A Good Rochestering: Haikus for Jane Eyre’s Main Squeeze

Jun 10th, 2010 | By | Category: Columns, Eileen: This is Your Brain On...

There are two things you can count on in this world:

1) Ryan Reynolds will never return my phone calls, no matter how many different ways I disguise my voice.
2) The film/TV studios believe that the canon of literature contains only:  Jane Austen, Henry James, Dickens, a smattering of Mark Twain, a dash of George Eliot, two Brontë novels and a few other sad bastards lucky enough to catch the eye of a drunk producer as he/she wanders through Barnes and Nobles.

Orson emotes with his laser eyes.

While I could flail around with many reasons why other works would make great adaptations (Theodore Dreiser anyone?), I’d rather complain about the two billion versions of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. I’ve already reviewed two adaptations of Wuthering Heights–but there are many many more, proving that people love a good story about two selfish jerks who make everyone miserable (Romeo and Juliet a close second).

Jane Eyre, the best book ever written (The Bible and Bernstein Bears a close second), has suffered the same repetitive indignity. The story rarely changes (drab, dreary, with some rain) the locations always look the same (drab, dreary, with some rain), and the actresses who play Jane never quite get the spark that has made her such a beloved heroine. (Unless you’re counting Virginia Bruce in 1934’s Jane Eyre, which is more about laughter and hoop skirts. Who cares about correct literary interpretation? Let’s dance!)

However, the actors playing Mr. Rochester over these thousands of recurring years have managed to claw out some semblance of originality. Whether it’s from a dose of boyish charm (Toby Stephens), a mesmerizing grace (Orson Welles), or banked passion hidden behind the disease of Toogoodlookingness (Timothy Dalton), these dudes tried to make something new out of something that is as overdone as hamburgers at your blind grandmother’s yearly cookout.

Brontë scholars hope that Michael Fassbender's upcoming role as Rochester will feature strong characterization on par with the abs pictured above.

So if you are looking for a fresh, original take of Jane Eyre, you won’t find it! (However, the 1934 version is amusing for the sake of “has nothing to do with Jane Eyre except for the title and character names.” Oh, 1934, with your Austrian Civil War and Donald Duck, I love you!)

I guess what you need to do when in search for some Jane Eyre versatility, is to check out the (slightly) different presentations of Mr. Rochester, which I have compiled below in haiku form:

Jane Eyre
1934
Colin Clive

Adorable fop
Lock your wife in the attic
Then sing “tra-la-la!”

Jane Eyre
1944
Orson Welles

Grrrrr! Rawr! Boom! Sneer! Stare!
Give me another Oscar
The last one got broke

Jane Eyre
1970
George C. Scott

Sorry, what was that?
I choked on my own boredom
It happens sometimes

Jane Eyre
1983
Timothy Dalton

Handsome James Bond man
You do not fit this role but,
Just furrow your brow

Jane Eyre
1996
William Hurt

I’m more like your dad
but aren’t my sideburns so great?
Wardrobe can’t have them

Jane Eyre
1997
Ciaran Hinds

jane. Jane. Jane! Jane?! JANE!!!
I’m like a desperate school girl
with tourette’s and sweat

Jane Eyre
2006
Toby Stephens

Hello you dreamboat.
You really know how to mack.
Blind, with grabby hands

Jane Eyre
2011
Fassbender (AKA Michael Fassbender)

To be true to text
Naked push-ups must occur
Also some whipped cream

————
Eileen is a Jane Eyre aficionado. She’s even seen Jane Eyre: The Musical, but was disappointed there wasn’t more break dancing.

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