Friday, June 10, 2011

It May Sound Crazy but Jane Eyre and the Sound of Music are a Lot Alike

Watching both movies within a short time of each other, and being deeply moved by both, I realized that the Sound of Music and Jane Eyre are a lot alike. Stick with me for a moment and give me a shot at this . . .  I think I'll convince you.

Both Jane Eyre and the Sound of Music feature a young, forthright, devout, honest and simple young woman. Early in their respective stories, each of our heroines lives in a group situation (a convent, Lowood School) that does not suit her depth of feeling or character nor fully appreciate what she has to offer the world.

In each, our heroine goes to the home of a wealthy and socially prominent older man to serve as governess. The hero in each is gruff and distant toward the child(ren) in his care and not fully able to be a loving parent figure. Both heroes are preoccupied with their own troubles (Captain Von Trap, with his grief over his dead first wife and the Nazi presence in his county; Mr. Rochester with the insanity of his first wife and the betrayal by his family into his hopeless situation). Our heroines enter these grand homes undaunted, despite their simple backgrounds, and are perfectly willing to directly speak their minds and express displeasure with the master of the house for how he is raising the child(ren) in his charge.

Both our heroes are immediately interested and attracted to their young governesses and see a glimpse of how life could be with a strong, earnest, caring, simple woman but they do not know how to express it or pursue it. Instead, each pursues a socially appropriate relationship with a woman who is elegant, beautiful and of a similar rank in society.  Socially sanctioned marriage to these women is openly talked of for our heroes and desired by their families/friends. However, the connections are not to be, as our heroes’ feelings forbid them. These attractive rivals are shallow and lack real understanding.

Meanwhile, both our heroines, despite believing *him* to be engaged to another woman, are finding a real home in the house of their hero. Each wishes to stay in this place that has become home and with these people who understand and appreciate her, even if she can’t be with the man she now desperately loves.

The unspoken romance between the master and governess in each story deepens and culminates with an exciting moment where the heroes explain that they are not going to marry the elegant woman, their feelings for the governess are declared, the governess becomes the happiest of women, and marriage is proposed. Both declarations happen in the evening, outside on the grounds of the house they share. 

Though this would be enough to complete a standard love story, in these two stories the romantic climax does not form the climax of the story. Each story continues with a more intense drama.

Here the plot similarities become less parallel, as the Sound of Music features a happy couple together confronting evil in the world and fleeing through the hills to be together and away from the Nazi’s pressures on the Captain. In Jane Eyre, the existence and madness of Mr. Rochester’s first wife is disclosed and Jane flees; her hero languishes. Not until the end are they reunited.

Both stories feature our heroine leaving at some point in the story in order to distance herself from strong and disagreeable feelings; both stories feature a spiritual and emotional growth of the young heroine that allows each to be with the man she wants.  In the Sound of Music, this happens after she begins to feel attracted to him but knows him to be engaged to another and before the Captain’s declaration of love. In Jane Eyre, her leaving occurs after the declaration, on the very brink of marriage, after she learns of his wife still living.

Both stories also feature our hero needing to grow before he can be with the woman he loves. In the Sound of Music this was accomplished much earlier in the story and much more easily, as he became loving toward his children and re-invited music into their lives. In Jane Eyre, the hero’s growth does not take place until the end of the book after having suffered greatly.

Both stories end with the couple removed from their homes. The complexities of life cannot allow them to simply live happily ever after in the comfortable mansion in which they fell in love. But they can be together.

It May Sound Crazy but Jane Eyre and the Sound of Music are a Lot Alike. LostinBritishTV


  1. That's quite a comprehensive list of similarities. The same thought occurred to me when watching the movie Jane Ayre recently. I will just add one detail to the list of similarities. Jane arrives at the mansion of Mr.Rochester and is met by the head servant woman whom she mistakes for the woman of the house. Maria mistakes the butler for the captain in The Sound of Music.
    Thank you for writing about this.

  2. I watched Jane Eyre last night and went to bed thinking of many of the same similarities. What blows the mind though is that Jane Eyre was a work of fiction in the 1800's and the story of Maria Von Trapp was true.

  3. Not strange or funny anymore at all. I just finished reading a National Archives article of research on the true Maria Von Trapp and it is apparent that much of the movie plot of Sound of Music is fictional. I am sure it was borrowed from Jane Eyre because of its similarities.

  4. i thought the same thing!! Mr Rochester also has his charming friend who flirts with the rich women--like Max. In the movie, Adele even entertained the party with a puppet show....