You Transfix Me Quite – Jane Eyre and Vampires
Charlotte Bronte was brilliant. She created magic in a tough and most amazing woman named Jayne Eyre.
Jane Eyre does not seek a man to rescue her. She doesn’t seek him to complete her. She doesn’t look to silly romance to make her life perfect.
Jane is real. She is smart. She is tough. And in her soul of souls Jane Eyre doesn’t take shit from anyone.
I love Jane Eyre.
The book came out I believe in 1847. My mother brought a copy of it out to California with her during the California Gold Rush. I read the well-worn copy when I was 13. It took my breath away.
If only Jane had been a Vampire I thought when I first read it. I imagined her taking care of her nasty relatives in a most creative and horrible way, draining the blood from the people at that horrible school, then she’d do away with the crazy woman in the attic. But then again, no Vampire girl I knew would do that sort of thing or leave their child in the hands of such harsh people. But then I thought about it again, in my 13 year old mind. Jane was a woman who owned her own soul. She didn’t need a man to make her happy. She didn’t need anything. Yet she knew what love was more than Juliet (of Romeo and Juliet). She knew the fire and passion that only a soul on fire could know. It wasn’t the flash of young love and innocence. It wasn’t the passion of lust. It was a slow simmering burn mixed with that fire of understanding that becomes an everlasting flame that defies all reason yet is reason itself.
You all know the story. Jane is an orphan, she is despised by her family who wants her wealth (which she knows nothing of), she is sent to the boarding school from hell, then off to be a governess where she meets Mr. Rochester whom she falls in love with body, mind and soul. But he has a crazy wife so she leaves him on the altar and runs. She ends up being taken in by a rather dull minister with a passion only for God, so Jane goes back to Rochester, who is now blind, but not their love.
I pulled a few quotes:
“No sight so sad as that of a naughty child,” he began, “especially a naughty little girl. Do you know where the wicked go after death?”
“They go to hell,” was my ready and orthodox answer.
“And what is hell? Can you tell me that?”
“A pit full of fire.”
“And should you like to fall into that pit, and to be burning there for ever?”
“What must you do to avoid it?”
I deliberated a moment: my answer, when it did come was objectionable: “I must keep in good health and not die.”
“I can live alone, if self-respect, and circumstances require me so to do. I need not sell my soul to buy bliss. I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld, or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give.”
“It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquillity: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it. Millions are condemned to a stiller doom than mine, and millions are in silent revolt against their lot. Nobody knows how many rebellions besides political rebellions ferment in the masses of life which people earth. Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, to absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.”
“Never,” said he, as he ground his teeth, “never was anything at once
so frail and so indomitable. A mere reed she feels in my hand!” (And he
shook me with the force of his hold.) “I could bend her with my finger
and thumb: and what good would it do if I bent, if I uptore, if I crushed
her? Consider that eye: consider the resolute, wild, free thing looking
out of it, defying me, with more than courage—with a stern triumph.
Whatever I do with its cage, I cannot get at it—the savage, beautiful
creature! If I tear, if I rend the slight prison, my outrage will only let the
captive loose. Conqueror I might be of the house; but the inmate would
escape to heaven before I could call myself possessor of its clay dwellingplace.
And it is you, spirit—with will and energy, and virtue and purity—
that I want: not alone your brittle frame. Of yourself you could
come with soft flight and nestle against my heart, if you would: seized
against your will, you will elude the grasp like an essence—you will vanish
ere I inhale your fragrance.”
“You transfix me quite.”
I remember a time when women could not vote. They were not allowed to own property. Colleges would not accept women. Women could not have an occupation of their choosing. They often could not even marry the man of their own choice. Jane Eyre made her own choices, even when it was just in her mind. She was her own woman.
And that is MY take on it. She would have been a Hell of a Vampire.
I usually have little good to say of movie adaptations of books but there are a few wonderful adaptations of Jane Eyre, a few ok ones and one really horrible one you need to avoid at ALL COST. My credit information and links are from Wikipedia.
- 2011: Jane Eyre, directed by Cary Fukunaga, starring Mia Wasikowska as Jane Eyre, Michael Fassbender as Rochester and Judy Dench as Mrs. Fairfax
- 2006: Jane Eyre. It was produced by the BBC and starred Toby Stephens as Mr. Rochester, Ruth Wilson as Jane, and Georgie Henley as Young Jane.
- 1944: Jane Eyre, with a screenplay by John Houseman and Aldous Huxley. It features Orson Welles as Mr. Rochester, Joan Fontaine as Jane, Agnes Moorehead as Mrs. Reed, Margaret O’Brien as Adele and Elizabeth Taylor as Helen Burns.
- 1996: Jane Eyre, directed by Franco Zeffirelli and starring William Hurt as Mr. Rochester, Charlotte Gainsbourg as Jane, Elle Macpherson as Blanche Ingram, Joan Plowright as Mrs. Fairfax, Anna Paquin as the young Jane, Fiona Shaw as Mrs. Reed and Geraldine Chaplin as Miss Scatcherd.
Horrible and you need to avoid it at all costs or werewolves will eat your soul:
- 1970: Jane Eyre, starring George C. Scott as Mr. Rochester and Susannah York as Jane. Never has a movie been so miscast and so poorly acted.
So once again thank you Charlotte Bronte and Jane Eyre for transfixing me and transporting me and letting me know that any woman, no matter what her background, could be strong, good and passionate!
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman