Saturday, October 10, 2015

Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves: October's Inkling Explorations Linkup

This month, the Heidi's topic for Inkling Explorations is gypsies.  Go here to read her post and other people's entries.


I am going to focus on my favorite film adaptation of my favorite novel:  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  I love the 1983 BBC version starring Zelah Clarke and Timothy Dalton, and the "gypsy scene" in it never fails to delight me -- it's got just the right mix of mystery and humor.

This post is going to be spoilage-laden, for anyone who doesn't know the story of Jane Eyre.  Not just know the basics, but have actually read or seen it.  Just so you know!


So Mr. Rochester is having a big house party, and by "house party" I mean he has like a dozen people staying with him, neighbors and acquaintances and so on.  Including the beautiful Miss Blanche Ingram, whom he is rumored to be courting.  One day, while Mr. Rochester is out on business and his guests are all terribly bored, a gypsy woman comes to call.  She insists on seeing all the ladies in the house to tell them their fortunes.  They're bored, so off they go, though many of the ladies don't seem very pleased with her uncannily accurate predictions.  Miss Ingram in particular is quite annoyed when she returns to the group.

The gypsy insists on seeing all the ladies, including the young governess, Jane Eyre.  Jane agrees to go because she thinks it could be interesting.  Into the library she goes to confront the old woman.

Now, the book says the gypsy "had on a red cloak and a black bonnet: or rather, a broad-brimmed gipsy hat, tied down with a striped handkerchief under her chin."  They kept to the color scheme in this version at least, showing a red kerchief under a black hood of some sort.


The book also says the gypsy "drew out a short black pipe, and lighting it began to smoke," which they adhere to in this version as well.


The gypsy starts to tell Jane Eyre things about herself and her habits that make Jane suspect she's been speaking with the servants to learn things about the household.  The gypsy avers it's not so, then tries to draw out Jane's thoughts and feelings about her employer, Mr. Rochester.


Jane doesn't like this at all.  She's growing pretty attached to Mr. Rochester, but she doesn't really want to admit it to herself, much less a weird old gypsy.


But hey, guess what?  It's not actually an old gypsy lady at all!  It's actually Rochester in disguise!  Hahahaha!  What a good joke!


Well, he thinks it's a good joke, anyway.  Jane is not at all amused because he was trying to draw her out and get her to admit she likes him.  But I love how gleeful Rochester is here -- Timothy Dalton exudes boyish delight in this scene, which is what makes me love it.  He doesn't expect Jane to be so awfully angry with him, as you can see.


Then, of course, she tells him a certain Mr. Mason is waiting, and all the fun is over.  And this is what makes this scene so pivotal.  Having learned Jane does care for him at least a bit, a deeply distressed Rochester asks if she would stand by him if all the world were against him.  She says she would do so for any friend, and here I think she begins to suspect that he might return her regard, for why else would he ask her such a thing?  And why else was he trying to find out how she felt about him in the first place?


If you haven't seen this version, but like the story or just like BBC period dramas in general, do yourself a favor and find it!  The characterizations are first-rate, and while the filming has that '80s BBC we're-using-videotape-because-it's-cheaper thing going on, it's still very enjoyable.

18 comments:

  1. Would it be fair to call Mr. Rochester--um--slightly "manipulative"? Cause that's how he strikes me.

    But really. I warn you, if any guy ever does that to ME, it's good-bye for him :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He tries to be, anyway. Poor guy, he's pretty damaged.

      Delete
    2. What's wrong with him--is he mentally ill, or what?

      Delete
    3. Goodness, no, Jessica. He's not mentally ill, he's spectacularly Byronic, that's all. Rochester is the ultimate Byronic Hero (really, Manfred ought to be, since he's the original, but he pales in comparison to Rochester, IMHO). He's broody and sad and ill-tempered and has a Very Painful Past that is full of Secrets.

      When I say a character is "damaged" I generally mean they have horrifyingly heavy emotional baggage and/or emotional difficulties. I am kind of guessing you don't know the story, so I'm not going to spoil things here and tell you what Rochester's backstory is (unless you want me to), but I will say that he is wealthy and spoiled and used to getting what he wants, and he was manipulated into making a very bad decision as a young man that has haunted him ever since. He's also made plenty of bad decisions of his own free will, and is contemplating making another one at this point in the story.

      OH, how I love this book! And the characters therein!

      Delete
    4. I see . . . So basically, he's got a lot of character issues/emotional issues? Okay, I can understand that, but I STILL would never speak to him again if he tried to trick me like that ;)

      No, I've never read the book but I know the general storyline. I tried reading it once, but I couldn't get past the first scene (you know, the one where Jane's cousins are abusing her). I was like, NOPE. It was just too painful. (INFJ-empathy issues again :) )

      Delete
    5. Yes, Jessica, he's deeply flawed, but ultimately redeemable. Oh, how I love a good redemption story!

      Jane's cousins are horrible. I must admit that if I just need a jolt of favorite-book-ness, I skip the whole beginning and start at her arrival at Thornfield Hall.

      Delete
    6. Oh, I know he's redeemable--but not by ME. I mean, I wouldn't be able to undertake the work of "bringing him around" myself. I'm not that kind of person. I'm sure Jane is happy with him, though.

      Delete
    7. And that's precisely what draws me to sad and/or damaged characters -- I want to help them. I want to solve their problems and make them happy :-)

      Delete
  2. I couldn't think of any gypsies for this prompt! I can't believe I forgot this scene. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jillian, there's still plenty of time left to do the prompt :-) I had a hard time deciding between this and part of The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King that involves gypsies. They're also involved/mentioned a bit in "The Speckled Band" by A Conan Doyle and Emma by Jane Austen. And there's a Nancy Drew book that involves them, a James Bond movie... lots of options!

      Delete
  3. Great movie of a great book. I read somewhere that after this movie Timothy Dalton's career stepped up, while Zelah Clarke just disappeared. I thought she made an ideal Jane.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carol, that's interesting! I didn't know this contributed to Dalton's overall career path, but perhaps it influenced his casting as James Bond? I've never seen Zelah Clarke in anything else, but I do think she's a wonderful Jane -- the only one I've seen that's anywhere near as good IMHO was Ruth Wilson.

      Delete
  4. Ahh, I love Jane Eyre so much. I love watching movie versions of it, but none of them even begin to compare to the book, in my opinion. I haven't seen this version yet, although it has been recommended to me before. I hope I can see it soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Natalie, I've only seen 4 versions of it, but this is far and away my favorite, and also the one I feel sticks closest to the spirit of the story and the characters. I also hope you can see it soon!

      Delete
  5. Perfect selection for this month's theme!:D We have this version of Jane Eyre, but I haven't watched it in YEARS. It was my first introduction to the story, and all I remember is my older siblings telling me how dreadfully terrifying it was. Hmm. Maybe I should try it again one of these days;)

    "But she doesn't want to admit it to herself, much less to a weird old gypsy." Haha;D Timothy Dalton does look like he'd make for a very good Rochester...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This was the only version I watched for many years -- I first saw it shortly after reading the book for the first time, when I was probably about 16, and loved this so much my parents bought me a copy for Christmas. I don't think it's particularly terrifying -- I think the Ruth Wilson version plays things a lot scarier, but maybe I'm just super used to this version?

      Delete
  6. Yay -- I'm so glad you did this!!! :) We have this version, but I've actually only seen it once (i.e. we watched it from the library and enjoyed it so much we purchased it, but haven't yet sat down again for the hours long experience ;)). I think I feel a lot like Jane in this scene. It was rather frightfully rotten of him all the way around (both with Jane and Miss Ingram), but I'm so sorry for him... and he's so incredibly charming... and it was all really rather funny... that there's no being seriously and terribly angry with him. ;P (Not to mention that it makes for such an incredibly tremendous plot point and perfect character development! ;D)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heidi, it's just delicious, isn't it? And yes, it's such an important point in character development AND the plot -- we learn so much here, especially that Mr. Rochester is totally willing to lie and trick Jane.

      Delete

Agree or disagree? That is the question...

(Rudeness and vulgar language will not be tolerated.)