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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Case of the Scream in the Night

After waiting the 4 hours it took for my computer to download this, the first episode of BBC Northern Ireland's Literary Misfits, I have a few thoughts. There will be spoilers so I will get to the links first, and if anyone would like to continue reading they may.

You can listen online here or download the episode as a wmp (made by Thisbeciel) here: The Case of the Scream in the Night

So, this was very amusing. It was amusing for a lot of reasons. I suppose the first thing is hearing Jane Eyre played by an Irishman. It was strange, and it was also a nice change (because of the northern accent). The premise is that Jane decides to go to Sherlock Holmes for some help before she marries Mr Rochester. Hilarity (at least in my view) ensues as Mr.Watson begins to fall in love with this small creature 'who looked like a small animal.' The show gets progressively silly to the point where I burst into laughter when Mr Rochester finally shows up. But I'm getting ahead of myself... We do learn some very interesting things about the Rochesters. Sherlock has deduced that Old Rochester made his fortune from sugar plantations and that Thornfield is not aged by any means but a new building placed upon the barn... he can tell all of this because Jane had two lumps of sugar in her tea- quite incongruous with 'the masocistic governess class' etc. No, indeed, this is indicative of the sugar addiction which the residents of Thornfield suffer from, sugar being the source of their wealth.

There was also a lengthy digression about Northern Ireland which was amusing for its own sake, considering that this is a BBC Northern Ireland production. However, if I may pick up my sleuth hat for a moment, I see a problem with Mr.Holmes' conclusions. Firstly, Mr.Bronte was not from county Antrim, but from county Down. But more significantly, while he is so tied up with detailing how Rochester has disappeared to drug and smuggle his wife out of the country, he doesn't notice something very odd about Rochester when he meets him. Yes, something very odd indeed (I mean, apart from the hysterical ravings from Watson that Rochester has massive legs like oak trees and is able to hide a large dog in his coat). My dear Holmes, your Mr Rochester is not Mr Rochester at all! It is all elementary:

Before Jane's visit to Baker Street to investigate the strange scream from the attic, Mr Rochester- who admitted to Jane that he had heard it as well- mysteriously vanishes. Jane's fears drive her to seek help. In the meantime, Heathcliff has taken his chance to become a respected member of the landed class and ambrushes Mr Rochester while he is out raking swaths, and steals his identity (listen carefully to his description. It doesn't match Mr Rochester in the least but it does sound an awful lot like Heathcliff). Oh, his dog steals Pilot's identity too. And, uhm, Mr Rochester looses his memory and becomes a Literature professor in Belgium; he has never liked being an idle gentleman, loves allusions and wordplay, and as a result of his injuries has forgotten his first language and now speaks only his second- French. Pilot is adopted by Lanseer who paints a lot of Newfoundland Dog pictures, making the breed famous.

That is what really happened! But Holmes obviously hasn't read WH...

4 comments:

Liz said...

It all makes sense! I confess I was a bit confused by Jane’s Yorkshire-by-way-of-Norn-Ireland accent for a bit. I don’t know why poor Mr R always has to be the bad guy…
The Rochesters’ connection to the slave trade has been suggested before, hasn’t it? I know I read one essay which claimed that M Paul was forced to go to Guadaloupe to quench (with his unique brand of snarling sentimentalism) slave rebellions.
That Saturday Night Live parody is quite post-colonialist as well, isn’t it! Mad nympho Bertha transformed into a bronzed sex goddess. Poor repressed Jane reduced to getting her rocks off by proxy. That dreadful cad Mr R getting the best of both worlds. Post-feminist too to boot.

Brontëana said...

Have you read any of Charlotte's poetry? I am always struck by the odd rhymes which, if you think about them, only make sense with a northern-ish accent (not Yorkshire, but vaguely north of Ireland or Scottish). Maybe that was what they were going for but it looks more like a gratuitious way of mentioning Northern Ireland ;)

The villainization was sad, I admit. I have read one article one of my professors wrote about the Rochesters and the slave trade. I thought it was well argued but relied on one or two assumptions not proven by the text. This is the first I've heard about M.Paul and slave rebellions!

Yep- all very popular ways of reading the text nowadays. Ones I'm really weary of. Someone in my class wrote an essay the professor was very eager to support which argued that Mr Rochester actually threw Bertha from the roof and that this is not merely a reading but it is intentional on Charlotte's part! I laughed out loud, the prof said: "No, really..." And I laughed again.

Liz said...

Ah, you must read (if you haven’t) Is Heathcliff A Murderer and Will Jane Eyre Be Happy, both by John Sutherland. They are books of small essays trying to solve various ‘riddles’ in a selection of Victorian novels. He says interesting things about Villette’s ending and the supernatural elements in JE. He is very rude about Mr R (how he is blasted, the poor little mite) and concludes that, no, she won’t.

As for your professor - sometimes I’m glad I’m not in academia any more! ;-)

Brontëana said...

I did read two of his essays in that book for the seminar I took on the Brontes! In fact, my annotation of 'Can Jane Eyre be Happy' was quite brutal. He completely failed to take into account any of the changes Charlotte made to the Bluebeard tale- and she makes quite a few important ones. By ignoring these alterations his argument loses credibility (naturally, since he's wrong wrong wrong! ;)

And I remember reading some of the one on Lucy Snowe's talents for mixing cement ;) lol