J is for — Jane from Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.
I first read Jane Eyre in junior high English. It was on one of those required reading lists containing books that, for my age group, were more often than not, shall we say… uninteresting. I fully expected Jane Eyre to fall into that category, and because it was the thickest book on the list, decided to read it first to get it out of the way. To my amazement, I discovered that I actually liked it and soon became engrossed in the travails of Jane and Mr. Rochester, and the mystery at Thornfield. I learned a valuable lesson from the experience: read before you judge.
Jane has so many wonderful qualities — honesty, forthrightness, courage. I love her perseverance, her resilience, and her kindness in forgiving those who have wronged her. She is a great reminder to a world that glorifies perfect faces and bodies that it is beauty on the inside that counts.
Of the six movie versions I’ve seen, I think I like the 2006 BBC Masterpiece Theater production with Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens the best. They have great chemistry, and everything is well done — the brooding atmosphere, the harrowing suspense, and romantic tension with scenes that aren’t overdone. Wilson is perfect as Plain Jane, both strong and vulnerable. There are moments after her encounters with Mr. Rochester when she positively glows, no longer plain but young and pretty and in love. Stephens reminds me of a rougher Hugh Jackman, with enough presence and just enough attractiveness, but not too much, to keep things interesting.