Consider the case of “Jane Eyre,” a novel that otherwise tunnels unflinchingly into dark spaces but in which Charlotte Brontë, in writing the deathbed scene of Jane’s beloved friend Helen Burns, indulges the “died peacefully in her sleep” fallacy full on.
Lowood, the dreadful school Jane attends, is ravaged by typhus — 45 of the school’s 80 girls fall ill. Jane, by good fortune, is spared. So is Helen Burns. Smart, kind, and slow to anger, Helen embodies the 19th-century good-girl ideal, which also means that she’s the irresistible candidate for sacrifice for a novelist committed to the dark turn. Rather than hurling typhus at her, Brontë fells Helen with consumption, a rather romantic-sounding disease that, in Brontë’s telling, affords the victim the honor of wasting beautifully away, a fitting death for the angelic friend of a Victorian heroine.
Today we know consumption as tuberculosis, a disease of the lungs that gradually suffocates its victim to death. Not so romantic. (...)
So what was Charlotte Brontë thinking? By the time she wrote “Jane Eyre,” at age 30, she knew death. At five she lost her mother, and at nine she lost two sisters to tuberculosis at the Clergy Daughters’ School at Cowan Bridge, upon which Lowood is based. Is Helen Burns’s deathbed scene a fantasy for Charlotte, a dream of what she wishes her sisters’ deathbeds had been? Is Helen’s death a gift to all of us from Charlotte Brontë, granting us an image of a good death? Or is it a gift to herself, a delusion she created to ease her fears about her sisters’ deaths and her anxiety about her own inevitable one?
Jane by Aline Brosh McKenna and Ramón K. Pérez
In 2017, screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada) teamed up with Eisner Award-winning illustrator Ramón K. Pérez (Tale of Sand) to create this charming modern-day retelling of Jane Eyre. In this version, Jane leaves her small town to go to art school in New York City, but she soon realizes that her dream isn’t as glamorous as she imagined. To afford the expensive city, she takes a job as a nanny for a little girl named Adele. When Jane falls in love with Adele’s father, she is introduced to the dark world of the city's elite and the secrets that lay in the shadow. McKenna's sharp script is perfectly paired with the lush colors and cartoony vibe of Pérez's artwork. (Tasia Bass)
Which Charlotte Brontë title heroine says: “I am a free human being with an independent will”? (Olav Bjortomt)
The Daily Illini explores bildungstroman:
The 50-cent specimen staring back at us from our word-of-the-day calendar this fine morning is “bildungsroman.” It is the literary term for a coming-of-age story — more specifically one where mental and emotional maturity takes place. Think “Jane Eyre,” “The Catcher in the Rye,” “Harry Potter,” “Star Wars.” (Samuel Rahman)
Dot Productions brings two contrasting shows – a musical version of the well-loved Robin Hood and Jane Eyre, Brontë’s classic about a girl who suffers a cruel childhood before becoming an adult, guarding passionate and mysterious secrets. (Brad Barnes)
She has since been cast in her first leading role as Emily Brontë in the upcoming Emily, the directing (and writing) debut of Australian actor Frances O'Connor and co-produced by Robert Connelly (The Dry) (...) in the Yorkshire-set film that follows the uplifting story of a young misfit who went on to write Wuthering Heights.
My friends would say my palate for music isn’t very diverse. I enjoy bangers and the main A-side songs only, and I’m okay with that. Like, I’m a fan of Kate Bush and love Wuthering Heights, but I don’t dig into her back catalogue. I’m happy to be lowbrow in my music choices. (Shipla Ganatra)
The novel — though you can’t really call it that, as it features so many non-fiction digressions, including into architectural history — narrates his quest to recover his past and his true identity, but at a tangent. Sebald himself, rather like Lockwood in Wuthering Heights, is the primary yet recessive ‘I’ of the story, to whom Austerlitz recounts his tale. (Lucasta Miller)