Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Enter Mr Rochester

The first thing he does is fall off his horse. It's a Don Quixote moment. In the movie- as I remember- it's the apparition of Jane in the darkening lane that makes the horse shy and rear. Ooh gothick!. In the book the horse trots past Jane without incident, then slips on ice. Bump, He comes off. And swears a lot.

Bronte knows how to mix it up. A romantic setting, twilight, the rising moon, intimations of the supernatural. is the dog a gytrash? is the horse a gytrash? Then whoopsadaisy-  there's a man down. Is he badly hurt? Naah, it's just a sprain. .

Bronte breaks down even as she builds up. She adores the gothick. She thinks the gothick is silly. She blends gothickism and silliness into a smooth even paste.

Mr Rochester takes the book over. It used to be Jane's book; now it's his. He lounges and declaims- with his foot up on a stool because of the sprain.  He's very romantic, very Yorkshire- half Lord Byron, half Geoff Boycott. He balloons with magnificently wordy self-contempt- and cool Jane slips under his guard with a hat-pin. No wonder he falls in love.

One expects a Victorian novelist to be coy. I don't know why but it's a prejudice we've been encouraged in. Some of them are coy- Dickens for instance; he never saw a prossie he couldn't find a euphemism for. He hates the evangelicals but he's been infected with their cant. Bronte ain't that way; she grew up in a vicarage so she's worldly-wise; she calls a French mistress a French mistress and no beating about the bush. The story of Rochester's Parisian amour is as tough minded as anything in Balzac. She's frank, she's sensual, she's withering. She has none of the Victorian whimsy about children either. Adele is nothing special, not very bright. If it were now she'd be dressing up as a Disney princess. The child is mother to the woman- nice kid; don't expect too much of her; her Daddy certainly doesn't. If this was Dickens (again) Rochester would be in awful trouble for this attitude of his. Bronte and Jane are far too sensible for that.

Here comes the madwoman. Demonic laughter at the keyhole. So far so ghastly. Now Mr Rochester is on fire! O no! So Jane puts him out with a jug full of water.  Mr Darcy wet shirt moment! Mr Rochester forbids Jane to look. Does he have a boner? "Don't leave me Jane". "Sorry but I have to." Firm manly handshake. Oh, but this is wonderful stuff.....
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.