Scholar Sinead Murphy combines the lessons learned from Austen’s female characters with The Rules, a Georgian era book that informed women on how to behave and present themselves to the world. Using characters such as Elizabeth Bennet, Emma Woodhouse and Catherine Moreland as examples, Ms. Murphy guides her readers through the often rocky path of finding the right person, while finding happiness as a single, independent woman.
I am not sure that I liked this book. It doesn’t take a scholar to figure out the life lessons that readers have been learning from Austen’s characters for the last 200 years. As an Janeite, I did enjoy this book. But I felt like I was being preached to. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Catherine Moreland has to simply take her head out of the gothic romance novels to see what is going in around her, or to know that Emma Woodhouse is not the matchmaker and know it all that she thinks she is and Elizabeth Bennet to learn to curb her prejudices and her slightly sharp tongue.
If one were to judge Jane Eyre simply by her early life, one might say that she is doomed to be unlucky and unhappy. Jane is orphaned as a baby and raised in her deceased uncle’s home by an aunt who despises her. At the age of ten, she is taken to Lowood school, a charity school where the students are receiving subpar treatment. Eight years later, Jane leaves Lowood to work for the enigmatic and mysterious Mr. Rochester as the governess for his ward, Adele.
Charlotte Bronte’s classic 1847 novel has been remade on screen multiple times over the years. In this post, I’m going to write about my favorite Jane Eyre adaptations and let you decide which among the three is your favorite. The criteria for comparison remain as is:
How closely the screenplay mirrors the novel.
The chemistry between the actors, especially the potential love interests.
The age of the actors, if they are close enough in age to the character to be believable in the part.
If the locations chosen to film resemble the scenes from the book.
Cast: Jane Eyre (Sorcha Cusack), Mr. Rochester (Michael Jayston)
Pro’s: This TV adaption is the truest of any of the filmed adaptations. It’s as if Charlotte Bronte was somehow in the room with the production team. It is flawless, the actors are perfect in their parts. In short, I have nothing but praise for this adaptation.
Cons: The only con that I can think of is that it is 41 years old. It looks 41 years old.
Cast: Jane Eyre (Ruth Wilson), Mr. Rochester (Toby Stephens)
Pro’s: Another flawless production. Sandy Welch’s screen play mirrors the novel. Wilson and Stephens have it, whatever it is, that actors have when they are playing certain characters. They are on fire on screen. The viewer (especially this viewer) has the feeling that when this mini-series is over, Jane and Edward will have a very happy life together, in and out of the bedroom.
Cast: Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska), Edward Rochester (Michael Fassbender)
Pro’s: Director Cary Fukanaga and screenwriter Moira Buffini take an unorthodox approach to story telling. The movie starts half way through the novel, after Jane has left Thornfield. The casting of Wasikowska and Fassbender was a brilliant choice. Both age appropriate, they are perfectly cast in their parts.
Cons: It is a movie vs. a mini-series, so not everything from the book got into the movie. But I’m pretty satisfied with this adaptation.