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Sunday, October 02, 2005


presents... *raaaaaaaawr!* DA DA DA DUMMMMMM! Jane Eyre.

Well, well... I've listened to the 'Radio Mystery Theatre' version of Jane Eyre twice now. Very very interesting stuff. It's funny, true... Bertha sounds just like a dinosaur and Mr Rochester is a minx but there's a commentary! It would be best if I go through things point by point...

-The introduction frames the story as 'a real chiller' and says it is 'incredible' because Charlotte Brontë 'seldom left her house'. He comments on how 'the day of the governess' is over, and characterises the Victorian period as one when people lived in grand houses filled with servants and a housekeeper 'who sometimes shared dark secrets'. He also says Charlotte is the most famous of the sisters, and that 'their strange brother Branwell' was the 'prototype' for some of the men in their novels.

-The narrative is interrupted again when Jane gets her first clue that the 'laugh' (which truly sounds like a cross between a t-rex and an elephant sometimes) is not coming from Grace Poole. Now, in the past I've always taken that moment to mean just that- there's a laugh coming from upstairs, Grace is not up stairs. Therefore Grace is not laughing. But the narrator jumps in here to suggest that this is odd- the voice is disembodied! And there are demons in the house 'not the least of which is Grace Poole'.

-After Bertha is revealled there is another commentary made. The action goes really quickly so the narrator revisits the scene placing the listener in the place of Jane and describing the scene of going up the stairs and seeing Bertha.

-The most surprising thing of all came at the end. They actually acknowledged that parts were left out of the story! The 'happily ever after' music has barely ebbed away when the narrator says something like: "sounds unbelievable that everything should work out so well, doesn't it? Well, that's how Charlotte Brontë wrote it." And then goes on to complain about the coincidences in the novel!

Arnold Moss (above left) played Rochester. Patricia Elliot (above right) played Jane Eyre.

And now, for some funny additions...

Considering that it sounds like there's a t-rex in the attic Jane is remarkably calm throughout so she actually has to stop and say to her diary how she doesn't scare easily to explain her complete lack of concern. She scares easily enough when Mr Rochester tells her that children annoy him, and she then starts hoping that he'll leave soon! Mrs. Fairfax... can't seem to decide what she knows exactly. At the start she says some nonsense about her dead husband 'rising from the grave' to warn her that no good will come to Thornfield. And every now and then she warns Jane to get out before its too late. And yet, when Blanche arrives she is all a titter and hopes that the rumors of the impending wedding are true. Yet at the end, she says that she tried to warn Jane about Mr Rochester's marriage--and Mason berates her for not telling Jane about it. And then she goes on with her work 'as though nothing had happened'.

Mr Rochester is a minx, I said. During the proposal Jane has to tell him to watch his mouth. Probably my favourite part of his minxery is:

Jane: Oh sir, please, don't talk about--
Mr Rochester: Who? Who?
Jane: ...Edward.
Mr Rochester: Mmm hum!

But the minxiest is...

Jane: Then, sir, I will marry you.
Mr Rochester: *pause* Now, that's no way to accept my offer...

I know that some people have been puzzled about Mr Rochester asking Jane to help him treat Mr Mason. Well, CBS has the answer for us-- Mr Rochester is afraid of the dark (well, no, but it sounds an awful lot like it!).

ETA: I completely forgot to mention this interesting addition:
Rochester: In spite of my infirmities I don't need a nurse; I want a wife.
Jane: Ask me one more time, Mr Rochester.
Rochester: Ah-ah... Edward, Jane, Edward... Our roles have changed, and you are now my master.
Jane: We are two sides of the same coin, Mr Rochester, and no one can split us in two.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting post. I tend not to like changes as far as the Brontës are concerned though.

Yesterday the following made me laugh:

Jane: "I am going to go for a walk" (DA DA DUM!!!!)
Mr. Rochester: "Let's go into the garden" (DA DA DUM!!!!!)”

Cristina from BrontëBlog.

Brontëana said...

to Cristina:

I've developed a real tolerance for such changes. But there are certain aspects that shouldn't be tampered with. I really dislike adaptations that paint Mr Rochester as a boor--that happens a lot. Jane sometimes ends up being questionable in many ways. Off the top of my head, there are a few where Mr Rochester assumes Jane would only do something for him if it were right (as in the book, of course) but she pipes in with either "well, it depends, actually..." or "Oh, would I?" And beautiful Janes are simply silly. If you've ever seen the 1930s version where Blanche actually calls her 'the pretty young governess' and Jane hangs her head, with its shining blond curls and mopes about being plain and quakerish in her huge frock. ;)

Re: the 'da da dum's,
the way some of these folks over-dramatise JE is really amusing. Even some of the better adaptations seem to fall into the trap. And then there are the silly ones like this ;) My friend Alisa parodied the same thing after she listened to the show:

"Jane: Oh wait you mean that sexy, gruff, mysterious, dark man was Mr. R?

Housekeeper: Yep...

Jane: Did he ask about me? *waggles eyebrows*

Housekeeper: Nope..


Jane: *inner dialogue* So he asked me to tea...


Jane: Okay what is frightening about that? The lack of spoons?


Anonymous said...

Your friend's parody is hilarious!! :D