Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

April 27, 2006


Digest of Today's Brontë News

Culled from Google News:

In Love with Love:
In a brief historicisation of the Romance novel the Brontës and Jane Austen are lumped together as 'The Gothics.' Characteristics thereof are delinated, while some interesting mental images for those who read this article too carefully provide some amusement.

From Page to Stage:
Humboldt Light Opera Company and College of the Redwoods present the musical drama Jane Eyre, April 28-May 13, at 7:30 p.m., with Sunday matinees on May 7 and 14 at 2 p.m. at the CR Forum Theater. (445-4310.)

More on the above production: A 'Gothic' Love Story. Tickets are $12 for general seating and $9 for students and seniors. (Image above is from this article).

A very odd nostalgic moment indeed, for a news article on violent crime: TODAY'S NOSTALGIA: On April 27, 1961, CBS' Family Classics aired a live production of Jane Eyre, starring Sally Ann Howes, Zachary Scott and Fritz Weaver. (*makes note to track this one down*)

Lucy Ellman's got a vulgar way of retelling Jane Eyre for her book 'Doctors and Nurses.' Read at your own risk.

Chris Rankin talks about his role as Edgar Linton in Wuthering Heights (near the end of the article): Wuthering Heights runs at The Capitol in Horsham from Thursday May 4 to Saturday May 6 at 7.30pm (plus Saturday matin?e, 2.30pm). Tickets start from £15 (concessions available). For more information, call the box office on 01403 750220 or visit the website at

From an article on a play based on Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451:
Here’s Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights,” and there’s Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” – and is that Aristotle? The Book People have memorized books by heart with the hope of restoring them once out of these dangerous times.

Now how many out there think they could manage memorising one of the Brontë novels? Let me rephrase that… How many of you have memorised them?

And, a remarkably short yet informative life of Emily Brontë from the Navhind Times, India.

April 19, 2006


Filed under: Articles,BBC,Films,Interviews,Jane Eyre,Jane Eyre (BBC 2006),Media,Productions,TV — by bronteana @ 1:10 pm

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – a new drama adaptation for BBC ONE

From the BBC Press Office (Thanks to Alison for the tip!):

Newcomer Ruth Wilson (Jane Eyre) and Toby Stephens (Edward Rochester) head up an all-star cast in a passionate new version of the much-adored classic Jane Eyre for BBC ONE.The four-part serial also stars Francesca Annis as Lady Ingram, Christina Cole as Blanche Ingram, Lorraine Ashbourne as Mrs Fairfax, Pam Ferris as Grace Poole and Tara Fitzgerald as Mrs Reed.

Georgie Henley, who recently starred in the Christmas blockbuster The Chronicles of Narnia plays young Jane while Aidan McArdle plays the visionary John Eshton. The drama is currently filming entirely on location in Derbyshire.

Jane Tranter, BBC Controller of Drama Commissioning says: "Sandy Welch's wonderful version of Jane Eyre for BBC ONE will add that special ingredient to the mix of dramas due for transmission this autumn, which includes the new series of Robin Hood; Lizzie Mickery and Dan Percival's conspiracy thriller, State Within; Sally Wainwright's heart-warming series The Amazing Mrs Pritchard plus Russell T Davies's Torchwood for BBC THREE."

The sustainability and appeal of Jane Eyre lies in her universality and the audience's appetite for a well-told romantic tale.

Orphaned at a young age, Jane (Ruth Wilson) is placed with her wealthy aunt Mrs Reed (Tara Fitzgerald) who neglects Jane in favour of her own three spoiled children.

Mrs Reed's spitefulness leads her to withhold news that could change Jane's life for the better.

Instead she brands her a liar and sends Jane to Lowood School where she remains until the age of 19.

When she finally leaves the dark memories of Lowood behind, she embarks on a career as a governess and her first position is at Thornfield Hall, the home of the alluring and unpredictable Edward Rochester.

Jane's journey into the world and as a woman begins.

Producer Diederick Santer adds: "In her brand new adaptation of Jane Eyre, Sandy Welch has mined Bronte's novel for every ounce of passion, drama, colour, madness and horror available, bringing to life Jane's inner world with beauty, humour and at times great sadness.

"The locations we have chosen are stormy and majestic and I hope that Sandy's original take on the story will be enjoyed as much by long-term fans of the book as by those who have never read it."

Filming is underway until June at the historical medieval castle Haddon Hall, owned by Lord Edward Manners, and other locations across Derbyshire.

Jane Eyre is adapted by Sandy Welch (North and South, Magnificent Seven), directed by Susanna White (Bleak House) and the Executive Producer is Phillippa Giles.

The 'visionary John Eshton'?? What on earth can that mean? Humour, humour is good! Yes, I certainly cannot wait to see this. Also, as previously reported, it is confirmed for autumn not December, which is more good news!

March 23, 2006


BBC Jane Eyre 2006

Now has it's own page on the Internet Movie Database. There is nothing there at all- just the title, date, and that it will be produced by the BBC. Nothing new, therefore, but news might break there in the near future. Also, somewhat new, I have a report from Yorkshire than filming began two weeks ago outside of the reporter's village. Correction, there is one bit of news- if the page is to be trusted, Jane Eyre 2006 will be a mini-series.

On a lighter note, I've been thinking how odd it is that we have no interviews with Ruth Wilson yet, but we have two descriptions of Toby Stephens' sideburns, grown especially for Jane Eyre. I wonder if he will merit a write up in Chops Quarterly.

CQ is an internet blog with no posts whatsoever, but a fabulous mandate to celebrate sideburns of all shapes and sizes. Although they haven't been updated much, especially when they were founded in 1854 and there still aren't any posts (well, to be fair, there wasn't an internet then either), I have already learned so much about sideburns! For instance, I always assumed that any long, wooly sideburn was a 'mutton chop' but this is not so! Mutton chop refers to having two long sideburns joined via a moustache.

Charlotte's husband, Arthur Bell Nicholls also had fine chops:

March 4, 2006


Filed under: Articles,Blogs,Criticism,Jane Eyre,Uncategorized,Wuthering Heights — by bronteana @ 5:12 pm

"Who am I"?: The many faces of women's identity in Victorian Literature.

This a really interesting excerpt from an essay by Bronteana reader, and fellow Bronte-scholarling, mysticgypsy. She compares several answers to the question 'who am I' as a woman in Victorian literature, two of which are from Bronte heroines:

I am my beloved: Catherine Linton (Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights)For Catherine, who she is as an individual depends on how much she is a part of her soulmate, Heathcliff. As long as she was free to be with Heathcliff, she could be herself, but the moment she goes against her nature, i.e. try to "better" her self by marrying Linton, and thereby breaking her relationship with Heathcliff, she loses a part of herself. After her marriage to Linton, Cathy takes on another persona. She is no longer the girl who would roam wild and free in the moors. Instead, she is confined to the suffocating gradure and Victorian sense of propriety in Thruschcross Grange. Cathy even acknowledges to Nelly that she and Heathcliff were one when she says "I am Heathcliff". Hence, in this case, the woman takes the identity of her beloved.

I am his equal: Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre)For Jane, her identity as an intelligent, independent woman is resolved through ties with Edward Rochester, her imposing employer and master of Thornfield. Although Jane does seek her own independence (and thereby her identity as a single woman), in the end, she finds she does need Rochester to be complete. Firstly, there is the telepathic relationship that she shared with Rochester, which I believe was a strong indicator (from the author) that as long as that supernatural connection was there between Jane and Rochester, they could not be entirely happy without each other. They needed each other to be whole because they were "equals" and complemented each other. Jane needed Rochester during moments of her insecurity (when Rochester was more controlling of her), and by the end of the story Rochester needed Jane when he was (phsycially) found wanting (thus Jane controls Rochester). This kind of relationship is differnet from that of Cathy and Heathcliff in that this is a relationship of equals, where only each will do for the other, but each keeps their own identies. Jane is NOT Rochester in the manner as Cathy affirms she IS Heathcliff.

The rest of the post (although not the rest of the essay) can be found here.

February 23, 2006


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 such as the Broadway Cast, and the Royal Shakespeare CompanyRevival/London recordings.

January 2, 2006


Filed under: Articles,Criticism,Jane Eyre — by bronteana @ 6:40 pm

Some Things to Consider, I hope!

This article formed the preface to the 1988 Penguin edition of Jane Eyre. In many ways insightful, but in places slipping strangely into uncertain territory. As I read along, the first thing to grab my attention was a mention of 'Lord Rochester'. This is not, in fact, Lord Rochester- John Wilmot, but Mr Rochester gratuitiously elevated to the nobility. I have read much Bronte criticism, and it surprises me how often little slips like this occur. I am sure my professors would object to such things as creating entire plot points but I have seen that as well as imagined characters. I do not recall which article it was, but in one article about Mr Rochester (I think it was) I learned that there was damning evidence that Jane had been merely a tool for Mr Rochester (and patriarchy) all along for her first action in their relationship is to mail a letter for him. She is in fact mailing a letter for Mrs Fairfax when she meets Mr Rochester- and she volunteers to take it, in fact.

A wonderful professor of mine insisted that we must not only set up citations but thoroughly explain them to make best use of the evidence. Maybe this is what is lacking in this paragraph which deals with the Byronic 'dangerousness' of Mr Rochester:

Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights is more clearly an adult's rendering of incestuous childhood obsession than are any of Charlotte Brontë's novels, but the romantically dangerous Rochester is most likely a remnant of the children's sensational world, the poetic antithesis of all that was dull, dreary, routine, and circumscribed in the world of Haworth Parsonage. Here is Jane's first vision of the man she will adore: Something of daylight still lingered, and the moon was waxing bright; I could see him plainly. His figure was enveloped in a riding cloak, fur collared and steel clasped; its details were not apparent, but I traced the general points of middle height, and considerable breadth of chest. He had a dark face, with stern features and a heavy brow; his eyes and gathered eyebrows looked ireful and thwarted . . .; he was past youth, but had nor reached middle age. Like Emily's Heathcliff, that Byronic, doomed hero; yet unlike Heathcliff—who after all starves himself to death in his deranged attachment to the past—since, by the novel's end, after he goes blind, Rochester does become domesticated. The Gothic has become tamed, and redeemed, by ordinary marital love. However unlikely for Brontë's time, or for ours, Jane Eyre ends upon a note of conjugal bliss: I am my husband's life as fully as he is mine. No woman was ever nearer to her mate than I am: ever more absolutely bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. I know no weariness of my Edward's society: he knows none of mine, any more than we each do of the pulsation of the heart that beats in our separate bosoms; consequently, we are ever together…. We talk, I believe, all day long: to talk to each other is but a more animated and an audible thinking. The orphan Jane is no longer "resisting all the way"; no longer, at this point, required to be Jane. The novel's passionate energies consume themselves as the apocalyptic fire at Thornfield consumes unregenerate Bertha.

Firstly, I have no idea what she means by Emily's 'incestuous Childhood obsession.' If anyone would like to speculate on this, feel free by all means (as always)! But let's look at this quote carefully. This 'first vision' is of a late man in a cloak, average in height, deep of chest, and angry. the cloak can't be important- it's wintertime. The physical description doesn't say much about his character, and his 'ire' and 'thwarted' look should be understandible considering that he just sprained his ankle falling from a horse! I'd like to suggest that it's quite a leap from this to pronouncing him 'byronic and doomed' and 'like Heathcliff'. As for the second quote, I wonder why Jane would have to resist herself? For, as she says elsewhere, she is 'indulging her sweetest desires'. How is she 'not being Jane'? She nowhere says that she has changed her thoughts or conversation to suit Mr Rochester- they happen to harmonise with one another. The image of their heart beats is not one of submission of one to the other- each is separate and yet familiar enough to be inextricable. Also, there are more than a few readers who would say the 'passionate energies' are by no means burned off with Bertha. That is granting far too much symbolism to Bertha- she is not the focus of eroticism that she is often made out to be.

And in a paragraph presumably about the 'increasing melodrama' of the work, after she discusses Mr Mason (who is not at all melodramatic, as the quote she uses illustrates) she moves on to Bertha:

When, later, Jane is brought into Bertha Mason's presence and mockingly introduced to Rochester's wife, she is naturally revulsed—she feels no kinship with this creature. And though Jane charges Rochester with cruelty in so despising and exhibiting his mad wife, claiming that Bertha cannot help her condition, Jane cannot really identify with the woman; and rather too readily forgives Rochester his curious (and ungentlemanly) behavior.

I have read this scene very many times and I have never detected mockery. Rochester speaks ironically, but not mockinging and these are two different things. he does not believe that Bertha is his wife in any other than a nominal sense. Otherwise, I fail to see where this comes from. And why can Jane not identify with Bertha? Why does she reproach Rochester, then- when throughout the novel she has been anxious for him to get rid of her for his own safety (in the figure of Grace Poole)? She has changed her position, apparently but the article does not acknowledge this. She does feel at least enough 'kinship' to refer to her as a 'poor woman' and not a monster or a beast any longer. In addition, she says nothing about Rochester's 'exhibiting' his wife. He has not been 'exhibiting her'- she has been concealed for ten years. He wishes now that his secret is known, to have it known completely.

I write on this article mostly because this following paragraph touches on a nerve I have. It is regarding the 'Whitcross' section of the novel. It begins:

Numerous readers have felt that the long Whitcross section, consisting as it does of nearly one hundred pages, is an awkward digression in Jane Eyre; and one is nudged to recall that the publishing firm of Smith, Elder had rejected Charlotte Brontë's earlier novel, The Professor, as "undersized." (But if Currer Bell would write a full-scale, three-volume novel for them, they would be "most interested.") Still, the carefully transcribed section is required for symmetry's sake. Brontë's authorial strategy is to balance one kind of temptation with its obverse (if Rochester is all romantic passion, urging her to succumb to emotional excess, St. John Rivers is all Christian ambition, urging her to attempt a spiritual asceticism of which she knows herself incapable).

There is a startling tendency to view this part of the book as the artcle describes, and I think it is completely groundless. All I will conceed is that it is evident that Charlotte is playing with the Gothic convention of the two men- one dark and dangerous, one fair and virtuous. It is one of the most vital sections of the work- not an 'awkward digression.' It would take far too long for me to outline my reasons, here but I hope to use one example to at least challenge this perspective. There is a point at which St.John attacks Jane's feelings for Mr Rochester, claiming that the 'tie' she cherishes is unlawful but also that she is being selfish and will live obscure if she persists in it. It is only one brief statement he drops, and yet very profound for at the end of the novel there are two things that I am sure no one would seriously dismiss. Jane is 'living with and for' what she 'best loves on Earth' (Mr Rochester), living 'for' him unselfishly when she could live contentedly and selfishly with someone more conventionally eligible or on her own. But more importantly, instead of dying nameless in India, an anonymous female missionary following the program not her own, she has written her autobiography, claimed her life and sealed her name to it- the very opposite of 'living obscure'!

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