Annotated Bibliography: Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre (Novel)
Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1941. Print.
Since Jane Eyre was published, it has been seen as the epitome of the Gothic novel and has since been transformed into countless modernizations, films, graphic novels, and even a video blog. Jane Eyre is a quiet, orphaned-turned governess who works for the mysterious Mr. Rochester at Thornfield Hall and soon falls in love with him. Thornfield Hall itself holds a haunted past and present mystery for Jane that reveal many symptoms of a Gothic novel: an insane wife hidden in an attic, a tyrannical master, forbidden love, an old manor placed far off the beaten track; ghostly shadows, moral crossroads, tragedy, and unexplained events (fire-set curtains, ripped clothing, singing and laughing seemingly coming from nowhere). Aside from the Gothic themes, Jane and Rochester go through some personality changes. Morals and principles are also a large theme of the novel, as are boarding school conditions and religion. It is important to keep the novel as a base because…well…it’s the original story and, as described above, holds many of what the twenty-first century even sees as aspects of a Gothic novel.
Jane Eyre (2006 T.V. Mini-Series)
Jane Eyre. Dir. Savanna White. Perf. Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens. BBC, 2006. DVD.
Out of all the film adaptations, the 2006 miniseries best portrays not only the gothic nature of the novel, but the characters and their personalities. Passion, emotion, flaws, and virtues are clearly expressed in a seamless transference from page to picture. This is mostly due to the four-hour time frame instead of the typical two.
As far as characterization, Jane stays the insecure, but strong, resilient, caring, and sticks to her principles before turning into an independent individual that knows who she is and what she wants while keeping her principles, religion, and strength, although she is slightly prettier than what the general standard of a “plain” woman. While the 2011 adaption did well, that Jane’s performance was too stoic, too “robot” (pun intended) for the heart Charlotte Bronte gives her character in her novel. Rochester, too, remains a wandering man who is socially inept, harsh, cynical, and seems to have given up on life while hiding a soft side before blundering through his own character transformation and learns to let go of the past and stop manipulating people – especially compared to the 1983 version of Rochester played by Timothy Dalton, who gave Rochester too much of a cruel, physically abusive, controlling character. The real seller, though, is the Gothic ambiance.
The Gothic theme is also kept to a “T”. The lighting is almost constantly dim and shadowed. The halls are pokey, and you can feel the cold and the draft in every grand room except Jane’s…which is how it was described in the novel. Even the outdoor scenes are bleary and clouded. There is little background music (lots of silence, especially when there is dialogue) because it is mainly used for the big dramatic scenes. There’s a heaviness that stays constant throughout, but lifts in the last scene with the family portrait sitting that give the satisfaction of a happy ending. The only major change is that the language is tweaked for the twenty-first century audience understanding – less of the “Oh Jane! Jane!” dialogue that was common for the times of the novel, but cheesy today. Other than that, this 2006 adaptation best translates the two most important aspects of the novel: characterization, and Gothic theme.
Jane Eyre (2013 Video Blog)
Aref, Nessa, and Alysson Hall. “The Autobiography of Jane Eyre.” Video blog post. Wixx.com, Youtube.com. N.p., 2013. Web. 25 Nov. 2015.
In 2013, Jane Eyre went beyond the overdone film, metaphorphasizing into the ultra-modern video blog…or “vlog” for short, and is run by both professional actors and students looking to become actors in the media world whose skills were almost strictly voluntary. The episodes are anywhere from two to twenty minutes and contain ninety-five episodes total. Where a film adaptation turns the novel into a moving picture with original settings, the correct time era, etc., “The Autobiography of Jane Eyre” takes the novel Jane Eyre and renovates it into what the story would be like if it took place now, in the twenty-first century. For example, Jane isn’t a governess who was stuck in an orphanage teaching until she reaches Thornfield. Instead, she is a college student with a nursing degree stuck in college because she doesn’t know what to do with her life; Thornfield isn’t a home, it is a company that sells aluminum; Rivers is a doctor, not a preacher; Grace Poole is Rochester’s overworked P.A.; Bertha is the depressed wife rather than the insane wife.
Facebook and Twitter are used just as we would…not to mention the camera, which only Jane uses, and is the only way to see what is going on, so some of the story is only mentioned, rather than shown. It does all this translating and still keeps all of our favorite events from the book, but also gives new interpretation to the characters, especially those we don’t hear too much of in the novel. Adele is a fairly active character in the vlog, portrayed as a bright, intelligent, lonely girl who has way too much pressure to do well in the infinite extra-curricular activities Rochester has her in. It’s a characterization that can be seen in the novel if one looks hard enough, but the novel doesn’t really flush out Adele the way the vlog does. The Gothic theme isn’t as heavily accented as the original novel or the 2006 adaptation, but there’s enough to keep you thoroughly spooked where it’s woven in. The vlog mostly focuses on the characters, the adaptation differences, and how Jane grows as a person. It is obvious that, for an adaptation run mostly by students and people who weren’t getting paid, every detail, every change, and every interpretation was painstakingly made to honor both the book and today’s concerns – Jane and Rochester don’t even get back together after the accident, much less married, because that’s not really how it would be done nowadays. I would definitely recommend the vlog to both the fans of the novel and those who are not familiar with ways of historical fiction, and would fully count it as a worthy comparison to the original Jane Eyre novel.