Tag Archives: Edward Rochester

Why I Re-Read Wide Sargasso Sea

Today I re-read Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys.

A prequel to Jane Eyre, it was published in the 1930’s. Taking place years before Jane Eyre meets Edward Rochester, the focus of the book is Antoinette Cosway, who is known to readers of Jane Eyre as Bertha Rochester, Mr. Rochester’s mad first wife. Antoinette Cosway and Edward Rochester are equally sold in the name of marriage. She is an heiress and he is a younger son in need of a wealthy wife.

What starts out as a story of young love turns into a story of vengeance, hate, mental illness and male power. If Bertha Rochester was Charlotte Bronte’s inner scream against the constraints that women were kept in during the 19th century, then Antoinette Cosway enlarges and opens up that inner scream.

I re-read Wide Sargasso Sea not only because today is National Book Lovers Day, but because the book publicly exposes the double standard that women have become the norm for women over the centuries.

Today I re-read Wide Sargasso Sea.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Charlotte Bronte, Feminism, Jane Eyre, Why I Re-Read

Mr. Rochester Book Review

Readers of Charlotte Bronte’s immortal book, Jane Eyre have been in love with her leading man, Edward Rochester for more a century. One moment he is brooding, Byronic and mysterious. The next moment he is vulnerable and open in his feelings about Jane. But Jane Eyre is told through Jane’s perspective and we only see Mr. Rochester through her eyes.

Sarah Shoemaker’s new novel, Mr. Rochester, is a first person account of the events in Jane Eyre as told from the perspective of Edward Rochester. The readers first meets Edward Rochester as an eight year old boy. His mother died in childbirth, his father is emotionally distant and his elder brother, Rowland is not above hitting or verbally abusing Edward. Sent to school and then to work in the office of a factory, he grows up, slowly becomes the man who Jane meets on that cold wintry night on the road to Thornfield.

I really liked this book. What I liked about it was that Ms. Shoemaker rose to the very daunting task of re-creating the world of Jane Eyre while putting her own spin on the cannon narrative of the novel. The challenge for any writer re-writing a beloved novel is to write the story that not only feels right to them, but also easily exists within the world of the original novel. While some writers try and unfortunately fail in this quest, Ms. Shoemaker succeeds.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Downton Abbey Series 6 Episode 3 Recap: Introducing Mr. And Mrs. Carson, Tom And Sybbie Return And (Hopefully) Baby Bates

*As usual, these recaps contain spoilers. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the episode.

Upstairs

  • Edith reunites with Bertie Pelham (Harry Hadden-Paton). Viewers met Bertie briefly at the end of the last series when he was staying with Rose’s (Lily James), in-laws, Lord and Lady Sinderby. Bertie asks Edith to meet him for a drink. When Edith has to pull an all-nighter because she has a deadline and her unruly editor is out of the picture (thanks to Edith finally firing him), Bertie offers to help Edith and her assistant, Audrey (Victoria Emslie) complete the manuscript to be sent to the publisher the next morning. This guy is a keeper. He is not old enough to be her father and is not the 1920’s equivalent of Edward Rochester. Whatever you do, Edith, this guy is a catch. Do not let him go.
  • Tom (Allen Leech) and Sybbie (Fifi Hart) return. But of course, they make their entrance during the newly minted Mr. and Mrs. Carson’s (Jim Carter and Phyllis Logan) wedding breakfast. At least they are back and back for good.
  • Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) disagree on the wedding celebration. Mary calls her mother a snob.
  • Robert (Hugh Bonneville) is again caught between his wife and his mother about the hospital. The disagreement between Isobel  (Penelope Wilton) and Violet (Maggie Smith) is becoming a bit too vicious as evidenced by Isobel’s below the belt comment to Dr. Clarkson (David Robb). Isobel later apologizes, but the battle lines are drawn.

Downstairs 

  • Mrs. Hughes has decided what she wants to wear on her big day, but wishes she had something else a bit nicer. Anna (Joanne Froggatt) and Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicols) conspire to create something nice for her. But before her wedding, Anna, Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore are caught by Cora in her room trying on a jacket. Not in the mood to deal with anyone or anything, Cora snaps, but later apologizes.
  • Anna thinks she is pregnant, but does not tell anyone other than Mary. Not even her husband, Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle) knows.
  • After her blunder in the first episode and the news that Yew Tree farm will soon be empty, Daisy (Sophie McShera) asks Cora about her father in law moving in.  Cora does not have the heart to tell the girl that the idea is still a little too pie in the sky.
  • Seeing his own past in Daisy, Molesley (Kevin Doyle) encourages her to move with her education with Baxter (Raquel Cassidy) is included on the plans for Mrs. Hughes wedding dress.
  • In the Dowager house, a little secret is revealed about Spratt (Jeremy Swift). His nephew has a police record. Miss Denker (Sue Johnston), swears she can keep a secret.
  • Thomas has another job interview. The only issue is that the house is empty, with the exception of the elderly owner and a part-time house keeper. I think Thomas better pass on this one.

Overall

This episode was certainly more exciting than the last episode. I loved that Edith has finally found a life outside of Downton.

Dowager Quote Of The Week

On Lord Merton (Douglas Reith) being on Team Isobel about the hospital “A peer in favor of reform? It’s like a turkey in favor of Christmas,”.

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Filed under Charlotte Bronte, Downton Abbey, Jane Eyre, Television, TV Recap

You Might Be A Bronte Fan If…..

You might be a Bronte Fan if…..

  • You own and/or have seen several filmed adaptations of the novels.
  • You own and or/have read all of their novels.
  • You own and/or have read biographies or fictional stories based on the lives of the Brontes.
  • You  are annoyed when Charlotte and Emily are mentioned, but Anne is not.
  • If you are a straight female or a gay man, you fantasize about Edward Rochester or Heathcliff.
  • Visiting Haworth, the Bronte Parsonage, Haddon Hall, and/or the Moors is on your travel bucket list.
  • You mourn over dead leaves.
  • You follow the careers of the actors who have played Bronte characters, even if some of their post-Bronte choice of roles were questionable.
  • You can easily rank your favorite adaptations of the novels and the actors who played the various characters.
  • You saw the Jane Eyre musical.

  • Your annoyed when people confuse any of Brontes with Jane Austen. Jane Austen is not the sequel or the prequel to Jane Eyre.
  • You side with Emily Bronte in the debate about who is a better writer.

  • You were thrilled when you assigned to read one of the novels in school.
  • And finally, every time you finish one of their novels, you silently thank them for being bold enough to share their genius with the rest of the world.

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Filed under Anne Bronte, Books, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Jane Austen, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, You Might Be A Fan If....

Wide Sargasso Sea Book And Movie Review

Fanfiction can be defined as fiction written by a fan of, and featuring characters from, a particular TV series, movie, etc.

While some might think that this is a new concept with the age of the internet and social media, fanfiction is a much older genre than some might presume.

Wide Sargasso Sea, written in 1966 by Jean Rhys, is a prequel to Charlotte Bronte’s literary masterpiece, Jane Eyre.

The novel is the story of Antoinette Cosway, a heiress who is creole by birth and living on a plantation whose glory days are long gone. When she grows up, she is married off an an Englishman, Edward Rochester who removes her from her island home and takes her to his gloomy isolated, Yorkshire estate to live. This is a story about madness, lust, greed and how women cope when they have no power to control their own lives.

The most recent film adaptation of this book was made in 2006 with  Rebecca Hall as Antoinette and Rafe Spall as Edward.

What I enjoy about both the book and movie is that we are introduced to a character whose story we only know one side of. In Jane Eyre, Bertha Rochester is Edward’s secret wife, suffering from madness. Her only companion is a paid servant. In Wide Sargasso Sea, we meet Antoinette and we see the story from her point of view. We see the injustice not just being a woman in that era, but being a woman of mixed race in that era.

I recommend both.

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Jane Eyre 1973 Vs Jane Eyre 2006 Vs Jane Eyre 2011

If one were to judge Jane Eyre simply by her early life, one might say that she is doomed to be unlucky and unhappy. Jane is orphaned as a baby and raised in her deceased uncle’s home by an aunt who despises her. At the age of ten, she is taken to Lowood school, a charity school where the students are receiving subpar treatment. Eight years later, Jane leaves Lowood to work for the enigmatic and mysterious Mr. Rochester as the governess for his ward, Adele.

Charlotte Bronte’s classic 1847 novel has been remade on screen multiple times over the years. In this post, I’m going to write about my favorite Jane Eyre adaptations and let you decide which among the three is your favorite. The criteria for comparison remain as is:

  1. How closely the screenplay mirrors the novel.
  2. The chemistry between the actors, especially the potential love interests.
  3. The age of the actors, if they are close enough in age to the character to be believable in the part.
  4. If the locations chosen to film resemble the scenes from the book.

Jane Eyre 1973

Cast: Jane Eyre (Sorcha Cusack), Mr. Rochester (Michael Jayston)

  • Pro’s: This TV adaption is the truest of any of the filmed adaptations. It’s as if Charlotte Bronte was somehow in the room with the production team. It is flawless, the actors are perfect in their parts. In short, I have nothing but praise for this adaptation.
  • Cons: The only con that I can think of is that it is 41 years old. It looks 41 years old.

 Jane Eyre 2006

Cast: Jane Eyre (Ruth Wilson), Mr. Rochester (Toby Stephens)

  • Pro’s: Another flawless production. Sandy Welch’s screen play mirrors the novel. Wilson and Stephens have it, whatever it is, that actors have when they are playing certain characters.  They are on fire on screen. The viewer (especially this viewer) has the feeling that when this mini-series is over, Jane and Edward will have a very happy life together, in and out of the bedroom.
  • Cons: None.

Jane Eyre 2011

Cast: Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska), Edward Rochester (Michael Fassbender)

  • Pro’s: Director Cary Fukanaga and screenwriter Moira Buffini take an unorthodox approach to story telling. The movie starts half way through the novel, after Jane has left Thornfield.  The casting of Wasikowska and Fassbender was a brilliant choice. Both age appropriate, they are perfectly cast in their parts.
  • Cons: It is a movie vs. a mini-series, so not everything from the book got into the movie. But I’m pretty satisfied with this adaptation.

And the winner is…..I’ll let you decide.

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My Favorite Jane Austen Adaptations

Adapting a book into a performable format is complicated. It has to be true to the original novel and please the fans while appealing to the entire audience, not just the hard core fan base.

I am a Janeite. As one might be able to guess my personal library and DVD collection contains a fair amount of Jane Austen related materials.

I would to share my top three favorite Jane Austen adaptations and why these three films should be viewed as templates for any writer or filmmaker looking to adapt a book.

My criteria is the following:

1. The actors have to look the part. The chemistry has to be there. Otherwise it all falls apart. (Yes, I am looking at you, 1996 Jane Eyre. William Hurt was too old for the part of Edward Rochester and had zero chemistry with Charlotte Gainsbourg).

2. The set has to look right. Every reader has their own idea of what the setting looks like, but it has to like right.

3.  It MUST follow the book as much as possible.

That being said, here my favorite Jane Austen Adaptations

3. 1995 Sense and Sensibility

Directed by Ang Lee and written by Emma Thompson  (who also played the lead role of Elinor Dashwood), this adaptation is beautiful.

Joining Emma Thompson is Kate Winslet as Marianne Dashwood, Hugh Grant as Edward Ferrars and Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon.

Putting aside the fact that Emma Thompson was a generation older than her character and played Elinor as if she was in her late 20’s, I have no complaints about this adaptation. I’ve read that some people didn’t think that Hugh Grant was the right actor to play Edward, but Edward Ferrars is a bit of a controversial character within Jane Austen fiction. I personally think that Dan Stevens was a better Edward, but to each their own.

2. 1995 Persuasion 

Persuasion is the last of Austen’s completed novels. It has an Autumnal feeling, sad and sweet. As if she knew deep down that this would be her last completed work.

Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds play the two leads, Anne Elliot and Captain Frederick Wentworth. The chemistry between them is palpable.  They are both age appropriate and look like they have experienced a bit of life.

It’s lush, it’s beautiful and as with the novel, when you think that second chances don’t happen, they do happen. So does the happiness that you thought was lost forever.

1. 1995 Pride And Prejudice

You knew this was obvious. This is the one where Colin Firth in clingy pants strips down to his knickers and white shirt and dives into the lake.

Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle have some of the best on screen chemistry that I have ever seen. While I am sure they both would like the audience to look at their entire body of work and  not just this particular performance, there is no denying that whatever it is that make actors look good together on screen, they have it.

The supporting cast works. The filmmakers crossed their t’s and dotted their eyes with this production.  I still get shivers when I hear the theme song.

I recommend any of these films for any viewer or Janeite, whether they be a newbie or old fan.

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Filed under Emma, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice

Rubies

*-These characters are not mine, only belong to Miss Bronte.

 *-The first text in italics is the original text from Jane Eyre. The second is called Eshet Chayil or A Woman Of Valor. It’s a Hebrew prayer men sing to their wives on the Sabbath.

 *-Please review

 Rubies

“But I affirm that you are: so much depressed that a few more words would bring tears to your eyes — indeed, they are there now, shining and swimming; and a bead has slipped from the lash and fallen on to the flag. If I had time, and was not in mortal dread of some prating prig of a servant passing, I would know what all this means. Well, to-night I excuse you; but understand that so long as my visitors stay, I expect you to appear in the drawing-room every evening; it is my wish; don’t neglect it. Now go, and send Sophie for Adèle. Good-night, my” —- He stopped, bit his lip, and abruptly left me.

I watched her shadow disappear up the stairs and I knew that my plan was working.

I did not intend to hurt my Janet, only ensure that the love I had for her, she had for me.

They called her plain and poor; they mocked her openly. My Janet did not reveal the wounds they created, but I knew better. 

My Janet was worth more to me than any of them. Blanche Ingram could have had the dowry of the princess royal and I would prefer to remain a bachelor than be chained in matrimony to her.

All I wanted, all I saw was my Janet. I wanted to cover her in lace and silk, see her wearing the jewels that had been left to me by my mother.

On our wedding night, she would remove the pins that kept her hair up. I would kiss her tenderly; show her the true affection between husband and wife.

But she was unattainable to me, the one woman I wanted to call wife. The woman they would call my wife was a lunatic and I was her keeper.

I would find a way to marry my Janet, even if it meant deceiving the one woman I loved most in this world.

 “A woman of valor, who can find? Her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and nothing shall he lack. She renders him good and not evil all the days of her life. She opens her hand to the needy, and extends her hand to the poor. She is robed in strength and dignity, and cheerfully faces whatever may come. She opens her mouth with wisdom. Her tongue is guided by kindness. She tends to the affairs of her household, and eats not the bread of idleness. Her children come forward and bless her. Her husband too, and he praises her. Many women have done superbly, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a God-fearing woman is much to be praised. Place before her the fruit of her hands. Wherever people gather, her deeds speak her praise.”

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First Steps

*-Naturally, the only character that is mine is James. The rest lovingly belong to Charlotte Bronte.

 *-Reviews are always welcome.

 First Steps

Edward sighed, looking at the pile of papers sitting on the desk in front of him. At the moment, he had no patience for anything. But he knew that these were matters that had to be dealt with.

 Taking a shot of brandy, he hoped that a moments respite from his work might actually allow him to finish. He often observed his tenants; their lives seemed so much simpler than his own. They had no worries about paying employees, contracts or solicitors. They also did not have to deal with the partial loss of their sight, leaving him to rely on his wife when he could not deal with certain matters on his own.

 Then there was knock on the door.

 “Your son has a surprise for you” Jane said.

 His hands firmly wrapped into his mother’s, James took his first steps. After a few moments, Jane let him go. He didn’t travel very far before landing on the floor.

 “Papa” he grinned at his achievement, his smile revealing a partially toothy smile.

 Edward picked up his son, reveling in son’s achievement as the boy did. His son was walking. 

 “Papa, hungee”

 “What do you say?”.

 “Please” James asked in his own impish way.

 Jane started to reach for her son until her husband interjected.

 “Before you go, I wished to discuss something you”.

 “I’ll tell Sophie to start feeding him”.

 As if on cue, Sophie appeared and took James from his mother.

 “I was considering now that Adele is growing up, we should have her dowry set aside. Nothing too much, perhaps 5000 pounds”.

 “I think that is reasonable” Jane agreed.

 “And, how are you today, my dear?” Edward asked, focusing his attentions on his wife. His left roamed her growing abdomen. They would a second child by Christmas. The darkness and the secrets that had once shrouded Thornfield were being replaced by love and sounds of the newest generation of Rochesters.

 “I am well, Edward, there is no need to worry”.

 “The child?” he asked, the concern easily read on his face.

 “It is god’s hand, not our own” she tried to sooth his fears. This was not the first time his was over concerned for her health, his reaction to her first pregnancy was the same, love, anticipation, but also fear.

 “Younger women have died in childbirth” he could not fathom loosing her again, he had lost her once, of course he knew that was attributed to his own actions.  To loose her  would be a blow that would be impossible to recover from.

 “So have older women. The physician has confirmed that we are both in good health. I have given birth once, I can do it again”.

 He saw the warmth in her eyes and felt his worries disappear. She knew always knew what to say when his fears seemed to control him.

 Her hand grazed his cheek and for a moment, they were in their own world. The silence was broken by James’s wail when he Sophie feeding him was not what he wanted.

 Sighing, they both knew that this moment would have to be discontinued until later. Edward returned to his work and Jane return to their son. Watching his wife exit the room, he hoped that the day would end quickly and they could return to the moment when it was just the two of them.

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Dissapear

*-Of course I do not own either Jane Eyre or this fabulous song. I’m just borrowing both.

 *-Disappear By Hoobastank.

 *-Reviews are always welcome

 Disappear

he entered the room meekly, pointing Adele to the direction of his guests.

 He had watched her closely since their first encounter on the road.  This was not the first time he was in love, but this girl was different.  He knew it was wrong, that he would hurt her in the end. But he had to know if she felt the same way.

 There’s a pain that sleeps inside
It sleeps with just one eye

Despite his wealth and his status, Edward Fairfax Rochester was lonely. The heartache of the betrayal of his father and brother still stung as if was yesterday and not fifteen years ago.

 And awakens the moment that you leave

 She seemed to understand his pain, to sooth the demons that continued to plague him.

Though I try to look away

 He told himself to find a woman who suited his status, a woman like Blanche Igram.

The pain it still remains
Only leaving when you’re next to me

Do you know, that every time you’re near
Everybody else seems far away

 But no matter how he told himself to look away, to find a woman of his status, his heart returned to the one female he knew he could not have. Externally, Blanche Ingram was everything he should seek in a wife. But he knew she was cold and was only seeking him for his money and his status, a concept which he detested.

So can you come and make them disappear
Make them disappear and we can stay

So I stand and look around
Distracted by the sounds

The room was full, but he saw no one except her. She left the party as quietly as she entered, his footsteps echoing her own. Even in the darkness, he could see her pain, Lady Ingram’s remarks had hit their target.

  “How do you do?” he asked.

 “I am very well, sir.”

 “Why did you not come and speak to me in the room?”

 I thought I might have retorted the question on him who put it: but I would not take that freedom. I answered —

 “I did not wish to disturb you, as you seemed engaged, sir.”

 “What have you been doing during my absence?”

 “Nothing particular; teaching Adele as usual.”

 “And getting a good deal paler than you were — as I saw at first sight. What is the matter?”

 “Nothing at all, sir.”

 “Did you take any cold that night you half drowned me?”

 “Not the least.”

 “Return to the drawing-room: you are deserting too early.”

 “I am tired, sir.”

 He looked at her for a minute.

 “And a little depressed,” he said. “What about? Tell me.”

 “Nothing — nothing, sir. I am not depressed.”

 “But I affirm that you are: so much depressed that a few more words would bring tears to your eyes — indeed, they are there now, shining and swimming; and a bead has slipped from the lash and fallen on to the flag. If I had time, and was not in mortal dread of some prating prig of a servant passing, I would know what all this means. Well, to-night I excuse you; but understand that so long as my visitors stay, I expect you to appear in the drawing-room every evening; it is my wish; don’t neglect it. Now go, and send Sophie for Adele. Good-night, my — “He stopped, bit his lip, and abruptly left her.

 Of everyone and everything I see
And I search through every face
Without a single trace, of the person
The person that I need

She started to walk to her room and was surprised when instead of returning to the party, he followed her.

 “Mr. Rochester?” She asked, not expecting him to follow her.

 “Jane, I…” he stopped suddenly not knowing what to say.

 “Your company sir” she reminded him.

 “Do you think I give a whit about them, Jane?”.

 “I wouldn’t know, sir, I have never had any reason to have guests over”.

 He half smiled, that was his faerie, always to the point.

 “Edward…” Blanche Ingram’s voice drifted upstairs.

 “You should return to your guests and your bride sir”.

 “I am looking at her” he replied with a frankness that even surprised him.

 “Sir?”.

 “I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you–especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous channel, and two hundred miles or so of land come broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapt; and then I’ve a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly. As for you–you’d forget me”.

 “Do you think I am an automaton? — a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! — I have as much soul as you — and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal — as we are!”

 She suddenly burst out, a show of emotion he had not seen before and he knew that for certain that his love was not one sided.

Do you know, that every time you’re near
Everybody else seems far away
So can you come and make them disappear
Make them disappear and we can stay

Edward Fairfax Rochester was not a passionate man, at least to the casual observer.  But few knew the man under the cold, polite façade and that moment, he cared not for what others thought of him, only of the faerie who stood before him. He did the one thing he knew would shock them all and he didn’t care. He kissed her.

Can you make them disappear?
Make them disappear

 To his delight, she responded to his kiss with a warmth not even he had anticipated.

 “Let’s get married tonight, no one else will know”.

 “It is late sir; I doubt the vicar would be awake”

 That was his Jane, always thinking logically.

 “Then tomorrow”.

“Yes” she agreed.

 There’s a pain that sleeps inside
Sleeps with just one eye
And awakens, the moment that you leave
And I search through every face
Without a single trace, of the person
The person that I need

 He forgot everything that moment, the only thing that mattered was that he had found his true match.

Do you know, that every time you’re near
Everybody else seems far away
So can you come and make them disappear
Make them disappear and we can stay

 Then the image dissipated. He watched her walk up the stairs to her room and hearing the voices of his guests, despite his heart, returned to his company.

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