|Joan Fontaine - perhaps long in the tooth |
for the role, at 27, but capturing the
essenceof our heroine in the 1944 classic
Rochester courts a local beauty, a Blanche Ingram, bringing her to the house with a gay party of the very rich and distinguished. She is on the lookout for a rich husband and does her best to entice Rochester. Jane particularly dislikes her particularly because of the demeaning manner in which she treats both Jane and Adele.
|Charlotte Gainsborough as Jane in Zeffirelli's 1996 version ...|
Jane encounters her old enemies, her Reed cousins - Georgiana, the dissipated beauty, and her sister Eliza, the mean spirited, acid tongued religious zealot - who loath both Jane and each other and are determined to separate once their mother has died (they do - one to glittering London to marry well and the other to a nunnery in France). They seem to represent two unpleasant extremes - the vacant society beauty who cares for no one and nothing but herself and the bitter, unsociable "old maid" who wraps herself in the garb of a devout Christian the better with which to spew disdain on other mere mortals.
Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you?...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 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.
The next day, the "madwoman in the attic" is revealed to all and suffice it to say that the marriage does not take place. Rochester's secret is revealed - in one of those melodramatic, impossible coincidences that mar this work. Aside from the element of horror introduced here with the appearance of Bertha, the lunatic, feral wife who resides in the attic, there are the sad circumstances of her family history. There is a suggestion that part of it might be attributed to her Creole background. This could easily necessitate a whole other essay on its own. The vitriol that Rochester hurls at Bertha and her family withers away the esteem I have for the character of Rochester. This of course is not Bronte's intention. His anguished explanation to Jane is meant to explain his futile attempt to conceal his first marriage and absolve him of being perceived as an evil, conniving philanderer. Still the ugliness of his response makes one flinch.
Jane, The Woman of Independence
|The latest incarnation of Jane, Mia Wasikowska, in the 2011 film...|
TV Series (1956) with Daphne Slater and Stanley Baker
There are film versions going back to 1910.