young girls, the romances of the sisters Brontë had a tremendous impact on Burnett. As one of her biographers noted: “Principal themes in the fiction of Frances Hodgson Burnett were forecast in seven books published within two years of her birth . . . (and) the authors of these works would be among the most important in shaping her fiction—[these included] Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847), Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847), and Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield (1849-50) . . . .” Born during Charlotte Brontë’s lifetime to parents keenly aware of the contemporary literary scene, daughter of father who may have been related to one of Patrick Brontë’s curates, young Frances spent the first fifteen years of her life less than thirty miles from Haworth reading romances. More than one scholar has identified and described “the echoes of Jane Eyre in The Secret Garden” but the contribution of Wuthering Heights has been less recognized.


Susan E. James draws comparisons here between Wuthering Heights and The Secret Garden.

Since I will not get another opportunity to point this out, The Secret Garden (from 1991) happens to be one of the two musicals constantly compared with Jane Eyre: The Musical (the other musical is Les Miserables). Two recordings are available on amazon.com- such as the Broadway Cast, and the Royal Shakespeare CompanyRevival/London recordings.

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 1:15 am

Update on UK Release for Jane Eyre (BBC 1973)


Thanks to Thisbeciel, we have another link to websites where our friends in the UK will be able to order their copies of Jane Eyre with Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston. From this site we have the exact release date of June 5th. The synopsis is a little quirky…

Starring Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston, this 1973 BBC television adaptation of the classic novel follows the fortunes of the heroine Jane Eyre who begins her life as an orphan without a penny to her name. After a dreadful childhood Jane Eyre acquires the post of Governess at Thornfield Hall. Once there she finds herself falling in love with the mysterious owner of Thornfield, Mr Rochester. Jane watches Rochester flirt with the beautiful and eligible Blanche Ingram and unable to bear their romance any longer, Jane resigns. Only then does Rochester admit that he loves Jane and asks her to marry him. But Jane’s happiness proves to be shortlived…

Pardon? I don’t remember the scene when she resigns!

ETA: I am still unable to read British dates, obviously. We put the month first in Canada… the release date is June 5th, not May 6th. I’m also too eager to see this, and a little bit of wishful thinking might have contributed to the error.

February 21, 2006

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 8:13 pm

Face to Face with Charlotte Bronte at the Parsonage

The Bronte Parsonage E-Magazine Blog has posted this great article by Diane Benn about a current exhibit at the Parsonage Museum called Face to Face with Charlotte Bronte. Among other things, there is this image of Charlotte only recently acquired by the museum. I remember when it was purchased among other items of the Brontes. If I remember correctly, it was supposedly drawn while Charlotte was in Belgium, but I cannot say for certain. It is wonderful to see what restorers are able to do with such material. I saved an image of the portrait from when it was posted on the auction website (where it was shown next to other portraits of Charlotte):

Other news from the Parsonage Blog, the Bronte Society is organising their spring walk (route and contact information here), DNA tests may soon be performed on hair samples from the Brontes (more on this here). A film about Charlotte at Hathersage may also be in the works, and there’s a new Bronte Society fanzine for children- ‘Genius!’

February 20, 2006

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 7:12 pm

Jane Eyre The Musical Video Clips Encore

Back by popular demand, here are a few clips generated by Thisbeciel and this time brought to you by the lady Branwen- our royal patroness. Her magesty has managed to find more clips than I remember posting here, or perhaps this site has grown so large even I don’t know what is hiding in the archives anymore. The first series are from a production on Broadway in April of 2001 (I believe), very near to the show’s closing (which was in June if I remember correctly). The rest are from assorted publicity material- I have not actually had the time to view all of them.

An Icy Lane: http://s65.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=3IHTI0VT38HPA1OUG7OY7GX988

You Examine Me, Miss Eyre: http://s65.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=2TN9T5VXR7LMV3585TADXUOUZ8

Waking Rochester: http://s65.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=1P3QUWFTRSQUB0JE465AJ6W6QO

Saying Goodbye: http://s62.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=2GBORQF0B1WYJ1A1WXT7DLCC5J

I Know Who Heals My Life: http://s64.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=2PL4A8O3K3QZQ0RQ8NF7095RTA

The Gypsy: http://s62.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=20OS9TXILLVYI0GSTKAKHLFHQR

The Proposal: http://s62.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=07UN01ML5FESA37T3M2RQ4TKJ5

Wild Boy/Sirens reprise/Farewell, Good Angel: http://s62.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=37P0PAGAE5TQR0FJ7XJG83ZDQG

Secret Soul in the studio: http://s57.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=2I14DF3SRYFOW1A10BJ68BPUXL

Jane Promo Clips: http://s57.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=3JQPH283MZS4F07S9KLE5KKT56

Broadway on Broadway Secret Soul Clips: http://s57.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=3MTTI7SVJBCGH2MZHYXAQDRFIS

ETA: These will be available for the next week, or for 30 downloads whichever comes first. Also, I may not be posting often between now and Friday. We are in the middle of midterm season which means I have exams of my own, as well as teaching assistant duties to attend to, and on top of this I have some seminars to write!

February 18, 2006

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 2:54 pm

Livejournal Brontëana Feed and Some Notes

Ladyshrew has kindly created an LJ feed for Brontëana so now any Livejournal user can simply add the feed to their friends list and view Brontëana posts with greater ease. I have no idea how to set these up- I’m trying to make one for the Brontë Parsonage E-Magazine Blog but so far I have had no success whatsoever.

To add the Brontëana LJ feed simply sign into your account, then visit this link. The feed has not yet become active at the time of this posting but apparently this usually takes some time.

Mythosidhe also created one for BrontëBlog. Users can add this feed from this link.

Now for the notes section of this post. I am still trying to catch up on mail and other work from this week. I ask that anyone awaiting a reply be patient.

Also, when blogger emails comments to me they do not specify which post they come from and since I’ve been blogging for nearly a year now I have no idea which post the comment is referring to. If Heather is reading this, I recieved your comment that some of the links had expired. Reposting most links isn’t a problem, but it would be helpful to email me at bronteana.blog@gmail.com . I try to read through and respond to all of the comments although I do miss them sometimes. Recent posts are not a problem but replies to earlier posts can become disconnected.

ETA: Thanks to Mythosidhe we now have a link for the Brontë Parsonage Blog too. Also, it didn’t take long for the feed to kick in- the Brontëana feed is now active.

ETA: I’m now working on ways to include a ‘cut’ for LJ. I don’t think this is possible, but I’m going to experiment with this.

February 16, 2006

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 1:22 pm

Jane Eyre(Erie Playhouse) 1998

Book by David Matthews, music by Michael Malthaner, lyrics by Charles Corritore. (The picture to the right is from Voices in which Jane hears Rochester calling to her). Interesting doesn’t quite cover this …4th… 5th? Jane Eyre Musical. I listened to it for the first time yesterday. I had been eager waiting to hear this one because it is actually based on the Gordon/Caird musical. According to Lillie who shared it with me someone- the composer?- saw the musical in Toronto during its very early, very brief run and felt he could do better. I am not disappointed. There are several points where the work is clearly influenced by the Gordon/Caird show. The show as a whole, however, fails to be entertaining or on key…

I can tell that the lyricist, at least, had read the novel because one of the songs includes two more details not found in the Gordon/Caird version but otherwise it feels like the creators used a study guide instead. It sounds like a musicalised study guide which doesn’t actually include many of the themes, characters, or plot elements from the novel. But it is interesting, and tolerable in places. Some of the tunes are not all that objectionable either. The full cast list and other information is available here. If you are interested in producing the work, the main page including information on obtaining a perusal script is here. Plot synopsis and pictures here.

I have noted a few of the interesting points, to share for the moment. This work has a series of songs called Soliloques. These correspond to the songs As I Retired For The Night, and Secret Soul from the early G/C show. I cannot make out all of the words on the recording I have from the Royal Alexandra in Toronto which would correspond to Soliloques I, so I have chosen to compare Soliloques II with Secret Soul:

Secret Soul (Royal Alexandra JE)

Jane: What can I do now, my precious Lord?
His dark love would be my best reward.
I know I should not dare to go deeper in his madness
But it’s like a field I must run through
No one’s words will make me love him less.
How much can I stand? I dare not guess.
The secret voice that speaks to me
Tells me he’s in danger looking to the dust for tenderness.
Deep in my secret soul I stand alone
The purpose of why I’m here is still unknown.
In the darkness of his day he’s nearly blind
but I keep looking for his goodness afraid of what I’ll find.
My heart moves through his unquiet sea.
I pray a wave will come and carry me
Closer to his troubled tide, waters of his fury,
But how can I swim this great divide?

Jane: Deep in my secret soul Rochester: My secret soul
I cry his tears. Cries out loud!
I weather his angry voice This angry voice
I feel his fears. Cries out!

Both: His/her life has infected every wound and every pore
I feel this mystery possess me and I pray that mercy’s hand will bless me!

Jane: Deep in his secret soul…
Rochester: Deep in my secret soul…
Jane: His heart is cursed.
Rochester: My heart is cursed!
Jane: I summon my deepest will to still his thirst!
Rochester: And I pray that God-
Both: God give me the strength to go
deep within his/my secret soul!

Soliloques II (Erie Playhouse JE) Possibly after the fire scene.

Rochester: Just when I thought my life was changing
just as she rescued my soul.
Giving me hope of one day finding
happiness lost long ago.
Now must I once again bury these thoughts again,
helplessly watching her leave?
When will she know how much I need her?
How can I make her believe?

Jane: What does it mean? Why did he kiss me?
Why did he speak that way?
Did I imagine hearing the things I heard him say?
How can I know the answers if now my duty lies
far far away from Thornfield and the kindness in his eyes.

Both: No matter what’s there for me where this road my bend
I face it now willingly- this long journey’s end.
No matter how long it takes I’ll wait for his/her song.
Once more to have a life, once more to live my life, once more to share my life!

Jane: And finally belong!

Rochester: Once more to have a life, once more to share my life!

Both: And finally belong!

February 14, 2006

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Filed under: Bronteana,Criticism,Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 9:28 am

Valentine's Day -When the thoughts writers turn to the Brontës

I am still unwell, and read Joyce last night before bed which isn't good either (often when I read before going to bed I have very interesting dreams related to the material. When I studied Suetonius there were a lot of very strange dreams. This time I dreamt about language).

Today is St. Valentine's Day, and the internet is buzzing with references to the Brontës. Novels are being recomended as gifts for the beloved, the stories are turned over for various reasons- sometimes to question whether such relationships exist in 'the real world', and sometimes to wonder what makes these stories so moving. For example, from The Hindu, Radha Nair, a retired English professor mentions Wuthering Heights:

"Heathcliff and Catherine are the opposites and such strong individuals. They had to give each other up and that there was no fulfilment adds to the aura."

But there are some articles which take a more unique approach to the day. This one discusses literary love, comparing Latin and 'American' writings (which apparently include Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë):

For latin writers, the language of love comes naturally

The best lines, says Lynne Barrett of FIU, "are often of rejection or renunciation … Often when one is declarative, there is a larger problem. In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy says to Elizabeth: `My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.' He then blurts out his struggle against loving her because of her `low connections,' vulgar sisters and silly mother, so by the end of his proposal she furiously rejects him."

Or Jane Eyre's Mr. Rochester: `Come to me — come to me entirely now,' said he. `Make my happiness — I will make yours.'"

But he's a man with a wife locked up in the attic.

Perhaps I'm still not clear headed but does this actually make sense to anyone? Declarative sentences reveal what sort of larger problem? A lot of characters use declarative sentences but don't have wives locked in their attics! I cannot help but think that the Latin authors probably use declaratives as well, and that I can think of more expressive lines in Jane Eyre that would stand on equal footing with those of the Latins (sadly, when I read the title of the article, I thought about Ovid…).

February 13, 2006

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 6:53 pm

From ‘Vision, Flame, and Flight: Adapting Jane Eyre for the Stage’ – By John Caird

I have been rather quiet. I was bedridden yesterday and still feel unwell. But I have a new reason to keep my faculties together- Harlene has sent me several fascinating items on the Jane Eyre Musical, one of these is ‘Vision, Flame, and Flight: Adapting Jane Eyre for the Stage’ written by John Caird, the lyricist for the show. Here are a few excerpts:

An attic is a potent metaphor. If a house is a metaphor for a human life, then the attic is the mind where all the secrets reside. In this respect Thornfield is the ultimate example of such a metaphor, representing as it does the life and status and history of Rochester and all the centuries of Rochesters before him. Hidden in the attic is the awful reality of a tragic life but also a metaphor for the lies and deceit that haunt Rochester’s mind, making him incapable of honouring his love for Jane without perjuring himself into the bargain. Jane too has her secrets and her terrors – lies she has told herself about her unworthiness, her plainness and her lack of grace – all of which must be overcome before she is able to live for Rochester as she would live for herself, with absolute openness and integrity. One of the most evocative moments in our adaptation is when the secrets and lies in Rochester’s life collide with the secrets and lies in Jane’s, as the two brides stare at each other across the darkened attic and across the years with a mutual mixture of the most painful reproach and the deepest understanding.

Another major difference in story-telling technique between the novel and our adaptation is the way that Rochester is treated. Because Bronte chose to write using an autobiographical narrative device, the reader must never know more than Jane herself knows. So Rochester and his motives must remain obscure until the novel is half over. The reader may suspect that all is not right but not so much that Jane would seem to be stupid not to suspect anything herself. In a sense the reader becomes Jane, and Rochester’s actions are every bit as obscured both reader and heroine. In the theatre this trick is all but impossible to pull off, and in any case not really desirable. A director or book-writer cannot instruct the actor playing Rochester that he must play everything as a mystery to Jane. Playing the part of an enigma would soon become tedious for the actor and audience alike. The actor needs to know what Rochester is to himself to his audience with whom he has as strong a relationship as the actress playing the part of Jane. For their part the audience is not looking at Rochester through Jane’s eyes – it is looking at the man himself without the aid of an interpreter. Paul and I decided therefore that we had to reveal Rochester’s deep feelings for Jane, at least before the intermission falls, or he would risk losing so much sympathy with the audience that they would never forgive their heroine for wanting to marry him! Achieving this dramatic end without giving away the central secret of the story was perhaps the most delicate task of the whole adaptation.

This stripping away of the mystery around Rochester also allowed us to examine more closely one of the story’s most elusive themes – that of vision. At the beginning of the story, Jane has nothing. As we have Miss Scatcherd saying just before she leaves the school – she is ‘a girl with no money, no talents, no beauty and no class’. But without material possessions or prospects of any sort, she still has one significant talent, in spite of Miss Scatcherd’s mean portrait. Jane has her insight or moral vision, strong in her from childhood but greatly strengthened by her friendship with Helen Burns. So a young woman with nothing but insight travels across the moors to her first job and there she meets and falls in love with a man who has everything – everything that is except insight. His class, his status, his family and his history are all powerfully represented by the chestnut tree, growing proudly in the gardens of the house. But Rochester, materially rich and astonishingly enlightened about so much, is morally blind. Of course the greatest irony in the story is that he has to become actually blind before he is worthy of Jane’s love for him. The agency of his blindness is the fire – the first that in other parts of the story has illuminated and warmed and now returns to destroy and purge. Thus at the end of the story all the metaphors are powerfully linked together – blindness, the house and the fire – to provide a single potent dramatic image, the young woman of vision becoming the eyes and hands for her blind lover as they sit together under the stricken chestnut tree in the shadow of the burnt out house that was their home. As Paul’s lyrics put it ‘the secret of the flame is that there is no more to hide. It cures our blindness and our pride’.

February 11, 2006

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 10:00 pm

Brontëana Mail: Sezione Italiana

I would like to thank Raffaella from Milano, Italy for writing in the other day. I had forgotten to include the link to the Italian chapter of the Brontë Society. I first heard of their webpage through The Brontë Parsonage E-Magazine Blog, but somehow didn’t make a proper post about it. Here is my belated tribute to Brontë Society- Sezione Italiana!

Unfortunately I cannot read Italian well enough to make full use of the site, but having learned Latin is proving helpful. This page is especially interesting for me. It is about film adaptations of the Brontë novels and includes several I had never come across before. I did not know, for instance that the Frank Hall Crane productions of Jane Eyre from the 1920s were two parts of the same production, or that there was an Italian production made in 1957.

The link for the Italian Brontë Society is now available on the links list to the left. Reader comments, and questions are always welcome either as comments to the posts themselves or as emails addressed to: bronteana.blog@gmail.com

February 10, 2006

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Filed under: BBC,Films,Jane Eyre,Jane Eyre (BBC 2006),Media,Productions,TV — by bronteana @ 7:15 pm

We Have Our New Jane!

And it isn't Kiera Knightley or Angelina Jolie! Huzzah! In fact, she's just graduated from drama school. All the better!

This just in over the wire (scroll to the bottom of the article):

A young actress, barely out of drama school, has just landed the title role in a major new BBC TV production of Jane Eyre.

The Bronte classic will star Ruth Wilson, a graduate of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

Miss Wilson has a small part in Five's forthcoming comedy series Suburban Housewives, but it's Jane Eyre that will propel her to stardom.

Shooting begins at the end of the month on the South Yorkshire Moors and London.
But director Susanna White has yet to find an actor to play the dark, brooding Mr Rochester, the secretive landowner whom Jane loves.


This is a little amusing to me because one of the songs I was listening to was called 'Miss Wilson' from the York/Williams Jane Eyre musical- in which the guests at Thornfield 'quiz' Jane and call her 'Miss Wilson'!

ETA: Photo and CV of Miss Wilson courtesy of Thisbeciel. And we have a request from several Bronteans that this man, Richar Armitage, play Mr Rochester.

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