Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

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Title: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Premise:

As children, Heathcliff and Catherine are inexorably drawn together.  Despite their differing natures and weaknesses of character, one can scarcely exist without the other.  Catherine’s haughtiness drives Heathcliff away and stirs him to make his way in the world.  When Heathcliff returns, life at Wuthering Heights will never be the same.  Heathcliff can’t let go of the past and seeks revenge for every real and imagined slight he suffered there.  He and Catherine are like two stars destined to crash into one another and destroy everything near them.

My thoughts:

I first read Wuthering Heights in high school because it was required reading.  I don’t even remember what I thought of it back then, except that it was a bit spooky.  Reading it now, it’s not the spookiness that struck me so much as the examination of human nature.  Heathcliff is such a diabolical character and seems completely beyond redemption.  And yet, despite the fact that he was a dastardly villain, I couldn’t bring myself to truly dislike him.  There’s a part in all of us which feels satisfaction in seeing someone else get revenge on those who have done them wrong.  I’m not saying I condone it, but something in my psyche wants Heathcliff to avenge himself.  Perhaps that’s the lasting draw of this novel — its ability to make the reader examine good and evil in his fellow man, but also in himself.

When you think about when this book was written, it was a very daring tale for its time.  Especially when you consider that it came from a relatively inexperienced young lady.  It’s impressive that she was so adept at capturing human nature and what makes the human race feel hatred, love, and every shade of emotion in between.

This was such an engrossing read for me, that the last part of the book kept me up until the wee hours of the morning.  I simply couldn’t put it down and had to learn the fate of Heathcliff, as well as his young charges.  The ending is so fitting and perfect.  It was a completely satisfying read.  Highly recommended!

I recommend Wuthering Heights to fans of classic literature and anyone who enjoys a messed up love story.

Possible Objections:

  • A little bit of bad language
  • A derogatory term for a loose female is used a few times
  • Some violence

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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Jane Eyre: The Graphic Novel (Original Text)

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Title: Jane Eyre: The Graphic Novel (Original Text) by Charlotte Brontë

Premise:

Jane Eyre has lived a largely loveless and harsh life, first under her aunt’s roof and later at the infamous Lowood School.  When Jane becomes a young adult she ventures forth from her stifled existence, ready for the next chapter in her life.  When she arrives at Thornfield Hall as the new governess, however, she has no idea the pleasures and pain that lie in store for her.

My thoughts:

I wanted to share just a quick note on this book.  It’s a graphic novel which is totally awesome, not only for younger readers, but also for Jane Eyre aficionados.  There is a whole series of these graphic novels based on classic literature, and I will definitely be reviewing more of them in the future.  Also of note, each title comes in at least three different text formats: Original Text, Plain Text, and Quick Text.  These come in handy for different reading levels, making the story accessible to people of all ages.

On to the story!  The story line was followed quite faithfully in the graphic novel version (with only a few minor changes), and this being the Original Text version, the dialogue was also quite faithful.  It’s fun to see the artists’ imagining of how the story looks.  Seeing their imagined facial expressions and the characters’ mannerisms, along with the dialogue, is just another fun way to explore the story of Jane Eyre.  I really enjoyed it!

The illustrations are nice, though for some reason they remind me of 1970’s illustrations.  Don’t ask me why.  Also, the book is divided into chapters, so that provides some good stopping points along the way and keeps the reading manageable for those who want to digest it in stages.

I recommend Jane Eyre: The Graphic Novel to young readers who want an easier introduction to the story, as well as to Jane Eyre fans.  It’s a fun way to explore a wonderful classical story.

 

Possible Objections:

  • some violence

 

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Jane Eyre - Graphic Novel - Original Text 2.jpg

Jane Eyre – Movie 1943

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This next film adaptation of Jane Eyre is from 1944.  The movie is in black and white which gives it a sort of somber feel.  Jane is played by Joan Fontaine, and Mr. Rochester by Orson Welles.

I would classify the overall look of the film as more old-fashioned than period.  Jane’s hairstyle is unique and definitely reflects the time period when it was filmed.  She is very demure and lacks the well-disguised vivacity that Jane possesses in the book.  Mr. Rochester is big and burly.  He is very stormy, almost too stormy.

This film portrays Jane’s childhood differently from other movies, with some portions of it being completely fabricated.  I’m not sure why this was done, except maybe to establish more sympathy for Jane.

While the actors recited their lines well, they seemed to be lacking emotion or sounded fake.  I also didn’t sense a great deal of chemistry between Jane and Rochester.

My other criticisms:

Miss Temple and Mrs. Reed’s daughters are completely missing.  Adele’s French accent is awful.  The excerpts read from the book are made up.  There are plot devices that have been made up, such as Jane going to investigate the tower herself, and Rochester and Blanche talking about money.  The garden scene between Jane and Rochester was disappointing.  Instead of Jane ending up with St. John Rivers when she wanders off, she goes to Bessie.  I don’t know why that was changed.  Finally, Jane and Rochester’s kiss was almost frightening.

I didn’t care much for this adaptation and won’t ever need to see it again.  Watch it if you’re a Jane Eyre fan, otherwise I’d say skip it.

Rated: NR

Rating: 1 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

OTHER JANE EYRE POSTS:

Jane Eyre – TV Mini-Series 2006

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Here is the most recent film adaptation of Jane Eyre that I have watched.  This one is quite long, as it was originally a TV mini-series.  It’s kind of a plus that it’s so long though, because it gives more time for the story to be fully developed.

Toby Stephens stars as Mr. Rochester and Ruth Wilson as Jane Eyre.  I think they are perfect for their parts–Rochester a bit weathered and surly but still magnetic; Jane young and plain, but attractive nonetheless.

There are two aspects to this rendition that will be glaringly obvious to Jane Eyre fans.  They took a lot of free license with the dialogue, and they capitalized on the gothic aspects of the story.  In regards to dialogue, there are countless lines (sometimes almost entire conversations) which have been changed from the book.  I think that the changed conversations still helped establish the spark and connection between Jane and Rochester, but I believe the original dialogue did that also.  I’m not sure why they changed it, unless it was to try to modernize the conversation a bit.

I was quite impressed with how well they brought gothic elements into the movie.  There were plenty of spooky scenes, almost shocking images (Rochester’s bed on fire, for one), a sometimes cruel and dominating male love interest, and the young (seemingly) helpless heroine.  It’s a strong element in this version that I haven’t seen in others.  For that reason alone, you should check it out.

As far as acting, I think that Rochester and Jane were very good.  He was sufficiently gruff and moody, and followed the book a bit better in showing his unfeeling torment of her.  (I have to confess though, I think they went a bit overboard in this version with how despicable he acted towards her.)

Jane was quite interesting–both young and innocent, and wise beyond her years.  She showed the proper amount of reserve, but was willing to share her mind when asked.  I also enjoyed how she stood up for Adele.

Jane and Rochester have some really great chemistry in this movie.  Unlike some other versions, this one does a great job of showing Jane falling in love with Rochester.  It’s good to see the attachment grow on both sides.  Two of my favorite scenes between them are when she asks him for leave to go visit Mrs. Reed (such fun and affection), and when Rochester tries to convince Jane to stay (the bed scene).  That last scene is very intense.  Finally, once they reunite at Jane’s return, this movie gives that whole episode a much more satisfying treatment than any others I’ve seen.

Possible Objections:

  • Mr. Rochester says a couple of rude epithets.  Nothing major, just not appropriate for kids.
  • Bertha says the b-word in Spanish.
  • There is a scene with Rochester’s wife Bertha that is very inappropriate.  Not for young people, even though you technically can’t see anything.

Rated: NR

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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Jane Eyre – Movie 2011

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I have decided that in addition to reviewing books, I’d also like to use this blog to review movie adaptations of books.  To that end, Jane Eyre is my first movie review.  I believe this is the second time that I’ve watched the version that features Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska.  I’m not going to give an extremely detailed breakdown of the movie and all the pros and cons.  I prefer to talk lightly on whether or not I liked it, if there were any glaring errors, etc.  I’d rather you come away with your own ideas from the movie, than be overly influenced by mine.

First, I like the look of the actors they chose to portray Mr. Rochester and Jane in this version.  I know that sounds silly, but if I don’t think “Jane” and “Rochester” when I look at the actors, I’m not going to enter into the story as readily.  I really enjoyed Fassbender’s portrayal of Rochester, though he wasn’t quite as dark and brooding as in some other adaptations or the book.  He didn’t seem to be quite as tortured as he should have been.  Wasikowska’s portrayal, I’m not quite as sure about.  I did enjoy her performance, but it seemed to be lacking something.  There seemed to be a flatness to her character at times, and a general lack of emotion.  I also thought that the chemistry was a little lacking between Jane and Rochester, which is of course one of the main ingredients that makes the whole plot believable.

There were a few bits that I noticed had been changed from the book, but I’ve come to expect that in screen adaptations.  It doesn’t bother me too much.  Unfortunately, there were some scenes left out that I think would have added to the story, but there may have been time constraints.  One thing I thought was quite clever in this adaptation, was that Jane’s story alternated between present day (once she had left Thornfield), and her past (beginning with her childhood).  I think that was an interesting way to tell the story.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie and would recommend it to Jane Eyre fans and those who enjoy a good love story.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed, as long as you go into it allowing it to be its own version of Jane Eyre.  🙂

Rated: PG-13

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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