I finally got to saw the new Jane Eyre movie, and was smitten once again by this transcendent love story. The new adaptation of the Charlotte Bronte classic had a few surprising twists -- most notably, Director Cary Fukunaga started in the middle of the story, a place where brokenhearted Jane loses her literal and figurative way. Suitably, she spends a lot of time running despondent on the moors.
Maybe it was the cinematography, but aside from the dramatic plot elements of mystery, romance and horror, it was the setting that lingered most in my mind. The moors -- those sparse boggy, peaty, mossy stretches of land -- an ideal setting for a female protagonist to lose herself in misery.
I didn't analyze it as a kid, but I was affected in a similar way while reading Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Secret Garden. Mary Lennox, the unhappy friendless little girl, wanders on the cold windy moors, which are more than a backdrop to the story.
I envisioned the moors in summer with lavender hued heather and other vegetation softening the brutal landscape. But the moors in winter are cold and barren. In Jane Eyre, setting reinforces mood, fueling the emotional engine of the story, almost like another character. I came up with this unscientific equation:
setting + mood = plot driver
Just a little idea to file away for future fiction writing. What are your thoughts on using setting to drive plot?
Next week: An interview with Kathryn Erskine, author of the 2010 National Book Award winner, Mockingbird. Please check back -- you could win a signed copy!