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Friday, September 22, 2006

Rochester: 'The sex is of no interest to me whatsoever'

Taking lines out of context is a lot of fun. I've had confirmation today that I picked the right school. I've 'begun' 'work' on my thesis on adaptations of Jane Eyre and am finding Jane Eyre and What Adaptors Have Done to Her to be a lot of fun. A little thin on criticism, but the quotations are excellent- and often totally hilarious. It begins with a fabulous quote from a theatre review in which they express astonishment that there is no 'National Society for the Suppression of Plays about the Brontes.' Talk about harsh! I love it. Anyway, she goes on to say that the BBC crushed her dreams and so she's not going to play with them but stick to Victorian stage adaptations and two American films (so there!).

The Victorian plays are awesome. I have one linked on the sidebar- the 1857 Brougham one, which includes happy dancing farmers at the end, tons of 'snubbed, by Jove!,' Grace Poole's cake addiction and one 'dem rhinoceros!' (The illustration from the script also shows Mr Rochester flying through the air). To this must now be added some extraordinary lengths to make the story happier (Jane has only just told Rochester that his infirmities 'are none to me, sir' when- poof! he can see again! This reminds me of a blog entry I read recently where someone complained that Rochester's hand doesn't grow back and he doesn't get 'pretty'. If his eye can grow back at a word from Jane, I can't see the trouble with the hand and a perm).

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Two of my favourite moments come from the same play. Goes a little something like this:

Brocklehurst: Ew, who's that smelly tramp?
Rochester: Oh, the hurting off stage and the pain!
Brocklehurst: Let us do the Christian thing and flee the smelly tramp! *leaves*
Rochester: SNARKSNARKSNARK blast it. SNARK
Jane: Oh, snarking. Can I help?
Rochester: You ma fairy womans! Give me a hankee and lift me to safety.
Jane: ...O...kay. Uhm. There.
Brocklehurst: Did you just lift that smelly tramp with a handkerchief? You are so FIRED!Rochester: No, she's hired. I need a governess. Here's my phone number. See you are 9. *clicks*

John Reed: All your inheritance are belong to me! Ha ha!
Jane: Noooo!
Rochester: *whips off his bandages and snatches the inheritance papers*
John Reed: Blast! It cannot be! He sees!
Rochester: I will now pronounce a very long speech about blindness touching mostly upon the blindness in not realising the love of a certain little lady in the crowd today-
Jane: Oh, that's me! I love you!
Rochester: Yes, I was blind but not blind to see ma woman's inheritance stolen!
Jane: ...Hey, you can see!
Rochester: ...Yes. Sorry, I was just pretending.

One last thing. From yet another adaptation comes this complete 'whitewashing' of Rochester's character. It would also be quite a stupendous cover story... Once upon a time Edward loved 'Henrietta' but while he went to London, she married his elder brother 'Arthur.' Edward was going to protest but they had him declared mad, tied up, knocked out and put on a ship to the West Indies. Time passes, everyone dies, so he returns home to find a note from his brother. His brother explains that Henrietta quickly came to hate him, she took a lover, gave birth to Adele. He killed the lover, and had Adele taken from her, so she went mad and he died of guilt- or something. Anyway, Edward is now supposed to hush up Henrietta and raise Adele. Aw... (I couldn't help but think this is too much like: 'It isn't my fault, Jane! I was kidnapped by pirates!')

Okay, one last last thing. The Bronte section here is at least twice the size of the one at my old university and it has bound editions of Transactions of the Bronte Society going back to the 1890s (they all look so cute in their sideburns and cravats for those member portraits! The Victorian editions are in facimile). So guess what I will be doing this weekend! If only I had a scanner... some the material is entirely new to me (including an un-finished novel by Charlotte called 'Ashworth.')


ChrisV said...

This is great - I love your sense of humor - "All your inheritance belongs to me" - Ha Ha!

I was surprised to see the disclaimer on the lack of "risk of impinging any rights". Apparently goes without saying what with the flying Rochester and all.

But putting all your comments together makes me think that perhaps we are missing the subtext that Rochester is an immortal perhaps even divine being - he hovers in the clouds, cures his own blindness and could in all probability grow back a missing hand. You'll have to tell us if you come across any actual documentation of such a feat. It sure would support the whole immortal/divine being assertion.

Your blog entry has inspired me...either that or I'm a bit punchy and should get some sleep...

Liz said...

Hahah! Is that telescoping the plot or what? I love the Henrietta story as well. Adele's paternity is always intriguing, though.

On the subject of adaptations, Lucasta Miller is in today's Guardian:


Anonymous said...

From which adaptation is the title line? :)

Brontëana said...

to chrisv:

That had not occurred to me! Perhaps Jane's blind devotion in other plays is explained by this- she truly worships him! There's one play where he says basically, you know I haven't explained about that laugh and the attacks in this house. Aren't you bit curious about that?

No, not one bit.
You'll tell me when you're ready to.
And what if I never tell you?
You know best!
You'll just trust me?

The strangest and most disappointing change I came across in this book was a whole revision of the ending where Rochester convinces a heatbroken Jane that he has changed and doesn't love her anymore just because he's too pigheaded to cope with the love of his life waiting on him. She plots to stay by being hired as his nurse 'Miss Temple!' But her cover is blown one day and he demands that she leave if he doesn't recover his sight after an operation. He doesn't. Jane gets up in her wedding dress and begins to leave when- poof! He can see and they all live together happily (more or less).

Brontëana said...

to liz:

It looks like spontaneous regeneration of his sight was extremely common in these plays!

Brontëana said...

to anonymous:

The title line is from Miron Leffingwell's 1909 play.

ChrisV said...

And he had the nerve to call Jane the "strange, almost unearthly thing!"

Anonymous said...

*Laughs* "It's not my fault Jane, I was abducted by pirates"! Too funny...