- Purchase/rental options available:
This study looks into the 2011 film adaptation of Jane Eyre and compares it with two earlier feature film versions to examine how different Zeitgeist at different periods read the Charlotte Brontë text. Especially, three categories are examined: the genre and times, the female community and the role of Bertha, and transposing Brontë’s narrative into film. The 1944 film’s Gothic genre emphasizes Jane’s destitute state and her domestic role to nurse Rochester back to what he had been before. This was due to the special circumstance or the times when women needed to relinquish their social roles over to men returning from World War II. The 1990s was a prosperous time, so Jane’s journey to attain her authority is portrayed in an optimistic light in the 1996 adaptation. She is supported by various female characters; especially, she is tied visually to Bertha through the mirror motif. However, her leaving and returning to Thornfield is extremely compressed; thus, her inner struggle and growth of the independent self is not fulfilled. The 2011 film reflects a time of uncertainty for people, especially youths. Thus, director Fukunaga sets the film in the Gothic genre to emphasize the fear and isolation that Jane faces. The film starts at the moment of Jane’s leaving Thornfield, comes to a full circle through flashbacks, and progresses on to her trial with St. John. This structure emphasizes the two trials that she had to face between the two men and portrays the inner struggle and growth she had achieved through her life at Moor House. Although a harmonious ending is contrived at the end, the emphasis is not only on the romance but also on the individual inner growth for both Jane and Rochester, between the younger aspiring class and the once dominant class.