Sunday, April 3, 2016
Jane Eyre as serial killer
It's hard not to compare it to another Victorian Gothic retelling I read recently; Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, which weaved together real text from the Austen novel and sprinkled in zombies. Not enough zombies for me and the book didn't play that up enough somehow. It also had illustrations and I couldn't think who it would appeal to. For people who liked P&P the original, the plot had slight adjustments but didn't much stray from the original tale or tone and so you more or less were familiar with what was going to happen. For zombie fans, the formality of the language was probably off-putting. For feminists, it was pretty cool to read about young society ladies who were trained to be zombie slayers and whose main goal was not to marry, but to kill the undead. The other thing both books do is to stay close to the time period and tone of that time; they're not re-shaping the core story in modern times.
Jane Steele deals with the parallels by mentioning the original book throughout (quoting it at the beginning of every chapter), but also acknowledging that the character of Jane has read the novel and is fully aware of the irony of her life unfolding in similar ways (she's an outcast orphan, she is sent to a terrible boarding school, she works as a governess), so that acknowledgement felt skillfully handled. There's also things that are completely different, like the child is a horse-loving girl of Indian Descente, that the Rochester figure (named Charles Thornfield in this version. If you'll recall, the mansion in JE was Thornfield Hall) does not have a secrete wife, and then there's also a whole other story about a treasure chest of dolls covered in stolen jewels and the war in India that I didn't understand and care much about. The story may have other parallels that I didn't pick up on, since I haven't read Jane Éyre in 15 yeas and tend to confuse it with Wuthering Heights (I vaguely recall a character named Catherine, a lot of talk about the heath and the moors, an unhappy ending?).
Think how much time the write must have spent with the original, and how she had to decide how closely to adhere to certain plot lines o move away from them without completely wandering off the track. I should take advantage of this trend and find a novel that I loved as a kid and rewrite it to include vampires or where the genders are flipped. What book would that be? Not Little Women because I don't think I could stomach re-reading that book 100 times. I never liked Beth because she was so meek and Amy in the book was a little snot. Ideas welcome.