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Posts Tagged ‘Charlotte Bronte’

What is about a story that makes it a classic? And what is it about Jane Eyre, in particular, that has helped it stand the test of time, and inspire so many theater productions, film adaptations, and spin-offs? I know what I love about it–Jane’s character, for starters. She’s so mistreated, yet stays true to herself and her beliefs, even in the most tragic of circumstances, and is rewarded so wonderfully in the end. Then there’s Jane’s time both at Thornfield Hall and with the Rivers family, with such beautiful surroundings, and time for reading, painting, and longs walks. But let’s not forget the excitement of the gothic influence on the story, and the less-than-serene moments that put us on edge. But what do YOU love about Jane Eyre? And which of the following color adaptations is your favorite?

Jane Eyre 1970 – Susannah York & George C. Scott (1 hr 50 min)

This adaptation brings us our only blonde Jane! The actress who plays the young Jane did an excellent job. And I like the spirit Susannah York brings to grown-up Jane, despite the 70’s vibe of her appearance (Let’s call her Big Hair Jane), and the fact she looks closer to 28 than 18. Rochester, too, looks much older than his supposed 38 years. But he also brings passion and emotion to the role that make it come to life (though with a bit more growling than necessary). We get the scene where Jane collapses on the moors, but don’t see St. John (pronounced “Sinjin”) Rivers carrying her home (I like that scene). St. John himself speaks in an aloof, cold manner, and something about him unsettles me, but I like the scenes with his sisters. Some of the scenery around the Rivers’ home and Thornfield Hall is beautiful, though the film quality isn’t great. The colors are too saturated in some scenes and too dark in others. BUT a big plus for this version is the music score by John Williams, who is known for composing the scores for Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park, E.T., and others. Though this is the earliest color version I know of, I enjoyed it more than some of the later adaptations.


Jane Eyre 1973 – Sorcha Cusack & Michael Jayston (4 hr 35 min)

This version stars Sorcha Cusack, who you might recognize as housekeeper Mrs. McCarthy from the Father Brown detective series! She has a very cute, expressive face, which shows a lot of what Jane was feeling inside, and I thought she did very well with the part. I had a harder time warming up to Michael Jayston as Rochester (is that eyeshadow he’s wearing?!), who speaks in a very clipped, upper-class sounding voice, but that could just be me. The cinematography leaves something to be desired, the only music is at the beginning and end of each episode, and the many voiceovers take away from the acting. BUT it is a much more faithful version, and includes a lot more exact dialogue and details from the book than other adaptations, which is always fun to see on screen. And with over FOUR hours of watching time, it’s the perfect version if you’re bedridden or need company when you have a big project to work on!


Jane Eyre 1983 – Zilah Clarke & Timothy Dalton (3 hr 59 min)

While watching this adaptation I couldn’t forget that this Mr. Rochester went on to be a future James Bond! Timothy Dalton does superbly with this part–dark and brooding and full of emotion. And Zilah Clarke is perfect as Jane–small and doll-like but with fierce inner passion and strength. St. John Rivers stood out to me in this version–he looks precisely as I pictured him from the description in the book, with his “Grecian profile,” although the actor portrays the character as a cold, judgmental religious fanatic without any love for the people he would help with his missionary work. With its longer length, you get a lot more details, scenes, and characters from the novel than the shorter versions–such as Jane’s wanderings through both town and countryside before finally collapsing on the moor (can you tell I like this scene?). In fact, this version is probably truest to the book. If you haven’t seen it yet, I’d say give it a try!


Jane Eyre 1996 – Charlotte Gainsbourg & William Hurt (1 hr 56 mins)

Young Jane (Anna Paquin) and housekeeper Mrs. Fairfax (Jane Plowright, Tea with Mussolini, Enchanted April) are the real stars of this adaptation. Although he’s not on screen, Italian director Franco Zeffirelli (Romeo and Juliet 1968, Tea with Mussolini) brings another star to the film. While I found some of the other Mr. Rochesters too blustery and angry, William Hurt’s take on the character seems too placid and uninteresting. Charlotte Gainsbourg did well as Jane (although she’s too tall!), but would have been better opposite another male lead. The music and scenery are an improvement from previous versions, as is Jane’s attire. With its shorter length, many scenes from the novel are missing, as expected. But the plot also veers off completely at times, such as Jane first meeting St. John Rivers at Gateshead when she goes to see her dying aunt, instead of him discovering her on the moors. And as soon as Jane leaves after discovering Mr. Rochester is married, Thornfield is already on fire! Overall, most of the story is captured in the adaptation. But with many details that add depth and breadth to the story missing, and with the mis-portrayal of Mr. Rochester, the film is not as good as it might have been.


Jane Eyre 1997 – Ciaran Hinds & Samantha Morton (1 hr 48 mins)

This was the first version of Jane Eyre I ever saw (anyone else?) Samantha Morton has the right “Jane-ish” look, and Ciaran Hinds fits the Rochester profile, too. But I found her a bit too mechanical at times, while Hinds comes across as too shouty and angry (as he is in a lot of roles), and I couldn’t help but find it hard to believe that Jane would actually fall in love with him. This is the first version where St. John Rivers, played by Rupert Penry-Jones, seems like a real contestant for Jane’s love (we DO get the wonderful scene where he finds Jane on moors and carries her home–Love!). And if you didn’t know, both Penry-Jones and Hinds play Captain Wentworth in Jane Austen’s Persuasion in the 2007 and 1995 versions, respectively. So I suppose Jane had a choice between Wentworth and Wentworth! I liked Gemma Jones as Mrs. Fairfax, but found the girl who played Adele too old for the part. Also, because of time constraints, this version left out a lot. But it’s still worth watching, even if just for comparison, for all the familiar faces, and because there’s always something to like about a version of Jane Eyre!


Jane Eyre 2006 – Ruth Wilson & Toby Stevens (3 hr 50 mins)

Cinematography had come along way by the time this mini-series was made, which alone makes it a more enjoyable watch. There are dreams, flashbacks, hallucinations, and creative camera-angles. The music score is good, and the scenery and settings are stunning. But I also think that both Ruth Wilson and Toby Stevens brought so much to their roles. Wilson both looks the part of Jane, and brings Jane’s uncertainty, humility, and passion to life. Stevens is a wonderful mixture of brooding, fear, and playfulness, and it’s easy to see what draws Jane to him. I loved the conversations between them, in which they discuss their pasts, or issues of morality, and you can sense their growing attachment to each other. Georgie Henley (from the Narnia films) looked just the part as Wilson’s younger Jane self, and I really liked Lorraine Ashbourne’s portrayal of Mrs. Fairfax. We have the scene where Jane gets lost on the moors (yay!), and a good portrayal of St. John, although he didn’t quite look the part. I appreciated how this version had the time to portray many of the details of Jane’s inheritance and discovery of her relationship with the Rivers. I also think the ending of this adaptation is the very best! But if you want a more accurate representation of the book, you might not like that this version adapted some of the dialogue for modern ears, and took creative licenses in telling the tale.


Jane Eyre 2011 – Mia Wasikowska & Michael Fassbender (2 hrs)

This adaptation boasts more beautiful music, cinematography, costumes, and settings. But similar to the 2019 adaptation of Little Women, the film starts later in the story, which can be confusing if you aren’t familiar with the book. This version begins with Jane running away from Thornfield Hall (a gorgeously filmed scene), and then moves back and forth between the past and the present to tell the story. Mia Wasikowska looks just the part of the reserved Jane, and you can sense the fire behind her eyes. But I would have liked to see more of that passion escape, especially during certain scenes. We only get glimpses of smiles and few real tears. In parts, she seems plain depressed. I would have loved to see real laughter, or the occasional raised voice, and all those emotions we know are trapped inside–especially during the proposal scene. Likewise, though Fassbender shows plenty of moodiness and pent-up frustration, we don’t see much of a playful, teasing side, or any lighter interactions between him and Jane. Judy Dench (A Room with a View, Ladies in Lavender) does, of course, steal our attention when she’s on screen as Mrs. Fairfax. But Jamie Bell (Nicholas Nickleby), although he’s a talented actor, didn’t quite make a believable St. John, in my opinion. Going back to Jane and Rochester, the natural chemistry between them wasn’t what it could have been. But this beautiful film is definitely worth watching, if you’re a Jane fan or not.


SO . . . which of these Jane Eyre adaptations is YOUR favorite? Have you seen them all? If not, which one above will you be running to watch next? I’d love to hear!

Avonlea x

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Happy Little Sigh

Finding beauty in the everyday ❤

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Quarantine and stay-at-home is these four walls, and this same view. It is little more in terms of location than a trip to the supermarket every two weeks, or a stroll around the block for some exercise. And so holidays, and visits, and adventures must be had by way of video chats, movies, and books. But what if it could be more? What if you could spend your quarantined time not just reading, but living in the pages of a book and being its heroine for a while? If you could do just that, to which if these five period classics would you escape for a month?

1. Jane Eyre – You’d have a large room to yourself, complete with four-poster bed and a view of the gardens in a beautiful, but slightly spooky English manor house. Your mornings would be spent studying French, Geography, and Flora & Fauna with Adele, Mr. Rochester’s ward. Your afternoons would be spent painting, or wandering the moors and gardens of Thornfield Hall. In the evenings, you could have long talks with Mr. Rochester, or chat with the housekeeper, Mrs. Fairfax. It would be a quiet escape to a beautiful place with some good company, but you’d have do endure the occasional eerie noises outside your door at night.Jane Eyre

 

2. Little Women – You’d share a cozy room with your sisters, complete with a fireplace, lots of quilts and books, and a view of your quaint New England village. Your mornings would be spent taking food to the needy, or reading to your Great Aunt Josephine. Your afternoons would be spent having walks in the woods with your charming but incorrigible neighbor, Laurie. In the evenings, you could do some playacting in the attic with your sisters, or stay up late into the night writing by candlelight. This would be an escape full of lovely people and lovely ideas, but you might occasionally find yourself a little bored and longing for more adventure. littlewomen199413

 

3. Anne of Green Gables – You’d have a bedroom to yourself, complete with iron bed, washstand, and a view of green farmland. You’d spend your mornings at the small island school, where you’d learn to spell C-h-r-y-s-a-n-t-h-e-m-u-m, and would have to endure teasing by Gilbert Blythe. You’d spend your afternoons strolling along the shore beneath the lighthouse with Diana Berry, or holding tea parties, or reenacting poems like “The Lady of Shallot.” You could spend your evenings sitting by the fire chatting with Matthew and Marilla, or reading books. This would be happy escape to a cozy community, but you might grow tired of the taunting from Josie Pye, and with the ugly dresses Marilla makes you wear. green gables house

 

4. Pride & Prejudice – You’d have to share a bedroom in your large family home in England with your sister Jane, complete with beautiful furnishings and a view of your family’s small park. Your mornings would be spent reading, or listening to your sisters squabble. Your afternoons would be spent walking in the garden picking flowers, or visiting your friend Charlotte Lucas. In the evenings you could attend balls and gatherings, where you’d get the chance to mingle with many different people, including Mr. Darcy. This escape would present a good mixture of peaceful and exciting moments, but you might not like having to be polite to Mr. Whickam, or putting up with withering looks from Mr. Bingley’s sisters. pride and prejudice dance

 

5. Little House on the Prairie – You’d share a room with your sister in your family’s simple pioneer home with a view of the rolling prairie. You’d spend your mornings doing chores like churning butter, collecting eggs, and kneading bread. Your afternoons would be spent exploring outside with your sisters, or taking a trip to town in the wagon with Pa. In the evenings, you could listen to Pa tell stories or play folk songs on his fiddle, or sit outside by the fire and look at the stars. You’d learn a lot of practical skills in this escape, and have a happy, wholesome time, but you might feel like you need a vacation from all the hard work when you get back. prairie-e1510179053375-1-850x510

So, which would you choose? Share your pick below, or share on Facebook or Instagram and see how your friends would vote!

Avonlea x

Find me on

Instagram @happylittlesigh or

Facebook @happylittlesigh

Happy Little Sigh

Finding beauty in the everyday 

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I went out grudgingly.

Would have rather stayed in to clean the bathrooms.

Do some scrapbooking.

Get a batch of muffins in the oven.

All the important things I wanted to do today.

But the fractiousness of little boys after a week of April showers forced me out.

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Out into the garden.

Warmth and sunshine washing over.

The almost green of our snow-flattened grass.

And birdsong.

Birdsong, and I’m Mary Lennox, chasing a robin over a garden gate.

Birdsong, and I’m Jane Eyre with her rooks, exploring Thornfield Hall on her very first morn.

Birdsong, and time is lost,

and I’m myself fifteen years past, discovering a walled garden of my very own.

Scotland.

Pussy willows and crocuses.

Blackbirds and brick.

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Birdsong today, and the magic of viewing the world

upside-down

from a swing.

And it’s springtime,

and doesn’t your heart ache with the glory of it?

Of life,

new beginnings,

winter’s end?

And I’m thankful,

wildly thankful in a way I could never express,

for the possibility of all things,

me included,

being turned upside down,

made new.

And I wonder at the sun’s warmth,

and that He calls Himself that,

our Sun and our Shield.

Our Shield,

for don’t we need protecting

from many things,

even ourselves?

Our Sun,

for don’t we revel in the light and the heat?

Don’t we thrive?

Get life?

Doesn’t He give us life

eternally?

Spring.

It has come upon us.

Find a tree stump.

A picnic table.

A bench.

Wait for birdsong.

And just breathe.

Be still and know that I am God.

Psalm 46:10

Listen…

Avonlea xo

Find me on Instagram @happylittlesigh orFacebook @happylittlesigh

MONTHLY Newsletter, Morning Cuppa Tea at happylittlesigh@gmail.com 

happylittlesigh.com

Finding beauty in the everyday 

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For friend hearts, and sweethearts, and parent hearts, too,

for hungry tummies, and open arms, this one’s for you.

Some truth, some fluff, some real love stuff . . .

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Ah, Janey, make us swoon.

To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love.

~Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

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Love? Yeah . . . You’ll be crying . . .

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Well, well . . .

Handsome is as handsome does.

~J.R.R. Tolkien

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Ah, at last . . .

I don’t want sunbursts and marble halls. I just want you.

~Lucy Maud Montgomery,

Anne of the Island

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Sweetest video ever made–send this one to your honey.

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And this is what you can tell them over Valentine’s dinner 😉

Opening her eyes again, and seeing her husband’s face across the table, she leaned forward to give it a pat on the cheek, and sat down to supper, declaring it to be the best face in the world.

~Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend

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Love? Oh, WOW.

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Love comforteth like sunshine after rain.

~William Shakespeare, Venus and Adonis

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A little something for the Valentine table.

For your children, for your honey, or for you!

Beetroot and Parsnip Soup with Horseradish*

(nope, not tomato!)

pink soup? think of that! and jolly easy to make!

30 grams butter

1 potato, peeled and chopped

2 parsnips, peeled and chopped

1 small onion, chopped

2 large or 4 small beetroot,

peeled and chopped

800 ml vegetable stock

1oo ml cream and sour cream,

combined

1 T horseradish mixed with

1 T olive oil and 1 t vinegar

Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat. And the onion and cook till soft but not brown, then add the potato, parsnip, and vegetable stock/broth. Bring to the boil and then add the beetroot, cooking for a further 15 minutes. Don’t overcook, as the beetroot will go from a lovely deep pink to a red color. When the vegetables are tender, remove from heat and puree with a stick blender (or blender) until the soup is smooth, but with a few lumps. Stir in the cream, sour cream, and horseradish mix and season with salt and black pepper. Exquisite!

*Recipe adapted from Delicious Soups by Belinda Williams

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Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.

~C.S. Lewis

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Wishing the happiest of Valentine weekends to you!

Avonlea x

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Happy Little Sigh is now on Pinterest! Join me there?

http://www.pinterest.com/happylittlesigh/

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The moors. Just say the words and I immediately picture a young woman in dark, drab clothes, fighting the wind as she makes her
way across vast, boggy, windswept hills. This is, of course, because one of my favourite authors—Charlotte Brontë— lived for most of her life in the town of Haworth, in the moors of the historic county of Yorkshire, England. It seems that the often bleak, desolate landscape filled the imagination of Charlotte and her sisters Anne and Emily, and inspired their works of fiction.

The Moors

If you are not well acquainted with the Brontë  sisters, Charlotte, Anne, and Emily were literary geniuses and authors of some of the best-loved books in the English language. Nothing short of extraordinary, considering they all came from the same family. Their father, the Reverend Patrick Brontë, and their brother Branwell, also saw their works in print.

Anne, Emily, & Charlotte

Charlotte’s most famous novel is Jane Eyre. She also wrote Shirley, Villette, and the Professor. Anne wrote The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Agnes Grey, and Emily wrote Wuthering Heights. Since writing was not considered an appropriate profession for ladies in the middle of the 19th century, the Brontës published under the nom de plumes (pen names) of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell.

At the time of publication, their works were acknowledged for their directness and passion, qualities which were sometimes considered by the critics to be “coarse” and “brutal”. The sisters certainly were extremely talented authors and had vivid imaginations, but writers write best about what they know, and the sisters led lives full of tragedy.

The girls had two older sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, and a brother, Branwell. Their mother died in 1821,when the children were very little. In 1824 the sisters first left home to attend a boarding school. It seems it wasn’t the nicest of places, and the experience provided Charlotte with a model for the infamous Lowood School in her novel Jane Eyre. The eldest daughter Maria was sent home from the school because of ill health and died at home, aged eleven. Ten-year-old Elizabeth was sent home shortly after and died the following month. It’s no surprise that the other girls were withdrawn from the school after that. But then their brother Branwell died while still a young man, and Emily and Anne died not long afterwards from tuberculosis, at thirty and twenty-nine years old. It’s hard to understand why they didn’t move from their home, when the sanitation and water supply in the town were so polluted and inadequate, and when the average age at death was only twenty-five. But perhaps it was too late by the time they realized the effects their environment had on them, and I suppose it’s hard to comprehend how ill-informed not only the general public but also doctors were in those days.

In spite of that, I would very much like to travel back in time and be a guest in the Brontë parlour. I would choose a howling windswept night, when the sisters would have pulled their chairs even closer around the fire so they could read to each other and discuss their novels. Perhaps being present for such discussions would have some beneficial effects on my own literary skills. But
alas, such a visit is not possible, and I shall have to content myself with reading their finished works.

Charlotte Bronte

While I must admit to having read only two of their books—Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre—both novels made a lasting
impression on my mind, unlike so many other books I’ve finished, whose characters, titles, and story lines have long faded from memory. That being said, I didn’t particularly like Wuthering Heights. It’s a bit too strange and a bit too sad for my liking, although
don’t take my word for it. The book isn’t considered one of the world’s best for nothing. Jane Eyre, on the other hand, is one of my very favourites. It’s that rags to riches theme again—the poor, plain, orphan girl who falls hopelessly in love with her wealthy yet
misunderstood and somewhat dangerous employer—combined with the dramatic setting of an English manor house and all the secrets, mysteries, and drama bound to be uncovered in such a place. And then there are the wonderful but surprising themes of redemption, forgiveness, and grace . . . but more on that next time.

At the moment, I’d like to hear which of the Brontë novels you like best. What is your opinion of Wuthering Heights? And which book do you suggest I read next? Something by Anne, perhaps?

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Let me suggest the following websites for more information and pictures on the Brontës and their works . . .

The Bronte Family – Exploring the lives, literature, and art of these important Victorian women writers.  http://www.brontefamily.org/

Jane Eyre – A guide to film and stage adaptations of the book from as far back as 1909.  http://eyreguide.awardspace.co.uk/adaptations.html

Haworth – The Bronte Parsonage Museum website. http://www.bronte.org.uk/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=26

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