I have a confession to make. I’ve never read anything by the Brontë sisters. That’s right. I’ve never read Jane Eyre, nor have I read Wuthering Heights or The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I feel a fair amount of guilt about this.
Why have I not read some of the greatest novels ever written? How could I, a reader, a student of English Literature–and a feminist besides–not have read anything by the Brontës?
How have I missed quotes like these?
The truth is…
The truth is, I missed reading the books in high school and college through happenstance. Why don’t I read them now? Because I choose to read literature with as few triggers as possible. And as wonderful as these books are, you have to admit they are full of triggers. Abusive husbands, abandoned children, mental illness and mistreatment. Goodness!
So when I came upon a clip from the 2011 film adaptation of Jane Eyre, I was nervous. In fact, the first time I tried to watch it I had to turn it off shortly after I began it. However, YouTube being the wonderful thing that it is, I was recently able to watch the best of the movie, while avoiding the sad/terrible bits.
Let me just say, I can now understand why people love this story so very much. Dear me, the passion that exists between these two characters is breathtaking. It drew me in immediately. As a modern viewer, it’s heartbreaking to watch Rochester struggle with a problem that would be easily rectified in our times. Well, more easily rectified at least.
“It’s you. You rare unearthly thing.”
Also, let’s not forget the power of the actors themselves. I know the above quote is not pure Brontë, but the way Michael Fassbender delivers this line is swoon worthy. Add to that the way Mia Wasikowska embodies Jane Eyre, and you have magic.
It’s enough to make me want to read the book, despite the pain represented within. So perhaps one day soon I will join the ranks of Brontë devotees. Or I might just remain on the sidelines, happily watching Michael Fassbender.