Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

September 13, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 6:08 am

Website for Jane Eyre 2006

The BBC’s website for Jane Eyre is finally up and running!
There’s a photo gallery, wall paper downloads, episode synopsis, producer’s diary, and behind the scenes pictures! Enjoy! And thanks to Bronteana reader Caitlen for the tip!

ETA: Tonight, on _____Shire News, Mr Rochester has accident in Hay Lane! We go there live to the press conference!

“Yeah, she was just standing there by the stile. No, I didn’t pay any attention to her at first. One question at a time, please!”

September 12, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 7:57 am

Jane Eyre a Sexist and Racist Book?

From this article about books on the AP reading lists in Britain comes a surprising charge of racsim and sexism against Jane Eyre. It is not that we have not seen such claims before but they were never elicited by so slight a stimulus.

I was especially surprised by the charge of anti-semitism. During one of their bantering sessions Jane asks the ‘favour’ of having her curiosity gratified. Rochester bristles at this, and remarks that he would prefer she requested half of his estate. “Do you think I am a Jew-usurer, seeking good investment in land?” Jane says. The writer of this article infers that Jane is ‘insulted’ when she says this and cites this as proof of the novel’s anti-semitism. The context of the quotation has been a little trimmed in the article. The passage in the novel reads: ‘Now King Ahasuerus! What do I want with half your estate? Do you think I am a Jew-usurer, seeking good investment in land?’ A footnote here explains that this is an allusion of Esther 7 in which the Persian King Ahasuerus offered to fulfill the Esther’s every wish ‘even to half of the kingdom.’ Her request is that he spare her people because his adversary was the usurer Haman. This is not the dropping of a malicious stereotype but an allusion to Jewish history, where she is defining herself as Esther to his Ahasuerus (and possibly casting Blanche Ingram as Haman).

The sexism of the book is contained in this charge: Jane Eyre, the purported feminist hero, cannot possibly imagine finding happiness outside the service of her love and master. The easy answer is to re-read the book. She was perfectly capable of imagining herself as an independent schoolmistress when Rochester asks if she has no secret hope (read looking for happiness in love). She prospers in her Morton school, and when St.John Rivers reprimands her repeatedly for being too happy she declares that she has just cause to, and will be happy and ‘as contented as a queen.’ To imagine that losing someone she loves deeply is something to deplore is inexplicable to me. There is no detailed explaination of why she believes Jane is so dependent so I cannot carry this further, but discussion as always is most welcome in the comments.

September 11, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 8:38 pm

Video Clips from Jane Eyre The Musical in La Jolla, California

Well, there seems to be no end to surprises! Many thanks to Alayna for posting these clips n youtube. Here is The Gypsy and The Proposal from the musical’s pre-Broadway run. Starring James Barbour as Mr Rochester and Marla Schaffel as Jane Eyre. The Proposal clip is especially interesting because you can clearly see many of the mechanisms which created the wonderful, ground breaking effects of the Broadway production including the stage’s multiple rotating sections, the use of scrims, etc. Also, the tree- the elusive Chestnut tree is very clear as well.

ETA: Now, for some silly commentary. In the Proposal clip I couldn’t help but wonder why Rochester has such ridiculously huge gestures. It reminded me of a slowed down dance from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. (His English garden HAS: southerwood, sweetbriar, jasmine, pink and rose…). While Alayna says she fancies he looks like a mime trapped in an imaginary box- and I think that works just as well! I’ve heard of the Fourth Wall and how you ought not to break it but having actors run their hands along it is a little odd. Also, the passion is just a tad overdone. I did say in a previous post that this actor’s portrayal of Rochester is minxy. He has been trying out some new minxery obviously- between his swishy bull-fighter impersonation, and then this proposal… He has the same look as my cat when she’s about to pounce on a piece of paper on the floor. And yet… in the end, its Jane who pounces on him! Slow down, you two!

(Obviously I love the musical, but I can’t help snarking things especially when I really enjoy them!)


Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 9:42 am

Protecting the Imagination

Karen Utley writes ‘the imagination deficit could cripple society’ in today’s Statesman.

As young girls, the Bronte sisters created and performed imaginative dramas; Agatha Christie conversed with her many imaginary friends; young C.S. Lewis invented worlds and recorded their imaginary histories.

Fascinated by the origin of genius, we remember the childhood inventiveness of these novelists because the fruits of their unique and powerful imaginations have entertained generations of readers and continue to inspire authors and filmmakers today.


Unfortunately, however, electronic entertainment industries now are targeting even the youngest children. Their products and programming, including a cable network especially for babies, not only usurp the time children once devoted to imagination-strengthening play, they saturate young minds with ready-made, pre-imagined adventures. Constant exposure to the already-visualized creations of TV producers and video-game designers undoubtedly disrupts the natural growth of creativity. Unless parents and teachers take defensive action to protect children’s imaginations, the electronically stunted imaginations of future writers will produce no “Jane Eyre” or “Chronicles of Narnia.”

The cry has gone up many times in recent years that the imagination is being stunted by modern technology. I tend to agree, although I can’t say that the imagination cannot find other ways to develop. There seems to be less tolerance for anything less than perfection in adapations, for instance. There is little allowance made for budget concerns, or other limitations. And yet, perhaps the proliferation of fan fiction, and fandom in general is a sign of where all of those imaginative energies are going. For instance, someone might forgo reading Wuthering Heights, watch the movie instead and then start to wonder what might have happened inbetween scenes, or create alternate plotlines, or look backward into the backstory or forward and create a ‘sequel’.

To address the publishing issue, personally I am dissappointed with the quality of writing that has passed through my hands as an editor. The heart is gone. I believe the reason for the dearth of great literature is a more complex issue which cannot be attributed to a single cause. I have not read anything truly imaginative nor powerfully excecuted in a long time. And then, the work only had moments of illumination with long periods of dullness of style. These writers did not have television and cgi to blame. Doubtless, eventually we will see something truly great come along once again.

September 10, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 4:25 pm

Romanian Jane Eyre (Valeria Seciu and Victor Rebengiuc)

Especially for Liantasse and the other Romanian readers too shy to speak up in my previous post. I was mistaken, this is not an audiobook but a radio adaptation of some kind starring Valeria Seciu as Jane Eyre and Victor Rebengiuc as Mr Rochester. My information does not include the date of the production, nor any other details about the production. A note sent along with it- an annonymous note!- informs me that the production begins when Jane arrives at Thornfield and that there are some changes, although it includes almost all of the dialogue between Jane and Rochester. So, this is one of those adaptations focussing largely on their relationship. The note-writer also describes Valeria’s performance as being in the style of Joan Fontaine while Victor is described as a great narrator and storyteller without wickedness or ‘minxiness.’ (Clearly the note-writer has been talking to my friends… We (at the League of the Extraordinarily Rochester Obsessed) have identified the minxy-Rochester as a type among adaptations of the character.

(ex. James Barbour. When I first saw a recording of the musical I had to laugh because it decidedly looked like Rochester had used his horse as a diversion so he could pounce on unsuspecting governesses in icy lanes, and then he proceeds to lounge seductively on a rock, while rubbing his chest. He rubs his chest a lot, actually… And during the proposal scene he does this hair-nuzzling thing. But you don’t want to hear about that… Oh, and there’s the flirting thing he does when he’s impersonating Celine Varens too…).

I believe the productions runs to about an hour and a half. Enjoy!

Jane Eyre Romanian Radio Adaptation.


Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 1:17 pm

First Trailer for Jane Eyre 2006

Thanks to the very lovely Pennyforyourdreams, I bring you the first trailer for the BBC’s new Jane Eyre with Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens.

September 9, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 7:43 pm

BBC Press Office on Jane Eyre 2006

The trailer has been seen, and reports are very favourable. It is currently unavailable online, but here’s hoping it will turn up soon. In the meantime, the BBC have posted this synopsis on their Press Office page:

Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens lead an all-star cast in a passionate new version of Charlotte Brontë’s much-adored classic, Jane Eyre.

Orphaned as a child, Jane Eyre is brought up in the cruel and loveless household of her aunt, Mrs Reed. She is an outsider in the Reed family, rejected by her cousins, Georgiana and Eliza, and tormented by their brother, John. Branded a deceitful liar, she is sent to the confines of Lowood School, where she remains until the age of 19. When she finally leaves the dark memories of Lowood behind, Jane embarks upon a career as a governess and her first position is at Thornfield Hall, the home of the alluring and unpredictable yet mysteriously absent Edward Rochester.

Out walking one afternoon, Jane is almost run down by a rider. Startled, the horse falls and throws its rider. Jane helps the dark, enigmatic stranger to his feet and back onto his horse, only to realise later that he is her master, Mr Rochester, returned from his travels.
Although he is taciturn and often moody, Rochester is impressed by Jane’s spirit and is increasingly drawn to her. Jane, in turn, is captivated by Rochester’s outspokenness and dangerous edge. But the dark corridors of Thornfield Hall hold untold secrets and, no matter where she turns, Jane seems to feel the eyes of laundrywoman Grace Poole upon her.
Awakened by a strange laugh one night, Jane follows the noise to Rochester’s room, where she discovers his bed on fire and his life in grave danger. Will she be able to wake him on time and who is responsible for this murderous act?

The cast features newcomer Ruth Wilson as Jane Eyre, Toby Stephens as Edward Rochester, 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.

September 8, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 10:32 pm

‘I’m Sorry St.John, you are the weakest link. Goodbye.’

I am coming down with a bad cold. It is cruel that I should be laughing so much. There are quite a lot of hilariously bad student films about Jane Eyre but this one is also well done. I especially like the Hay Lane scene (those waxy kitchen floors can be treacherous!), and the fire scenes. After careful consideration, I think jet packs are rather useful for getting Rochester up to the third floor and back again. Below is a picture of the very touching fire scene starring Barbie as Jane Eyre and Buzz Lightyear as Mr Rochester.

September 7, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 5:24 pm

Open Day at Thornfield Hall

Chesterfield Today (not a magazine for couch fanciers), has this article about Heritage Open Day which is this Saturday, September 9th. One of the properties is of interest to Bronte fans:

Tourism chiefs are urging residents to help smash Derbyshire visitor records by taking part in a massive free event at some of the county’s leading attractions.

Saturday is national Heritage Open Day and the Civic Trust, National Trust, and Historic Houses Association have joined forces in a partnership, called History Matters, to drum up support.


North Lees Hall is a Grade Two listed 16th century tower house which is owned by the Peak District National Park Authority. It is believed to have been Charlotte Bronte’s inspiration for Mr Rochester’s home, Thornfield House in Jane Eyre.

September 6, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 7:05 pm

Bronteana Exclusives on Jane Eyre 2006- and Job Postings

Attention readers in the UK, I have a job for you. Well, a few jobs, actually. Diederick Santer, producer of the new BBC Jane Eyre informs me that the first on air trails for the series will be airing this Sunday night (10 September) on BBC1. If anyone is willing, a recording of the same to share on Bronteana would be most appreciated! That’s job number one. The second is that, also according to Mr. Santer, Ruth Wilson has just finished a photo shoot for Glamour magazine, if someone will keep an eye out for that and report in.

The production seems to be coming along nicely. I’ve learned a few things about how these series are put together:

Today we ‘delivered’ episode 1 to BBC, we finished the final sound and music mix on episode 2, we listened to some demo music cues and watched some cgi works-in-progress on episode 3, continued dialogue and sound tracklaying on episode 4, and Ruth Wilson did a shoot for Glamour magazine… Hopefully we’ll get it all done in time..

That’s interesting. I didn’t know how these last stages of post-production developed! Also, early on we had reports that cgi was not used for the Thornfield fire. What could it be, I wonder?

ETA: Also, if you are on a slow connection, or are having trouble downloading the clip from the new production, I have just uploaded it at youtube! My first and only video, and you can view it here. If it doesn’t work, have patience. It was only just uploaded and might still be processing.

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