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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Of Convenient Fires and Hyena Women

Edit: Mel here. Below is a post by guest blogger, redgirl, describing the party I had with my family to celebrate getting into vet school...enjoy.

As you no doubt are fully aware by this time, Mel got into vet school. (I would post links to how you should know this, but I'm thinkin' the server couldn't handle of them. And if this is the first post for Mel's blog you're reading to get a feel for it, I'm sorry.)

I stumbled in the house that morning, and I knew things were only going to get better when I saw a bottle of Robert Mondavi Select Cabernet Sauvignon perching proudly in the middle of the island.

Of course at this point, I was already a little buzzed on cough syrup courtesy of a cold that hit me like a nonspecific ocean liner hits an iceberg.

As Mumsy and Melly sit and talk about (umm...don't remember, wasn't listening), I'll throw some history out.

My things have always been versions of Hamlet and Pride and Prejudice. I own several versions of P&P, and will hunt out bizarre versions of Hamlet to watch with the little sis. My mom's is Jane Eyre. And when a parent has an obsession liking in something like that, daughter will have an "interest" in it too.

My first was the 1996 William Hurt version. Me likey. Then she had me watch the George C. Scott version that was HER favorite. Then she found the Timothy Dalton (aka James Bond of the late 80s) version. It was FOUR HOURS LONG, people.

The plan today was to watch the William Hurt version followed by maybe a few scenes from the others to compare.


When one is watching a movie based out of English (although realistically probably Scottish) moors, one must join the on-screen characters in drinking tea, wearing warm clothes, and eating scones but calling them biscuits on occasion.

Tea? Check! Scones? Check! (lemon!) Inclement weather? Check! Start stirring your tea in a somewhat counter-clockwise fashion and let's get started.

Jane was apparently raised by Aunt Petunia, which would scare the living daylights out of just about anyone. Brocklehurst comes and they talk about going to hell which is apparently a burning pit of fire. Jane says she will avoid it by staying in good health. Brocklehurst is displeased.

They go to Lowood, a school for unfortunate random orphan girls where Jane has to break ice on the washbasin to wash her face. When they gather in their little dresses and dusters, Brocklehurst stands Anna Paquin *ahem* the young Jane Eyre on a stool and tells the school that they must shun her (a nice single word that wraps up his five minute speech) because, worse even than adultery (apparently by the way he's going on), she is a liar (gasp!). Tragic plot device Helen Burns befriends her anyway because Jane has to have someone to talk to so the movie isn't just descriptions of her feelings and narration.

I sit in anticipation of the hair chopping scene and sip some tea--genteelly.

Yup. Helen shouldn't have taken off her bonnet. But Jane will not stand by while her friend of a partial day gets her hair hacked off (because of the vanity to possess hair that curls naturally) and not Do Something About It! She decides to help by getting her hair chopped off too. 'Cause nothing looks more pitiful for a death scene than shorn 7-year-old girls.

Brother (how could he miss the party?): Those are some SHARP shears! (as Brocklehurst cuts through their hair with no trouble whatsoever)

Mom: I want scissors that sharp.

Helen passes gently away in the night due to consumption (um...I guess we'll go with that piece of fiction...), but only after she gets Jane to crawl into bed with her to "share warmth." Ha! Someone won't be doing their share by the time morning hits....just sayin'.

We see the graveyard and a long necked woman comes out. Who could this be?? Bless my soul, that teacher called her Jane! How time flies! Brocklehurst wants her to stay and teach, but Jane has a better head than THAT on her shoulder (more on heads and necks and shoulders later) and informs him that she has taken a post as a governess.

We get to see her riding in a carriage, and she arrives at Thornfield Hall, where passions take flight. Fairfax serves tea and comments about how nice it will be to have someone to talk to. Plot device Adele comes in, the annoying and vapid French ward of Rrrrroochester. Speculation flies. Adele begins to assert her annoying personality by immediately speaking in French without the help of subtitles (HA Melinda). We all collectively hope that her screen time is limited, but we know better.

Jane hears spooky laughter, and we are informed it is Grace Poole. Hisssss!

Adele the whiny doesn't want to do sums etc. because she sucks at them and Jane bribes her with teaching her artsy stuff and letting her dance if she's a good girl.

That night, for no reason whatsoever, Jane decides to stretch her legs by taking what appears in hindsight to be a 10 mile walk around the estate. She hears hoof beats, and we are beset upon by William Hurt aka Mr. Rochester galloping up on his horse with dog at his side. They pass Jane...and the horse slips and falls in the mud. He insults her mildly and they talk for a few minutes, R not mentioning his identity while Jane tells a strange man in a secluded area her life's history. He goes to get back on the horse....and this is where it starts to unravel.

You see, we realized it wasn't the same horse.

I realize films do this, and sometimes it's even a little blatant, but we had a suspicion they had switched horses not once, but twice. You got one horse for dashing about and falling, a horse to lay calmly on R, and then another horse for him to get atop of. Sacrilege! We actually rewound the tape to confirm our worst suspicions.

And I have to say, when your trust is betrayed that badly, the movie gets a lot less reverence.

Jane finally makes it back to the house, and is informed that the master Is Home. And he had an accident due to an idiot. They all sit while R tries to needle Jane. He remarks on her "tenacity of life" to have survived 10 ghastly years at Lowood, then makes her play the piano and insults her for said playing.

Another night, R is mean to Plot Device by not letting her dance for him. Jane's all "you can be rude to me, but you shouldn't be mean to a child!" R tells her about the bastard state of Plot Device and how vapid and ditzy her parents were too. Jane informs him that a child should not have to pay for their parent's mistakes. Go Jane!

The next day while chatting with Fairfax, we hear spooky hyena laughter. Jane clarifies it’s not just her hearing it, although we get the feeling that Fairfax would love nothing better than to blame it on Jane’s imagination. Jane meets Grace Poole (hisssss) randomly and is rude to her On Purpose. Grace makes menacing eyes at Jane and advises “If I were you, I’d be lockin’ my door every night before I went to bed” and looks at her like a deranged serial killer looks at the next prostitute on his murder list.

That night, Adele steals Jane's portfolio of art to bring to R like a cat brings a dead mouse. R accuses Jane of having copied a master and Jane gets all fiery and independent on him. They share a moment or two of swoon-worthy eye gazing. Any who don't know the story at this point in the movie are probably wondering why geezer and girl seem to have a thing for each other.

Us collectively: Awwwwww!!!

Jane awakens in the nights to a crazy hyena laugh, so she leaves her room and sees smoke. I guess this means her and R are pretty much across the hall from each other. R lies in a bed fully clothed and clutching a glass filled with something. Oh, and did I mention the bed hangings are on fire? Jane grabs a basin and tries to put the fire out. That doesn't work, so she grabs a vase, divests it of the flowers and flings the water in R's face.

Me: Yesss...I love that part!

Mom: Why did she waste time trying to put it out?

Brother: Can I make some bacon?

Mom: Sure

Brother: Yessss

R gives Jane his dressing robe and tells her to stay put. She does a little peering and sees him go into a strange door. Apparently they all live in the same wing of the house/castle/manor. Jane goes to bed thinking happy thoughts about the happy moment she shared with R. Which is why she's hurt and surprised to find that R rode out right after daybreak for a party. Good old Fairfax, fount of information! They're also changing the linens in R's room. "What happened?" Jane asks, actually putting on a decent act. "Oh, there was a fire." "Do you know how it started?" "Well dearie, R fell asleep with the candle on, bless him, and he caught a-fire. Luckily, he woke up in time to put it out." R a .... liar?

A few days later, the servants are all bustling around to get the house ready 'cause R is throwing a partaay to woo Blanche Ingram, who is likely after him for his money. But we don't know that yet. Jane doesn't want to go to go down that night, but Fairfax tells her that it was R's special intention that she do. Rochester manipulation WIN!

Jane goes and sits in the corner in her best black dress looking like a shadow while Plot Device is dressed as though she hopes someone will ask her to dance. Blanche flits and flirts around and starts making cruel comment about Jane and governesses in general in front her while R smiles and lets it happen. Rochester douchebag WIN!

Jane sneaks out and up the stairs, reminding me of The Sound of Music when Maria leaves the ball after some cutting comments by the baroness. She looks at her self in the mirror and comes to the conclusion that she is not as beautiful as Blanche, so What Was She Thinking? (But your neck is longer, Jane! No one can take that away from you!) The doors fly open and R comes out with his on version of "leaving so soon?" She won't look at him, and R says she looks depressed. Jane says she's just tired.

Mom: Tristan! How many pieces of bacon did you COOK?

Brother: Only 6 pieces!

Mel: That looks like more than 6. Can I have one?

Brother: It's MY bacon!

Me: Be quiet! I want my swoon moment and you're not taking it away from me!

Mom: There aren't a lot of them....

Melinda: Bacon! Want!

Brother: Stop trying to take my bacon!

Me: Aaaaaaaah!!

Mom: I'll make you some later!

Jane and R are holding hands on the romantic! A knock on the door: it's Mr. Mason, whom we Yet Know the Significance Of. R doesn't seem happy with his new guest, but would probably have to agree if asked that his beard was spectacular.

In the middle of the night, there is a mighty scream and everyone pops out of their doors. R blames it on a servant drinking some port, but drags Jane to the mysterious room with him. We see Mason on the bed, blood everywhere. He utters the magic words: "She...BIT me!" R doesn't allow questions though, so Jane remains in the dark.

Jane stays up pretty much all night while R finds a way to dispose of Mason…in the non violent way (unfortunately for our lovebirds). When the post comes though, Jane has to bust in the party, scandalizing Blanche with her audacity. R goes with her, and she asks for a leave of absence because her Aunt Petunia Reed is dying. He makes her promise that she is, actually, coming back and lets her go.

Aunty doesn’t recognize her when cute lawyer takes her in to see. She refuses to let Jane forgive her for being an imp of Satan all those years and directs Jane’s attention to the bureau. She tells Jane that in addition to being a starts with “b” and rhymes with “witch” all those years, she also told Jane’s uncle that Jane was dead. And said uncle had wanted to adopt her and leave her small mountain ranges of money. “Oh well,” says Jane, “that would have been nice, for sure” but she decides not to write to the uncle and tell him what really happened because it would mean calling her aunt a two-faced liar. Ah Jane, you are such a saint. We also find out from one of the servants that James, her “brother” died of (and I quote) “Bad Company” aka the final results of certain social diseases. That’s what happens when you bed hop, James.

Jane returns home to find the house agaga with thoughts of an impending wedding. R acts all surprised that she actually came back, but Jane slips back into routine. She gets a sad thinking about having to leave R’s smoldering looks and goes for a walk in the garden to think it over. R comes upon her there and starts up a touchy-feely conversation with Jane where he intimates that he’s going to go all matrimonial and Jane (obviously) thinks he means Blanche. R talks about finding her a position in Ireland with a house full of kids, don’t worry! Jane talks about not wanting to go so far away.

R agrees and talks about a string being attached to his heart and hers, and that if she goes so far away, he’s afraid it might snap. “Far away from what?” R asks. “From…stuff.” She says getting all emotional. “From England, Thornfield, the people here…” “Get to the point!” says he. “From you!” she cries emotionally.

It is then revealed that it was all a ploy to get Jane to tell R she loves him because R is too much of a man and everything must be “ladies first.” Rochester manipulation WIN!

He asks her to marry, but she doesn’t want to be toyed with. (I want to be toyed with, please?) She finally believes him and they seal the wedding bell bargain with a long, nuzzling kiss.

With a new love in his life, R is a new man. He rushes about buying clothes for Jane. Fairfax tries to have a revealing conversation with Jane. All while trying not to reveal anything. She succeeds in insulting Jane, which does not achieve her desired effect. R talks about getting married and then leaving Thornfield…forever! Jane doesn’t seem too disturbed; despite the fact that she was a few pages previous so adamant about how she liked the place.

Forgetting to lock her door in anticipation of marital bliss, Jane goes to bed her last night as an impoverished single woman.

Or is it?

Egads! There’s someone else in the room! We see her in the mirror, but she’s wearing Jane’s wedding veil. Which really notches the creepy factor up for some reason.

Mel holds up mesh fingers, an invention by yours truly.

Me: Don’t be a sissy…you don’t actually see anything!

Mel: I don’t CARE

Open scene on the church, which is surprisingly empty for a supposedly wealthy and important man’s wedding. Oh well, it’s not like this is ominous or anything. Priesty boy does his “and if anyone knows of an impediment” speech and moves smoothly in for the recitation of vows, not leaving a poignant pause for anyone to say “I object!”

This doesn’t stop a random lawyer from walking in, removing his hat and saying “The marriage cannot go on. I declare an impediment.” (I would have used exclamation points, but I’m trying to be faithful to the movie.) R and Jane turn around. R doesn’t appear to like this development, and we realize that while we couldn’t see the woman’s face through the veil last night, we can see Jane’s perfectly well. Probably because it’s obviously not the same veil.

R yanks Jane back around—he wants to continue the marriage. The sissy priest refuses and Fairfax and an unidentified male member of the house stare transfixed at the unfolding events. Briggs (the lawyer) reads off some document alleging that R is married and we find out his middle name is Fairfax. Interesting….

R starts getting fed up and says about the alleged witness “Then produce him damn you!” Thereby offending the church by swearing on holy ground. Then Mr. Mason offends R when he steps in, looking ashamed at ruining R’s chance at polygamy.

R knows the show is over, but he wants the chance to tell his side of the story, so drags the wedding *party* to the mysterious room where we find Grace Poole (hisss?) We go inside the room to find a long-haired bedraggled woman standing in state at the mantle. We can tell she’s nuts because her face twitches but her eyes remain dead. R uses the words “violent lunacy” to describe her.

Melinda: In the book, she was running around on all fours like a hyena. They even called her a hyena. Where’s my hyena?

Brother: They know she likes fire. She likes burning things…why would they let her have her own fireplace? Idiots.

Bertha Mason Rochester looks a little too calm as she stands there, and R refers to Jane as a thing. “This is what I wished to have.” Bertha picks up a flaming club and gives a little crazy roar and rushes…well, it doesn’t really look like she has an objective with it. That’s probably why she’s crazy.

Brother: See? See?!

The men all jump her and Jane leaves. I’m personally offended by not getting to see the crazy laughing in action. Jane goes to her room and packs a small bag. R finds her and makes her admit that she loves him (again) and seems to be offering her the chance to be his…well, not his wife, so that would make her his concubine? Mistress? Personal shady lady? Jane’s not really down with sloppy seconds and makes for a carriage, never looking back. Thus, she does not see love-addled R riding madly after her on his horse.

But there are shouts in the distance! He turns to find smoke billowing up from his house/castle/manor. And where there’s smoke, there’s crazy hyena women. He runs off to save the day, but Bertha gets there first by pushing Grace Poole off of a high place (byebye, Grace). R, for some reason, actually wants Bertha to live through this, so makes an effort to save her. She foils him and jumps off aforementioned high place to her death. *splat* R receives a burning timber to the head and….cut to Jane.

We see her scrabbling at some random door and it turns out to belong to two women and their clergy-minded brother. She lives with them for a little while, and the sisters are determined to get their brother married off to her, since to all appearances, the town has no other women of marriageable age. He takes her to his secret school room project and tells her he hates his job. Which for a minister is really not cool. He says he wants to be a missionary in India, and wants her to come too…as his wife. Love is optional, but he thinks they can get by okay on respect. Jane says she’ll think about it, but we know that R is the only man for her.

One day, she’s at the house and hears a voice calling across the moor “Jane…JANE.” It’s R! She gets in a carriage and hot-wheels it over to Thornfield…which is a burnt out ruin! She gets the lowdown from a carriage driver who looks (and dresses) like a leprechaun. He lets her think R is dead for a few minutes, then tells her that he’s with Fairfax down in the gatehouse thing.

Fairfax looks excited to see her, now that Bad-Hair Bertha is dead, and we hear R calling for a drink from the next room. Fairfax tells us that he’s blind and has a limp from the “burning timber.” Jane goes in to give him the drink. “Who’s there?” he yells in frustrated anger. Jane lets him feel her up--her arm, neck and face that is—and they have a tearful, kissy reunion.

We get a lovely spoken epilogue as Jane and R stroll the verdant grounds of Thornfield. We find out that R slowly regained his sight so that “when he held our firstborn son in his arms, he could see that their eyes matched exactly.”

Melinda: Bacon time!

Now I need to explain something. The day previous, I had just discovered something called the Jane Austen Drinking Game, which I will be kind enough to post below for you:

Go watch it. I’ll wait.

Now, go read the rules:

That is how my brain was thinking for the entire first movie. The little brother, who I had of course indoctrinated, helped by saying “small dog! Small dog!” while I would mutter under my breath “piano forte.”

Once we started watching the second movie and the wine began to flow, Mom and Mel began identifying the rules of the Jane Eyre Drinking Game.

Tune in later for part 2


  1. Wow, I could have just read the Cliff notes version and made it down to the drinking game...which I LOVE!

    oh, and the bacon fight, that was good and not in cliff notes.

    Part Two sounds like things are going to get good.

    Congrats Mel.

    Congrats to me for making it to the end.

  2. Congrats on your stamina

    Part two DOES devolve into a drinking game...albeit a hypothetical tea-swilling one

  3. Does it also involve heaving bosoms and more bacon?

    I bet Mel doesn't even have a bosom.

    Hey Mel, I am trying out a Frank Baines enduro and it is heavenly. I think my bosom just heaved.

  4. I think you're trying to compare bosom heavage with bosom cleavage. Two entirely different things.

    Plus I think Mel would kill me if the comments section of her blog turned into a lively discussion of her bosom or lack thereof.

  5. What I should have said it that I bet that Mel does not have a "heaving bosom" As in she seems pretty cool and collected to me.

    But the heaving of bosoms is not limited to the freakishly endowed. It is a overly dramatic passion thing.

  6. Hmm...with that definition, I find I must agree. When Mel gets passionate about something, usually horses (this *is* a horse blog after all...have to stay on topic), I have received the psychic sense of a heaving bosom near bye.

    Kind of a metaphorical heaving, if you know what I mean.

  7. It seems to be the topic was Jane Eyre and Victorian bosom heaving. (If that is the correct era, it may be Edwardian bosom heaving) but be that as it may...

    To be psychically attuned to bosom heavage must be a sisterly trait. As I only have brothers, I have not shared this connection.

    Although my brothers were quite capable of metaphorically bosom heaving over bacon.

  8. Too true, too true. I wonder how Victorian bosom heaving and Edwardian bosom heaving differ? A thesis paper for another day, I'm sure.

    When Mel's metaphorical bosom begins to heave, it's a sign of get out or participate. Depending on what the subject of said heaving is....

    I have seen male bosoms heave :)

  9. To to wrap up our investigation. Jane Eyre = good

    Bacon = good

    Part Two = good

    Mel going to vet school = great.

  10. Melinda reading these comments:

  11. Yay - another Life's Highway/redgirl confabulation!!! Sorry, Melinda, you don't know me! I stalked redgirl to get here. I'm afraid I will never look at P&P the same again!!!

    Nancy in Iowa

  12. To put all fears to rest, yes I have a bosom. A very done bosom that's capable of holding up strapless dresses and string bikinis. On the subject if it heaving.....ummmm not so much. Calm and cool that's me! Redgirl will vouch that especially when it comes to horses I never flap my hands about and shriek. Ever. I swear.

  13. Oh bosom wielding sister, thank your for clarifying!

    either your other readers are scared by the comments, are speechless, or are like Funder and do not care for older English lit

  14. I knew she has a bosom. Really modern day girls just have boobs but I knew Mel was a bosom type. (all the reenactment horse and saber stuff.

    And I care, but it take forever to scroll down to the comment section without finger fatigue but some guest poster does not have an editor.

  15. What remains to edited? This is a word of sheer golden genius!

  16. You could have taken out the triple spacing. I think I have tendonitis in my mouse roller finger.

  17. Ah, that. It's something that happened when I pasted it to Mel's blog editor and I was too lazy to take it out

  18. I think that is right bout that. Nice info and thanks. Need to get in google feed.

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