Having recently re-read Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre for the first time since I was in high school, where I fell in love with the book, I was delighted to see the film version, now playing nationwide. It is British so I knew it would be authentic.
In case you don’t know, the title character is a little English girl who overcomes incredible adversity to grow into a strong, moral young woman who faces…incredible adversity.
Poor Jane cannot catch a break!
This two-hour film has to leave out much of the lengthy book but captures the essence of the horror of Jane’s childhood. Her parents died and she was taken in by a relative with a rotten son who struck her. She fought back.
She ends up in a school for wayward girls. There she meets nasty adults who punish first and worry about justice later. While an oppressive place, the school is where she meets her first friend, a little girl named Helen Burns, who is quite angelic in her looks and in her outlook.
You can imagine that Helen too faces challenges.
But I don’t want to tell you in case you somehow, inexplicably, did not read the book. And you need to read the book whether you see the movie or not.
Back to the film, which focuses on Jane’s first assignment as a governess to Mr. Rochester’s ward at Thornfield Hall, a grand house with a big mystery.
Young Jane does not know what men are like and Mr. Rochester, a powerful presence, appears to flirt with her even though she is half his age.
He seems to be taken with her even though he has other lady friends who appear to be more suitable mates.
While the flirtation continues, strange things go bump in the night in the house. Jane is understandably confused and disturbed by all these events.
Without giving away the big secret–which you would know if you read the book!–Jane is forced to make a moral choice. Mr. Rochester is willing to put his personal pleasure before moral right.
Jane has struggled her whole life, which she has spent in misery. We modern people would say that she has suffered enough and should do what makes her feel good and not worry about morality and decency.
But Jane is from another time where virtue was prized and meant something. She makes choices that may make her miserable in the short-term but which are the right thing. Her bravery in her self-denial is commendable and should be applauded.
Jane makes the modern world look shallow and selfish and pathetic.
Jane can teach us how to live and how to overcome. She is not a Sex in the City kind of girl. And she is one we should admire and emulate, not the sluts who spend their lives on their backs.
Jane shows women how to be true to themselves and ends up being more liberated than so-called modern womankind, which has been deluded into thinking bed hopping makes a woman equal. Nothing could be further from the truth.
And Jane actually shows herself to be superior to the love of her life by embracing virtue. It is amazing what we can learn from classical fiction! Turn off your TV shows and see this film. And please read or re-read the book to learn what romance is really all about.