Speaking of Brontes

I am really enjoying the new Masterpiece Theatre miniseries of Jane Eyre, brought to us by the same director who made the intriguing (and popular) but necessarily insufficient "Bleak House" a year ago. The first half aired last weekend and now I wait in suspense for the more passionate and desperate second half this Sunday. Am I enjoying it only because of my fondness for Toby Stephens, who plays Rochester here? (I saw him many years ago as the ideal Coriolanus, set quite astutely in a roughly Napoleonic era, and have remained loyal ever since) I don't think so.

I also appreciate the attention to nuance that led them to include a scene which is usually disdained by TV and film versions of the novel: the scene in which an old fortune teller comes to the house to hold a mirror up to all the vain, rich ladies and, finally, to the impenetrable Jane herself. Now, [SPOILER ALERT for those of you who somehow were not forced to read "Jane Eyre" several times in the course of your education] this is a crucial moment in the plot, for the whole thing ends up being an elaborate (if playful) manipulation by the uncomfortably masterful Rochester, who is wildly frustrated by his inability to read Jane. What this new version leaves out is the most delightfully weird bit of the novel, which is sadly difficult to "stage:" the old fortune teller ("the Sibyl") is in fact Rochester himself, in drag. When he reveals himself (with the somewhat exhausted exclamation, "the play is played out."), they have a fascinating conversation (much of which made its way in some form into the scene in this new version) about how well he played his role. Great stuff.

One Response so far.

  1. Bybee says:

    Any production of Jane Eyre has me right there in the middle of the couch. Unfortunately, I haven't seen this one yet. The production of Bleak House only just made it to Korean TV a couple of months ago. It shouldn't be too long of a wait.

    I'm enjoying your blog. Thanks for writing to mine.

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