The Other Jane (and the other Toby)
Did anyone else watch the new BBC adaptation of Jane Eyre, shown on PBS Masterpiece Theatre the last few Sundays? It stars Toby Stephens as Rochester and Ruth Wilson as Jane Eyre.
Now, I adore Jane Eyre. Jane Eyre, Pride & Predjudice, and Little Women – I’ve read each of those books more times than I can count. And I’m not quite sure what to make of this new adaptation. I enjoyed it immensely – both they’re both so darned attractive, it just hardly feels like Jane and Rochester! Toby Stephens … gah, he’s gorgeous. And Ruth Wilson hardly seems like “poor, plain, obscure, little” Jane. The chemistry between them is smokin’ – as evidenced by this scene after she’s saved him from being burnt alive in his own bed. And the ending – oh, the ending was lovely. And as opposed to what is typically said of the book’s conclusion – that by being blinded and crippled, Rochester is symbolically castrated – the Wilson/Stephens pairing remains sensual and full of life. You don’t imagine this Jane looking after this Rochester like a nursemaid tends an invalid.
I was always fond of the 1997 A&E adaptation with Ciaran Hinds and Samantha Morton. They physically matched my vision of the characters – Rochester is big, dark, brooding, intimidating. Jane is petite, plain, very young.
So maybe Ciaran Hinds is still my Rochester. But Toby Stephens can come set my bed on fire any day.
Did any of you watch it? What did you think?