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Bluebeard GothicThe influences and legacy of Jane Eyre have been explored from many different perspectives and using all kinds of critical approaches. Its alleged adherence to a particular trope or tropes of stories and how these tropes intersect in its interior have been profusely studied. In the last decades the further spreading of its influence in other novels has also been explored and it's currently an active field of research.
Jane Eyre and Its Progeny
University of Toronto Press
I am mostly interested in the Brontë effect that this novel has had on the adaptations it has spawned, because I claim that they provide the first-hand critical reception where the workings of this effect are best evident. In anticipation, adaptors tend to seize on what they think are the blind spots, contradictions and discrepancies in Jane Eyre, thus demonstrating the effects it has on them and on their culture. We may in advance wager that these effects are precisely what have turned Jane Eyre into a mnemonic symbol not only in Britain but also worldwide. (p. 14)The second chapter discusses novels that can be read as testimonies to Jane's narrative of trauma: Anna Leonowen's The Romance of the Harem, Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea and Emma Tennant's Adèle: Jane Eyre's Hidden Story. In order to show how adaptors act as witnesses to their inmediate literary heritage, the author reads their discourse within the (Lacanian) symbolic register(4).
Mrs. Fairfax stayed behind a moment to fasten the trap-door; I, by drift of groping, found the outlet from the attic, and proceeded to descend the narrow garret staircase. I lingered in the long passage to which this led, separating the front and back rooms of the third storey: narrow, low, and dim, with only one little window at the far end, and looking, with its two rows of small black doors all shut, like a corridor in some Bluebeard's castle.(4) Which generates an altogether pedantic and condescendent statement when the author says:
Characterizing adaptations of Jane Eyre in terms of the discourse that governs the rewriting appears to suggest a concomitant aesthetic evaluation: the texts that prize symbolic discourse seem to score lower points than the other two [hysteric and analytic]. To some extent this is true; yet all studied texts certainly have merits.(5) This reviewer finds many possible future objects of research. The book follows Bluebeard Gothic rewritings of Jane Eyre but can we filter this trope and find out how previous novels (i.e. Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho) have also been used as a precedent which Jane Eyre reformulates and resignifies? And what about how Michael Berkeley's Jane Eyre opera envisions Bluebeard Gothic elements? Such a discussion will involve interesting connections with other operas such as Paul Dukas's Ariane et Barbe-Bleue or Bela Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle.