Jane Eyre - Adaptations from Novel to Film

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Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’ is a highly influential and well-known classic worldwide. Particularly scrutinised and analysed is Jane Eyre’s relationship with Mr Edward Rochester, a soul deep and impossible connection in the era in which the novel is set. The fame of Bronte’s novel resulted in the creation of a number of films, the most recent of which being Cary Fukunaga’s 2010 adaptation, and Franco Zeffirelli’s 1996 adaptation. Directors aimed to capture the film realistically, however, as in all adaptations, some changes were made and therefore, meaning is both conveyed differently and lost. The nature of Eyre’s encounters with Rochester are particularly emphasised in both films, drawing from the novel. However, the two films take vastly different approaches to the filming. Zeffirelli presents their first encounter in a wide, open setting; a road cutting through the moors. Contrasting to the novel, in which Eyre and Rochester’s meeting was portrayed as taking place in an intimidating forest, results in a loss of its sense of danger, mysterious qualities, and particularly a sense of Eyre’s vulnerability in the setting, and her defiance against the intimidation, “I cannot think of leaving you, sir, at so late an hour, in this solitary lane, till I see you are fit to mount your horse.” Fukunaga, comparatively, establishes their meeting in a dark, sombre forest, emphasising Eyre’s small stature against the massive trees, and her fear through the mysterious and dangerous cadences of the background music. His wild black steed, along with his height difference also conveyed in the novel as he leans upon Jane Eyre, highlights the tall, dark nature of Mr Rochester. Jane Eyre is characterised by Bronte as being a small, plain girl, whose inner beauty is conveyed through her fiery temper, love for others and clear sense of self worth. Rochester is illustrated
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