Close Up: Jane Eyre Fever - Fandom & Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre fever is still a force to be reckoned as new adaptations of Jane Eyre continue to be made. Whether revisiting the novel, rewinding and re-watching favourite adaptations or waiting with anticipation for new versions of familiar and well-loved characters. The appeal of Jane Eyre shows no signs of fading away.
We spoke to Charlene Cruz - self-confessed fan and creator of Bookish Whimsy.
What is it that you love about Jane Eyre?
There are so many aspects to this book that I love! I love Jane and her journey as a character. How she finds self-worth and self-respect and sticks to her principles despite some very strong temptations.
I love the romance between her and Rochester - which is so intensely romantic because it is based on mutual respect, true affection and understated passion.
I think the characters and their emotions are what draw me in the most, but I also find a lot to appreciate in Charlotte’s strong, vivid prose, especially when I reread the novel. It’s such a beautiful, passionate story which moved me the first time I read it and has continued to do so in different ways as I get older.
Has your relationship to the character and the novel changed over time?
When I first read the novel, I was much more enamoured with the parts concerning Jane and Rochester's romance. I remember re-reading those middle chapters quite a bit! As I grew older though, I came to really appreciate that Jane’s journey is the most important aspect of the novel.
The childhood section shows a lot of the kind of person Jane will become, because that’s when her moral code is formed, with help from her friend Helen Burns. And the last section of the novel lets Jane really examine her beliefs and what she wants from life.
So over time, I’ve come to appreciate the novel as a whole, and Charlotte Bronte’s construction of Jane’s story.
Why was developing the website important to you? You have a questionnaire on your website - what sort of trends have been revealed from this information?
Well the website was more of an offshoot of when I had free time in college that I would spend researching everything I could about Jane Eyre (this I did for fun!) - sometimes it was reading literary criticisms of the story or it was reading about the novel’s reception in the 19th century, and also about what inspired Charlotte Bronte to write the novel.
I also loved to watch, listen or read any adaptation or retelling I could get my hands on.
And I felt like other people might be as interested in the information as I was, so I made a website for everything.
The questionnaire on the website has shown some interesting trends! I only have a population pool of 80 to draw from so far, but it’s clear that the best loved adaptations so far are the 2006 miniseries and the 2011 film. But most people have only watched those versions. Also most people read the novel when they were in their teens - 15 and 16 is the usual age, and I at first assumed it was because they read it for school, but only about 15% read it for school - most people picked it up on their own or because they watched an adaptation.
I’m often happy for a new adaptation of "Jane Eyre" (aside from the fact that I just love watching them) because I imagine it brings a lot more fans to the novel, so I’m wondering if the data that comes from my questionnaire will grow to support that idea.
What do you offer other fans?
With my website, my goal was always to share. Share information and share my love for this story. If there are other huge fans of the novel out there who really just enjoy picking apart different aspects of the story - from knowing what parts may have been inspired by Charlotte’s life to opinions about the adaptations, or just funny or unique ways of looking at the story then I hope those fans will find the website useful. And if it helps any new reader develop a deeper interest in the story, than that is wonderful as well!
Social media offers fans greater opportunity to get involved with the object of their fandom, how has social media increased your pleasure of say new adaptations and so on?
Social media has done so much for all fandoms, it’s amazing. It has given me more of a chance to celebrate what I love about the novel and the adaptations by seeing how other people express their feelings and what they create because they love Jane Eyre. And just to have the outlet to talk to people about a new adaptation takes the solitary experience of loving a thing into a social and engaging experience. Which also brings some validation of your feelings, which I feel is a strong reason why people love to engage through social media.
The new film about the Brontes currently in production www.facebook.com/clothworkersfilms How important is interacting with producers and other fans?
Oh, I am so excited for the new Bronte biopic - the last one (I believe) was in the seventies, so it will be so interesting to see how they film the Bronte's story now. I'm eagerly waiting on the casting of Charlotte Bronte!
Interacting with fans is just fun for me - I love seeing how people got involved with Jane Eyre, and there’s always the necessary questions of which adaptation is your favourite, and why. It really makes my day when someone sends me an email saying how much they like the website and sharing something about themselves. I would love to interact with producers of content if I had the opportunity, but if it is at all helpful to them (in a very small way!) that I just talk about the film or share my thoughts on it through the website, then I am very happy that there is some usefulness in my little hobby!
How many times a year do you read the novel?
I haven’t been able to read it as often as I used to which makes me sad. But I do love to read, and there are always new books I want to get to! But I try to read the whole novel at least once a year, and there are many times I’ll pick it up and just read over a favourite chapter or two.