Jane v. “Jane”, or, Darcy v. Rochester – A Conundrum

So an odd, book-related little problem has been keeping me awake. Usually it is just the act of reading which keeps me from sleeping, but this time it’s just thinking about books, specifically Pride & Prejudice and Jane Eyre.

Jane Eyre Illustrated

My friend Jane says that most people like one or the other but not both. I said that I like both books (Jane Austen v. Charlotte Bronte), both heroines (Lizzie v. Jane), but I prefer one romantic interest over the other (Rochester wins!). My friend says I am a freak, that normal people would love one and hate the other.

To me this means that a lot of readers are missing out on the Charlotte/Jane/Rochester experience. This also presented me with a realization that I am not quite as well-versed on either as I would wish, since I couldn’t come up with a decent argument at the time to convince Jane to watch the most recent adaptation of Jane Eyre with which I have become somewhat (ok, verily, and to excess) obsessed.

But I also think that a lot of people who say they dislike Jane Eyre have either seen terrible film adaptations of it, or read the book and did not understand the themes (as I do think it is a more difficult read than P&P), which lands the popularity prize right in the Jane/Lizzie/Darcy court. (*grumble grumble*)

I have decided to educate myself on the differences between the two and try to convince Jane to watch the 2006 Masterpiece Theatre Jane Eyre. I would also like to convince her that there need not be a void between the P&P and JE camps! That it is entirely reasonable to love and enjoy both (or hate both, I don’t know) and that the majority of readers need not fall on either side of the void. Maybe I can convince you, too!

  • I have ordered the Norton Critical editions.
  • I have Netflixed all available film versions of both stories, that I do not already own.
  • I have started an Excel spreadsheet to track my data.
  • I will be holding a contest! You know, just for fun, and to pick your brains for ideas on how to convince people that JE is just as good as P&P. (stay tuned for details.)

I may be a little delirious at this point, having slept poorly two nights in a row.

Maybe I should sleep on this.


About frootjoos
reader, blogger, knitter, foodie, and community event organizer

10 Responses to Jane v. “Jane”, or, Darcy v. Rochester – A Conundrum

  1. Juju says:

    Good luck! Sounds like a worthy venture 🙂

  2. lissa says:

    I love Jane Eyre, Pride & Prejudice does not compare, I prefer Jane Eyre over Elizabeth any day

    I have the dvd of the BBC Jane Eyre mini-series and I love that adaptation, plus actor Tobey Stephens is the perfect Rochester, at least that’s how I picture him

    I am currently trying to read Pride & Prejudice, I find the book to have more frivolous words than necessary and finding it a bit dull compare to Jane Eyre, I think it’s because the style is so different and Pride & Prejudice just seem so proper in their wording

    Plus Pride & Prejudice seem so much similar to Persuasion which I actually like better but that’s a different discussion

  3. frootjoos says:

    Thanks for the input, Lissa! And thanks for the luck Juju, I’m going to need it–I anticipate that much of the anecdotal evidence will prove Jane right, but want to compose a formal argument that will prove her wrong! ^_^

  4. lissa says:

    If you’re interested – I am currently giving away a copy of the 2dvd Jane Eyre set here:

    I will be coming back to see your progress but I suspect not everyone will be convince but it’s worth trying

  5. Kate says:

    It sounds like a completely enjoyable endeavor. Wish I’d thought of it first.

    If you wanted to add my two cents, I think the two camps could be related to the atmospheres of the books, as well as the author’s style. I like both books. I do have a greater affinity for the Pride & Prejudice movies because they seem to attract the better male leads. (Toby winning hands down for Jane Eyre, though).

    I will admit to being more in tune with Jane Austen’s world of polite manners, then Charlotte Bronte’s gothic world of extremes. Jane writes in a manner to challenge the reader to find the unique and the genuine in a world that is full of half truths created by the rules governing society. Everyone is painted, on the surface anyway, in bright hues and lively colors. We have to find the honesty.

    Charlotte, on the other hand, uses the gloom of the English countryside as the catalyst for isolating the true unique beauty of her heroines. Her hues are dark and forboding. Honestly speaking, it takes a while to see any sustaining light in her world. Once you do see it though, it just keeps getting brighter and brighter. Her heroines, especially Jane, wind up bringing their light to the rest of Charlotte’s world.

    Now, this is just my opinion, but I hope it helps you in your quest for rhyme and reason. Good Luck.

  6. HeyLanolin says:

    I have always loved Jane Eyre over P&P — ever since I was a little girl, and saw it on my mother’s night stand. It’s darker, less frivolous, more intent on letting you know who Jane is, and what she wants, and what her sadnesses are, and what her joys are, how strong she becomes that she even surprises herself. I prefer Jane over Elizabeth, and this preference is encapsulated by that first line in the last chapter: “Reader, I _______ him” (in case someone hasn’t read it yet, haha. I’ve talked about this many times with friends (who are rabid P&P fans) but I haven’t been able to verbalize my argument the way I want it to sound like. Much like the way I’m mucking it now, haha.

    And Rochester. Oh, that surly, surly man, I love him. An anecdote — a couple of weeks ago, my mom was raiding my bookshelves, and she saw “The Wide Sargasso Sea” (the ‘alternate’ Jane Eyre), and she said, “I’ve heard of this, but what is this exactly?”

    And I explained the premise.

    And my mom promptly put the book back into the dark shadows of my shelves, saying, “I have complete faith in Rochester. I don’t know why you even have that book anyway.”

    Rochester over Darcy any day.


  7. frootjoos says:

    @HeyLanolin – LOL. I just ordered Sargasso. I just *have* to read it now… I’m a completionist, you could say. I’m also getting Thornfield Hall, which is Adele’s story.

    And yes, the reason for this project is because I always seem to muck up explaining why JE is = to or > P&P… and the reason for that is probably because once I start talking about it I picture Toby Stephens glaring at Ruth Wilson and drift off to wishing he would glare a little my way… hee hee.

    Eyre lovers, keep it coming.

  8. Diana says:

    Bronte described Austen’s work as, “a carefully fenced, highly cultivated garden, with neat borders and delicate flowers; but no glance of a bright vivid physiognomy, no open country, no fresh air, no blue hill, no bonny beck.” I feel the same.

  9. Gina says:

    Enjoy both stories very much but Rochester wins over Darcy every day in my life! Toby Stephens is the BOMB as him….I sure wouldn’t have been able to leave him regardless of lunatic wife in the belfry!

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