As I was thinking about my choices for the multicultural reading list post I did a few weeks ago, it struck me exactly what Jean Rhys had done: she took a classic story that she was unsatisfied with, changed the perspective of the story, and came up with something completely new. Instead of taking Charlotte Bronte’s word for it that Bertha was crazy and poor Mr. Rochester was doing the best he can, Rhys gave Antoinette (whom Rochester renamed Bertha) the chance to tell her story.
Of course, this isn’t new. Rosencrantz and Gildenstern were given the opportunity to tell their side of a famous Shakespeare play. Ophelia has been liberated from Shakespeare’s distracting rendering of her story. We’ve seen this done quite a few times, sometimes with fresh new stories that I like better than the original (and I’m sure you can guess which one of these three I feel that way about).
I’ve been thinking about this all day. What story would I like to retell from a different perspective(s)? Which character would I like to vindicate, implicate, or validate? Would I ever try to publish such a story?
I’m still mulling over my answer, but I’d like to hear some of yours.
- Jane Eyre Takes Over New York for Two Nights (vol1brooklyn.com)
- ‘Reading Jackie’: When Literary Choices Become Biography (Column) (popmatters.com)
- Battle of the Brontes (thedailybeast.com)
- Patricia Zohn: CultureZohn: Jane Eyre, a Heroine for the Ages (huffingtonpost.com)