10.15.2006

I like them better tortured

I just finished watching episode 4 of the new BBC Jane Eyre series. And, first things first, I loved it. It manages to be thrillingly romantic without having a too modernised Jane, all but the first episodes made me cry, and all in all I agree with most of the deviations from the book, especially how they handled the tricky scene from the book in which Rochester dresses up as an old fortuneteller gypsy. I also thought the casting was note perfect: Ruth Wilson is sensuous and passionate yet also believable as a literal "plain jane", and Rochester, well, Rochester, he might have been just a touch too pretty but he was burly and gruff enough to make up for it. Enough for me to get my panties in a bunch, in any case.

But let's talk about those panties. See, I think I have a small problem. I loved the early scenes of him drawing her out. I loved the scenes in which she is so obviously clueless to his intentions, misinterpreting everything he says. The proposal scene: wonderful. The wedding preparations and short span of hopeful bliss? Interesting only because I knew what was coming.

Same thing afterwards. The flashback scenes in episode four of Rochester trying to tempt Jane to stay? Almost unbearably sexy. Yet everything after they find each other again, especially the final scene with Rochester with a baby in his arms and a beatific smile on his face? Somehow disappointing.

Ok, ok, I should say something positive: thank God they left the miraculous recovery of sight out, something that always bothered me in the book. But my criticism is, in fact, not so much a criticism of the book or the series, but more a problem I'm discovering with myself. I'm generally a happy kind of person. Glass half-full, rather than half-empty. I mean, I might not be looking for a long-term relationship at the moment, but I'm sure at some point it'll be nice. So why do I like my romances better doomed?

It's not just me of course. Just look at the list of favorite romance books and films. Romeo and Juliet. Yeah, I hope I'm not spoiling this for anyone, but they kinda end up dead. Tristan and Isolde: it depends on the versions, but basically same thing. Want to go further back? Take Pyramus and Thisbe. More modern? Take Love Story. An Affair to Remember. Titanic. Brokeback Mountain.

So yeah, then someone can raise a finger, and annoyingly, say, what about Eliza and Mr. Darcy? What about Harry and Sally? And, ehm, didn't Jane Eyre, at the end, write "Reader, I married him"?

Ok, so yes, back to me. What makes me a Bronteite rather than and Austenite, to put it that way (and to make sure I am, I am currently downloading the 1939 version of Wuthering Heights)? Make no mistake, I like Jane Austen, admire her wit and clear eye for social interactions, but in the end, I'm less drawn in. I think Elisabeth Bennet is a wonderful character, one I would personally be like much more than I would want to resemble Jane Eyre, who is, in the end, just a little too puranitanical (in other words, I probably would not have been able to, or even wanted to, resist living in sin with Mr. Rochester all that much). But the gothic world in which Jane Eyre lives seems so much more alive than Austen's world, which seems to consist solely of social visits that last for months. So much more thrilling.

In my dreams tonight, I'll be walking the wild marches. I'll (hopefully) meet a man with dark, wild eyes. But does that have to mean I'll never be happy calm and peaceful with a nice guy?

1 comment:

Lanchka said...

Hey, if you see BBC's adaptation of Wide Sargasso Sea, can you write a review. I really want to see it but don't expect to get the chance until it comes out on DVD.