Friday, November 28, 2014

The Book Lover's Den #12: Jane Eyre - The Famous Proposal Scene

Welcome to my Friday feature!

In each weekly post, I explore 
my thoughts on several 
book-related topics.

The Jane Eyre Read-Along, hosted by Brian @ Babbling Books, and myself, has now officially ended, and I must confess to feeling lost and forlorn..... This might seem a bit melodramatic on my part, but there it is. That's just how I feel. I suppose that could be because I haven't read a great classic in a long time, but I suspect it's more than that. After all, Jane Eyre is my absolutely favorite classic, bar none! However, I had not analyzed this novel in such depth before. True, it was one of my high school English Lit. assignments, but I don't remember much about the analysis I did back then. This time around, I somehow saw more things, especially about Mr. Rochester's character, that I had not seen before.

Jane, too, seemed even more fiery and spirited than I remember her being, when I first read the novel. It was wonderful to read! I especially liked the dialogues between her and Rochester when they were first getting acquainted. It was obvious that they were meant for each other, for they were evenly matched in nearly every way, except spiritually. However, even that was overcome by the end of the novel.

I was feeling so downcast about leaving the world of Jane Eyre, that I decided I just had to enter it again. Last night, I took out and watched, for the first time, part of the 1983 BBC miniseries, which I had bought about a month ago. Timothy Dalton, the actor who played Rochester, was truly magnificent! His interpretation of Rochester is, I think, the one closest to the author's vision. He was a true Byronic romantic hero! His voice was mesmerizing,  his delivery and diction impeccable, his very gestures stamped him as Edward Fairfax Rochester in the flesh. I felt as if  I were encountering the character for the very first time, and it was exhilarating!

Sadly, I did not experience the same thing with Jane. Zelah Clarke, the actress who portrayed her, did not match Dalton's superb performance. Her interpretation left a lot to be desired, as her Jane was much too passive. I kept hoping she would show as much fire and spirit as the novel clearly demonstrated Jane to possess. It just wasn't there. I think, however, that part of the fault lies with two other people -- Alexander Baron, who wrote the TV adaptation, and the director, Julian Amyes. They apparently felt that Jane, as written by Charlotte Bronte, was just too passionately a feminist, even for 1983 audiences. So what they apparently did was to "tone her down" to a mere shadow of herself. She was no longer a  worthy match for Rochester, but a more quiescent heroine, perhaps more typical of those prevalent in fiction at the time this novel was written.

Below, I have included the famous proposal scene from the  novel, as seen in the 1983 miniseries. This is where Jane delivers a passionate speech to Rochester, declaring her true feelings for him. This was the most disappointing part of the 1983 miniseries. It should have been the most thrilling, romantic, and electrifying. I loved Dalton's performance, but Clarke's left me totally cold.....I am firmly convinced that Dalton was purposely emphasized in this version, to the detriment of Clarke, who was either not given a chance to shine, or simply did not know how to play her character effectively.

I then decided to go to YouTube in order to find other adaptations for comparison -- specifically of the proposal scene. I searched in vain for the same scene from the 1970 adaptation, starring George C. Scott and Susannah York. I saw this one years ago, but don't remember it well. I also looked for the Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine version, and found it. I wasn't quite satisfied with this one, either, mainly because Welles and Fontaine were speaking in their regular American accents. Besides, it was very obvious that Fontaine was closer in age to Welles than Jane Eyre is supposed to be. Furthermore, she, too, fails to embody the character as originally written. Again, Jane is a revolutionary person, so she was also toned down in this version; unsurprisingly, since this film was released in 1943.

The director was Robert Stevenson, and the screenplay was written by three people: John Houseman, Aldous Huxley (of Brave New World fame), and Stevenson himself.

Well, perhaps now no film adaptation can quite compare to the book, for me.... However, I did find a much more spirited Jane, in the proposal scene for the 2006 miniseries, also done by the BBC. The actress who portrayed Jane, Ruth Wilson, did a much better job of being the character, at least, in this particular scene. I would have to watch the entire series to see whether Jane is just as spirited throughout. As for the actor who portrayed Rochester, Toby Stephens, his style is totally different from Dalton's; it struck me as a bit unusual for this character. Still, I enjoyed the performance of these two actors much more. I especially liked how they got rained on, and excitedly went back to the house, where he was very reluctant to let her go.

The director of this version was Susanna White, and the screenplay was written by Sandy Welch. I wonder if this is the reason I find this portrayal of Jane to be more satisfactory. The previous directors and screenplay writers were all men.

I also watched this same scene from the 2011 movie, starring Michael Fassbender as Rochester, and Mia Wasikowska as Jane. Here, again, I found the performances uneven. I liked Wasikowska's portrayal of Jane, but found Fassbender's Rochester lacking. He should have been much more forceful. Instead, he came off as a bit weak, although the montage of images certainly helped this particular scene.

The director of this film adaptation was Cary Joji Fukunaga, and the author of the screenplay was Moira Buffini.

So now I don't know what to think.... I am left with a restless feeling, or perhaps more of a feeling of incompleteness. I do need to watch the entire 2006 miniseries, to see how I like it. All the episodes are available free on YouTube. If it turns out that I like it, I will eventually attempt to acquire it, although it's out of print, and therefore, a bit pricey.

I also believe we're long overdue for a new version of this immortal novel -- one in which both Rochester and Jane are portrayed with equal passion,  equal firmness of character. Unfortunately, I am left with the nagging impression that just maybe, that will never be possible....

I really need to re-read this novel again soon. I don't think I'll ever get enough of it!!

Online Links

Have you seen any of these
film adaptations?
If so, which is your favorite?
Or do you have another
favorite I have not discussed here?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!! Great YA Books Coming in December!!!

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!!

I'm wishing all of my readers,
whatever country you're in,
a wonderful day!!
Although Thanksgiving is
an American holiday,
the idea of thanking a Higher Power
for the blessings we enjoy
is one that has universal applicability.

What am I thankful for?

I'm very thankful for all the things treasured by all of us -- family, health, and a roof over my head, especially in these stressful economic times!

I'm especially thankful for all the books and authors that have inspired and entertained me, as well as for new books that are constantly being published!  Here are some of the ones coming out very soon!!

These books are all coming 
your way next month!!
Happy Reading!!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday #120: Frostfire, by Amanda Hocking

This is a weekly event hosted by
It showcases future releases which
we book bloggers
are eagerly anticipating!!

Here's my choice for this week!

(The Kanin Chronicles #1)
Amanda Hocking
St. Martin's Griffin
January 6, 2015
Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, 
Young Adult Fiction

Bryn Aven is an outcast among the Kanin, the most powerful of the troll tribes.

Set apart by her heritage and her past, Bryn is a tracker who's determined to become a respected part of her world. She has just one goal: become a member of the elite King’s Guard to protect the royal family. She's not going to let anything stand in her way, not even a forbidden romance with her boss Ridley Dresden.

But all her plans for the future are put on hold when Konstantin– a fallen hero she once loved – begins kidnapping changelings. Bryn is sent in to help stop him, but will she lose her heart in the process?

Why I'm waiting on this one!!

 Anything by Amanda Hocking is
bound to be terrific!
I can see that Bryn is not they type
of girl to let anything or 
anyone stand in her way, so
it looks like she'll be doing quite a
bit of butt-kicking!
I also like the mention of the
word 'changelings', because that means
the fae are involved!
I think this is a book all fantasy
lovers (like me!) will enjoy! 

What do you think of my 
choice this week?
Leave me your links in 
the comments,
so I can go check out yours!!


Monday, November 24, 2014

The 5th Annual Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge!!

Welcome to The 2014 Christmas
Spirit Reading Challenge,
hosted by Michelle, @

Every year at this time, Michelle hosts 
this wonderful reading challenge,
which gives every Christmas addict
(and I count myself among those)
an opportunity to indulge in
the pleasant pastime of reading
Christmas books exclusively during
this beautiful, joyful, and sacred season!
This is the fifth year of the challenge,
and I sure hope there will be
many more to come!

Here are the rules:
1.) The challenge will run from Monday,
Nov. 24, 2014, through
Sunday, January 6, 2015.
(This is Twelfth Night, or Epiphany.)
2.) Crossover with other challenges
is totally permitted AND
3.) These must be Christmas novels,
books about Christmas lore,
books of Christmas short stories or poems,
books about Christmas crafts,
and, there's a children's 
Christmas books level, too!

Here are the levels:
1.) Candy cane: read 1 book
2.) Mistletoe: read 2 - 4 books
3.) Christmas Tree: read 5 or 6 books
(This is the fanatic level....LOL.)

Additional Levels:
Fa La La La Films: watch a bunch of or a few
Christmas's up to you!
Visions of Sugar Plums: read books with
your children this season, and share
what you read.

The additional levels are optional.
You must still complete one
of the main reading levels above.

Michelle has already posted 
a review Linky as a page on her blog today.
You will find it at the top
of the right sidebar on her blog.
She will also be doing a giveaway!
Please visit her blog for more details,
as well as to add your blog's name
and URL to the signup Linky!!

Mistletoe Level

These are the books I will attempt
to read this year:

I'd like to encourage you all to join this
great reading challenge!
It's certainly a great holiday tradition
for me by now,
and I'm hoping it will become one
for you guys, too!!
And last but definitely not least.....

Happy Thanksgiving!!

The 2014 Jane Eyre Read-Along: Week 10, Book Review

Welcome to the tenth & last week of
The 2014 Jane Eyre Read-Along,
brought to you
by the blogs
A Night's Dream of Books

Read-Along Links

This is the week where all participants put up their reviews of this immortal classic! The reviews were originally scheduled for November 21st, but we had to reschedule at the last minute because real life intervened.....

It's been a fascinating time for those of us who have been analyzing and discussing various facets of this novel, which opens new vistas every time a reader dives into it. I'd like to thank, first of all, my co-host, Brian @ Babbling Books, for a GREAT collaboration, with hopes of many more to come!! His insights, hard work, and comments throughout the read-along  have helped me to appreciate this novel much more than I already did! I'd also like to especially thank Jim @ The Frugal Chariot for all of his insights and comments! And then, thanks to the rest of you -- those who have actively participated, and those who have commented on the read-along posts -- for your thoughts on this great classic, which have also enriched my understanding of it!

Stay tuned for more classics read-a-longs in the future! 

Jane Eyre
Charlotte Brontë
Hardcover, 656 pages
Everyman's Library
(Everyman Edition, Reprint)
February 8, 2011
(first published 1847)
Classics, Gothic Fiction, Historical Fiction,
Literary Fiction, Romance
Source: Purchased from Amazon

Jane Eyre, a penniless orphan, is engaged as governess at Thornfield Hall by the mysterious Mr. Rochester. Her integrity and independence are tested to the limit as their love for each other grows, and the secrets of Mr. Rochester's past are revealed.

Charlotte Brontë’s novel about the passionate love between Jane Eyre, a young girl alone in the world, and the rich, brilliant, domineering Rochester has, ever since its publication in 1847, enthralled every kind of reader, from the most critical and cultivated to the youngest and most unabashedly romantic. It lives as one of the great triumphs of storytelling and as a moving affirmation of the prerogatives of the heart in the face of disappointment and misfortune.

Jane Eyre has enjoyed huge popularity since first publication, and its success owes much to its exceptional emotional power.

When I first read this great novel, I was about 17, and it was part of a high school English Literature assignment. The story of Jane, a poor orphan at the mercy of her cruel aunt and cousins -- especially John Reed -- immediately captivated me. I got totally immersed in the novel, and I couldn't stop thinking about it even after I had finished it.

Little Jane Eyre eventually became an accomplished teacher, securing a position as governess to the protege of a very wealthy man -- Edward Fairfax Rochester. As the events unfolded, I felt myself being swept up in them, right along with Jane. When she first met Mr. Rochester, and subsequent pages revealed more about him, I fell in love with him just as hard as Jane eventually did.

Their love story is a beautiful one, especially because they are so  perfectly matched, in spite of their disparate social stations. Rochester is a man of potent masculine energy, although that energy can be overly dominating at times. Jane, however, is not intimidated by this, as she has quite a strong will of her own. The two of them are also intellectually sharp, and equally passionate. This is quite evident at two points in the novel: in Jane's vehemently emotional declaration to Rochester in the orchard of Thornfield Hall, and in Rochester's pained request that Jane not leave him, precisely as she is about to.

My adolescent mind and heart thrilled to all this emotion, all this romantic passion laced with mystery and desperate longing.... Everything about the story totally mesmerized me. This was my first Gothic novel, and I was inevitably pulled in by the air of secrecy and gloom pervading Thornfield Hall.... As the mystery deepened, I felt my attraction to Mr. Rochester grow; I perceived he carried a terrible burden of some type, and, like Jane, I wished to alleviate his emotional pain...

Having just read this novel for the second time, I have a more comprehensive view of it. I now see, more clearly than ever, just how much this novel centers around Jane herself. Most of it is about her growth as a person, her coming into her own, mature power. It's also about her great love for Mr. Rochester, however. In fact, there's a fascinating tension between the two themes of Jane finding her true self, and the pull of a love so wonderful, so all-encompassing, that it almost reaches religious fervor. 

Ironically, it is Rochester himself who is actually the catalyst for Jane's inner awakening. He is the one who unintentionally propels her into a quest for her true self. And what is this true self? It is her own Christian conscience, coupled with a sense of her own value as an independent person. 

In rejecting Rochester's unconventional proposal, Jane is not only being true to her ideals, but to herself as an autonomous being. The two things go together. As a Christian, she cannot possibly betray her firm moral standards; as a feminist, which she undoubtedly is, she cannot possibly betray her own independence and autonomy in becoming 'a kept woman'.

This is definitely a very complex novel, and thus, should be re-read many times, for each new reading leads to new revelations. This time around, I was surprised to find Rochester to be a much darker character than I had thought him to be during my first reading. I still loved him, but now I saw, more clearly, that his love for Jane was not a totally pure one. In fact, it struck me as bordering on obsession, and yet, it was not altogether selfish, either. After all, he never meant to hurt her; he merely wanted to give her everything her heart desired, to treat her as he felt she deserved to be treated -- as "a peeress of the realm". In the process, he also hoped she would redeem him from his previously depraved life.

Jane was quite right to resist him, not only because of his objectification of her, but also because each person has to find him/herself through an inner quest, and such a quest necessarily involves a higher power. One cannot expect to be 'saved' by another person. For Brontë, only the Christian God can do that. Jane herself repeatedly tells Mr. Rochester to turn to God for solace and comfort.

In spite of my new perspective on Rochester, I was just as caught up in all this as I was during my first reading. I wanted them to end up together just as badly, in spite of seeing the underlying deception, the horrible secret of Thornfield Hall. This is due to the author's great literary skill in crafting these immortal characters. They leap off the page, entering our imaginations with the forcefulness of real people.

The secondary characters are vividly drawn, as well, from the despotically cruel Mrs. Reed and her spoiled, equally cruel children, to the hypocritically self-righteous Mr. Brocklehurst, the gentle, saintly Helen Burns, the sprightly French girl, Adele, the cold, detached, stern St. John Rivers, and his sweet sisters, Diana and Mary. Then there are Bessie, the servant who most sympathized with little Jane, Mrs. Fairfax, the very sweet Miss Temple, and the enigmatic Grace Poole. All are equally memorable in the reader's mind, and all contribute richly to the plot.

There's symbolism everywhere, as well, from the curtains and drapes at Gateshead Hall, with their hints of sanctuary and even entombment, to the old chestnut tree, which presages the lovers' separation, to Jane's eerily predictive nightmares... The Romantic movement was obviously a huge influence on the author, as even the weather in the novel, as well as the vegetation -- or lack thereof -- are bearers of hidden meanings and portents.

The novel has been criticized for certain coincidental events in the plot, but I would say that, in its overall structure, Jane Eyre is very well conceived and carried out. It is masterfully written, in prose that soars and sweeps through field and moor, enchanting the reader with its sonorous cadences. Having said that, I know I need to listen to one of the several audio versions, for this is a novel meant to be read aloud. I would especially like to listen to Mr. Rochester's initial conversations with Jane; they show the reader his rapier wit and keen intelligence, as well as his magnetic personality. Jane's responses, too, tell us much about her personality, as she skillfully spars with him, giving no quarter.

Along with its predominant theme of the pull of love vs. the search for one's true self is the equally important theme of class prejudice. I was delighted to see that Rochester did not approve of this particular vice; he never for a moment considered Jane as being 'beneath' his station, something which a lesser man might have. In contrast to those of his immediate social circle, he had nothing but admiration for Jane. He plainly saw the very sharp contrast between Jane and Blanche Ingram, the solid integrity of the one, and the social superficiality of the other. That Blanche belonged to 'the upper class' meant nothing to him; he rightly saw Jane as much superior.

These gripping, fundamental themes give this novel its enduring power and stature in the minds of its readers, thus making the reading of it a totally unforgettable experience! Thus, we have many, many editions of it in the English language alone, as well as many more in other languages. 

In spite of the bittersweet ending -- in my opinion, Brontë was a bit overzealous in achieving Rochester's eventual redemption -- I am happy that, after the storm had passed, she resolved everything to my romantic heart's content! Jane Eyre has always been and will always be my favorite classic of all time, and I know there will be more re-readings for me in the future!

MY RATING:      



(from Goodreads)

 Charlotte Brontë was a British novelist, the eldest out of the three famous Brontë sisters whose novels have become standards of English literature. See also Emily Brontë and Anne Brontë.

Charlotte Brontë was born in Thornton, Yorkshire, England, the third of six children, to Patrick Brontë (formerly "Patrick Brunty"), an Irish Anglican clergyman, and his wife, Maria Branwell.

(from Wikipedia)

 She published her best known novel, Jane Eyre, under the pen name Currer Bell.

 Charlotte's first manuscript, The Professor, did not secure a publisher, although she was heartened by an encouraging response from Smith, Elder & Co. of Cornhill, who expressed an interest in any longer works Currer Bell might wish to send.   Charlotte responded by finishing and sending a second manuscript in August, 1847. Six weeks later Jane Eyre: An Autobiography was published. It tells the story of a plain governess, Jane, who, after difficulties in her early life, falls in love with her employer, Mr Rochester.

Other Fiction Works

The Foundling: A Tale of Our Own Times, by Captain Tree, 1830
The Green Dwarf: A Tale of the
Perfect Tense, 1830
Shirley, 1849
Villette, 1853
The Professor, 1857 
Emma, 1860
(unfinished, pub. posthumously)


Poems, by Currer, Ellis, and
Acton Bell, 1846

Online Links