Book Vs. Film: Jane Eyre

I hate the term “classic.” It’s insane for one group of people to declare that certain films and novels will forever be masterpieces. Why shove clunky books down poor schoolchildren’s throats and proclaim certain films are “must-sees” to any film buff? If a piece of art is so special and great, shouldn’t it be able to stand and thrive on its own without people constantly shoving it forward? Though critics, professors, and misguided viewers and readers like to toss around the word “classic” too, why is one major entity – schools – stating what should be classic for the entire world? You HAD to read To Kill a Mockingbird in 9th grade; any serious movie buff HAS to see Psycho or Taxi Driver or Citizen Kane, etc. Alice in Wonderland, Pride and Prejudice,The Great Gatsby, even children’s books are stamped as classics. Where the Wild Things Are is probably one of the worst kid’s books I’ve read – but since a bunch of people said, “CLASSIC!”, people go out in droves and buy the book or film or any piece of art declared as a beloved classic.

Perhaps these novels and movies were magnificent for a different era – the current generation is to produce new “classics”, not artistry that has died (or should have died) a long time ago. Because someone does something first does not make it wonderful, especially if a host of other people did it entirely better.

So why in the world did I read Jane Eyre?

Other than it was free on my Nook and, (listen here) REQUIRED reading for school, I didn’t want to.

“But Alley, was it good, overrated, masterful? Does it deserve to be called a “classic”?”

In short: Yes. And no.

But let’s take it slow: what does Jane Eyre do right? For one, the strong willed heroine Charlotte Bronte presents is a breath of fresh air – even for the 21st century. Jane does not  take any stuff – blunt honesty and strong spirits is the name of her game. It might be more normal to see the ‘strong woman’ type in entertainment today, but this well-rounded female character is essential for women for any era. The writing is absolutely enthralling – Bronte chooses words that zooms the reader right into the scene. The characterization and diction is wonderful, a symphony of gorgeous words.

Wow, that was quick. Now for the bad…

Honest to God, though the writing is pretty, at least half of this novel could have been chopped off, two-hundred pages at minimum. SO MUCH of it is unnecessary purple prose – grandiose descriptions already detailed in the before paragraph. This is not setting up a scene – this is overindulgence to the max. Bronte also gives a typical, ‘happily-ever after’ story in Jane Eyre. It’s not deserving of a detailed synopsis, so here’s the rundown: poor girl an orphan in a rich family; poor girl a governess to a rich master; poor girl wife to rich master; poor girl just poor and homeless; poor girl suddenly made rich girl; rich girl marries rich master.

Isn’t it wonderful?!

The relationship between Jane and Mr. Rochester is sweet, touching, then BAM!, almost verging on a saccharine mess. Throw in some contrived plot devices and you have a “classic.”

But perhaps we’ve learned a lesson here. What may be good for you, may be horrible for another. Only the person can decide what’s “classic” for themselves.

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My, oh my. Does this movie have it all… Rushed pace, unneeded scenes, important scenes given the ax, and since we’re in England…Judi Dench!

Pretty cinematography cannot save this movie. Is it a dark thriller, a romance, a character study, etc.? Because this film doesn’t balance the three elements well like it’s source novel does.

Just, no.

☆☆