Jane Eyre: A favorite classic novel
Jane Eyre - a beautiful classic book
Don't you just love that part of the marriage ceremony when the celebrants ask if there is any good reason or just impediment why the happy couple should not be joined together? And are you like me in that you fleetingly and secretly hope that someone would pop out of the pews to yell 'yes'? (What fun that would be in a weird sort of way).
Well, that's what does happen in this classic novel.
Upbringing and early life
I think I was a young teenager when I first read this book and reading about the lead character's background and early life was powerful indeed. I thought that it was powerful fiction though. I didn't realize that yes, many girls had that sort of childhood in Charlotte Bronte's day and indeed, I later learned that some parts of the early section of the book were largely based on her own childhood.
A married man
I also didn't realize when I read the book when I was younger, that Charlotte Bronte had herself been in love with a married man. A woman's love for an unattainable man is a theme in Jane Eyre and in some of Charlotte's other writings. Nowadays, I read her work with care, wondering which other stories might be based on her own personal experiences rather than the imagination. It's an added dimension.
The ward, the wife, madness and blindness
People have often wondered about the writing of the Bronte sisters.
They lived and worked in a parsonage in a remote area of Yorkshire.
Yet Jane Eyre is not a gentle love story including as it does madness, cruelty, destruction and deception.
If you've only seen film or televised versions of the story,then I'd highly recommend that you read the book - and experience the enjoy the story exactly as it was intended to be.
You can see the film below and if you scroll further down the page, I've added a video of the trailer.
The book has been produced for stage and screen many times but none was as powerful as the film made in 1943. This classic is now available on DVD so can be watched at home at anytime. It's a great movie to watch when there's storm brewing outside. For me, Joan Fontaine and Orson Wells are THE best actors for the two leading roles.
Although they are from very different eras, Jane Eyre is often compared to Rebecca. Both have a feeling of 'gothic' horror and both have the common bond of an absent wife who creates problems for the younger woman in the book.
Was Daphne du Maurier influenced by Jane Eyre when she wrote Rebecca?
The Bronte novel has always been linked with Daphne du Maurier's 'Rebecca' to me and not just because both female characters are played by Joan Fontaine (surely that is just a coincidence?) Both books / films have similar characters in common, plus the 'presence' of a former wife.
If you've seen the film, I strongly recommend the book too. In the film, the ending of the book was altered but the REAL ending, that in the novel, is far more powerful.
Also I'm of the firm belief that Mrs Danvers is one of the creepiest fictional characters ever. She is also seen by many as a lesbian character because of her overpowering devotion to Rebecca.
Similarities between Jane Eyre and Rebecca
Daphne du Maurier, we can safely assume, was fully familiar with Jane Eyre. It's always difficult to determine where an author's influences lie but the similarities are often pointed out by reviewers and critics.
This is to take nothing away from the author or Rebecca in the slightest - we are all influenced in some way by everything we have absorbed in our lifetimes. These comments do not imply that there is any sort of plagiarism; influences are everywhere and writers, artists and musicians often allow their past influences to determine the direction of their work.
However, it is always interesting to compare works which may have had their roots in another work.
I'd strongly recommend that the two books should be read and compared. Let me know in the comments below if you see any similarities.
© 2013 Jackie Jackson