Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Bronte Sisters Take Popular Culture By Storm... Again

Yes, I'm seriously excited about this one! There is yet another film version of Charlotte Bronte's famous Jane Eyre coming out in 2011 and I, for one, will be anxious to see this newest version.  Surprisingly, it has been over two years ago that I reviewed the newer BBC version of Jane Eyre and really enjoyed it.  However, with a cast that includes such grand actors as Judy Dench, I have high hopes for this film coming out in the spring.

It does seem that everywhere we look authors are either discussing, rewriting, or filming versions of the classics we read in school.  Today I teach those classics and am amazed by the foot dragging that goes along with these reading assignments!  You would think that although old, that students would want to be part of the dialogue and to know more about some of these famous works.  Right?  Wrong.  They are pretty hesitant to read classics on their own, and unless the reading "type," even less likely to admit to liking a classic to their classmates unless they feel like they really got it.  Sometimes, this is actually where a well-made film adaptation or modernization can at least help my students to understand what they've read--after they've read it.

The Bronte sisters seem to be entering into our current craze for remakes and adaptations of famous classics.  As one example of the buzz surrounding Jane Eyre, it's hard to miss the new YA novel Jane, by April Lindner, that is all the talk on the web.  Bloggers seem to scrambling to get their hands on this modernization of Bronte's famously tormented governess, now working for a rock star.  I'll admit that I have my own copy on hold at my local library, and I am anxiously waiting to get my hands on it to give it a go.  Jane Austen seems to now have company in the book and movie field, adding to our love of period pieces and classical literature that we love to read and watch.  Maybe my students would enjoy this more?  Yes, I'm sure they would, but they really need to read the original to get the comparison!

To add a little more depth to this conversation, I noticed this past week that Meg Cabot posted on her Twitter page a query about Jane Eyre vs. Wuthering Heights readers/fans.  Supposedly, this was all spurred on by an article in the Guardian titled, "How the Bronte's Divide Humanity."  Considering the title, it is an obvious argument between readers who enjoy the Heathcliff & Cathy drama, versus those who lean more towards the Mr. Rochester and Jane tale.  According to the article, her theory states:
...everyone who's read both Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights is passionately devoted to one book but nose-holdingly repelled by the other. If you want to be particularly contentious, you can divide those who satisfy the basic entry criteria into two types – those drawn to demure, bookish Miss Eyre and those for whom the pyrotechnical hanky-panky between Cathy Earnshaw and black-browed Heathcliff is paramount – and call them Librarians and Rock Stars.
As for myself, I suppose I'm a librarian, since I am much more drawn to "demure" Miss Eyre over maniacal Cathy of Wuthering Heights (which I had to read FIVE times as an undergrad English major).  I'll admit to being drawn to the quasi-happy ending of Jane Eyre, while being disturbed by the cruelty between the "lovers" in Wuthering Heights.  I suppose I needed Heathcliff and Cathy though, to shake some of my romantic immaturity away with their cruel jabs at one another!

Regardless of your own leanings, the Bronte's have left a definite impression on readers that continues to spark discussions today.  Spin offs, modernizations, and remakes will likely continue as long as their stories are pertinent and connect to us in some way.   For my own part, I'll definitely be trekking off to see this newest film in the spring, and probably offering my AP students some extra credit for viewing it as well.  (Won't they be happy campers!?!)

What do you think?  Are you a Cathy or a Jane Eyre fan, and will you be going to see this newest version of the film?


  1. Jane all the way!!! Can't wait to see the new movie.

  2. I love JANE EYRE, but I wasn't wild about April Lindner's version. It was okay, it just lacked the charm of the original.

    Oooh, can't wait for the new film!

  3. Ooh good thing I already promised myself I'd read Jane Eyre by the end of this year! Wuthering Heights is one of my favorite books, though, so I hope that doesn't apply to me where I'm going to really dislike Jane Eyre!

  4. I do love Jane Eyre--can't wait for the movie. In the meantime, I might have to give YA another try with this one.

  5. Jane all the way! I hated Wuthering Heights with a passion. I'm currently reading The Taste of Sorrow by Jude Morgan, which is about the sisters' lives, so I'm very much in the mood for all things Brontë.

  6. PLEASE don't let your students read Jane before Jane Eyre! Although I did enjoy Jane a lot, I think it would be a shame to read it before the original--which is soooo much better--and have the whole plot spoiled.

    Jane Eyre is my favorite book of all times. I never got into Wuthering Heights, although I thought for sure I would. I think that had more to do with the way the story was told, though--with Jane Eyre, we get everything from her perspective and it's a very personal story, almost like a diary. With Wuthering Heights, it's told by a visitor who hears it from a housekeeper--and I think there's a third narrator in there, too (?). Strangely, I tend to like movie adaptations of WH more than JE adaptions.

  7. Wow the title and the tag line caught my eye. :)

  8. I just posted the trailer for this. I'm also excited! I need to read the book before I see it. :D I'm also excited cast wise especially Mia Wasikowska as Jane.

  9. Chris & Susan--Yes for Jane. I'm interested in both the film and the YA book that has come out!

    Jenny--I wouldn't worry about the whole bit about differences between these two books. I just hope you enjoy Jane Eyre! :)

    Lisa & Nymeth--I'm a Jane fan too! It is interesting to me though how many variations they've filmed of this book. Nymeth, I'll have to try out that Morgan book! Thanks for the recommendation.

    Heidenkind--Oh, don't worry! I won't be having my students get near Jane before they read the real thing. :) I haven't read it yet, but I always recommend the real thing before a variation or a film version. It's interesting though that you like Wutherig Heights films more. I'm curious why?

    Kaye & MillyMarie--Great stuff eh? I'm excited too!