Too many dang SEXY JANE EYRE adaptations out there, that’s the problem. Friends, I don’t object to sexiness qua sexiness, but Jane Eyre is a book about ugly people. If I accomplish one thing in my life, let it be the increased acceptability in casting the ugly and the weird-looking in period dramas. We would all be the better for it. Interesting things happen to people with bad bone structure, you know, and there’s something particularly ridiculous about watching Babe after Babe deliver the “poor, obscure, plain, and little” monologue to some smooth-faced Male Babe in a billowing cravat.
Also, watching Michael H. Roosevelt Fassbender ask “Do you find me handsome?” and getting “no” for an answer was one of the most ridiculous cheats Hollywood ever attempted to perpetrate on my person, and if I ever meet him I will knock him down for making me sit through that scene.
Honestly, we don’t need another Jane Eyre adaptation; what we need is an adaptation of The Wanderer, but we live in the world that we live in, and there will be more Jane Eyre adaptations shoved into our eyeballs as surely as I’m living. The point is that I don’t just want to look at a bunch of grotesques for the sake of OLD TIMEY AUTHENTICITY or what have you, the point is that Jane Eyre is a book fundamentally about ugly people. Not unattractive people – they’re very attracted to one another – but ugly.
Remember that scene when two of the Reed family’s servants sort of casually dismiss the fact that she’s a victim of child abuse because she’s ugly?
Bessie, when she heard this narrative, sighed and said, “Poor Miss Jane is to be pitied, too, Abbot.”
“Yes,” responded Abbot; “if she were a nice, pretty child, one might compassionate her forlornness; but one really cannot care for such a little toad as that.”
“Not a great deal, to be sure,” agreed Bessie: “at any rate, a beauty like Miss Georgiana would be more moving in the same condition.”
“Yes, I doat on Miss Georgiana!” cried the fervent Abbot. “Little darling!–with her long curls and her blue eyes, and such a sweet colour as she has; just as if she were painted!”
NOT TO MAKE YOU FEEL BAD ABOUT YOURSELF BUT THAT IS WHAT HAPPENS EVERY TIME WE CAST A BABE AS JANE EYRE, WE HAVE GOT TO BE ABLE TO EXTEND OUR SYMPATHY AND ABILITY TO IDENTIFY WITH SOMEONE ELSE’S EXPERIENCE TO THE NON-HOT OR ELSE WE’RE GONNA GET REAL BORING AND AWFUL REAL FAST. GOTTA CARE FOR THE TOADS. JANE EYRE IS A TOAD BOOK, AND DON’T YOU TRY TO WORK AROUND THAT BY CASTING A BUTTERFLY WITH A SEVERE HAIRSTYLE.
like, see, that’s a babe
that’s a babe
here’s another babe
WHEN EVEN BERTHA IS A BABE YOU HAVE GOT YOURSELF A FUNDAMENTAL MISUNDERSTANDING OF THE TEXT, MON FRIEND
WE NEED SOME WEIRDOS IN THIS MIX. Okay, I’m not going to give you any names, because everyone currently working in the field of acting is still too good-looking to please me, but here are some casting guidelines that should help.
Jane Eyre: An electric eel, a haunted player-piano, a family Bible that smells weird and has a bunch of names written in the back that you don’t recognize, a weird bird that someone just kicked accidentally, some wet batteries
Mr. Rochester: An old boot stuffed with paper bags full of spaghetti, an angry hat, punched-up Mickey Rourke at the end of The Wrestler but without plastic surgery, a TV that’s just been turned off but is still warm
Bertha Mason: That feeling when you’ve been throwing up for ages and you know you’re going to throw up again but there’s nothing left to throw up, not even stomach acid, so you just have the horrible sensation of interior folding and retching until you can’t breathe
St. John Rivers: Yeah, go ahead and cast a babe, obviously.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.