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What are the Best Jane Eyre Adaptations?

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by Anna Rose (subscribe)
I'm a music enthusiast and foodie looking for new places and experiences.
Published April 28th 2014
Jane Eyre written under the male alias of Currer Bell

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is a timeless classic that has remained relevant even in the modern society, despite being written almost 200 years ago. It comes as no surprise to hear that many, many adaptations have since been made, the most recent being in 2011 starring Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska.

Jane Eyre 2011 movie poster

For those unfamiliar with the synopsis, here's a little review (by no means, a substitute for the novel.) Jane Eyre is a poor orphan girl who is thrown into the custody of her cruel aunt, a Mrs Reed of Gateshead. Jane was despised and sent to a Lowood charity school at a very young age.

Young Jane arguing with her aunt

She excelled at the institution and left to become a governess to a Mr Rochester of Thornfield Hall, 20 years her senior. Though Mr Rochester was a sardonic, mysterious master, Jane became attached to him. However, in a successful attempt to arouse Jane's jealousy, he courted a beautiful young lady, Blanche Ingram, well suited to him in both looks and financial backgrounds. He eventually confesses his emotions and proposes to her, a proposition that she happily accepts.

But her elated feelings come to a close when the wedding is interrupted by the pronouncement of an impediment, Mr Rochester's mad wife. Jane escapes Thornfield and finds herself in the hospitality of St John Rivers, who coincidentally happens to be her half cousin. He proposes marriage, claiming her to be a suitable missionary's wife but she hears Mr Rochester's voice calling Jane and returns to Thornfield to find it in a ruin. She sees Mr Rochester, in a wretched state, blind and crippled by the second fire caused by his wife before her suicide. Jane and Mr Rochester are happily reunited and again, he proposes marriage. She accepts.

The 2011 film directed by the young Cary Fukunaga, as mentioned above is a notable adaptation with generally positive reviews.

My favorite adaptions in order are:

1. 2006 TV Miniseries with Toby Stephens as Mr Rochester and Ruth Wilson as Jane Eyre.

The chemistry is unmistakeable, electrifying and intense in just the right moments. The music is equally as arousing with the proposal scene as one of the most passionate romantic scenes in all adaptations. Jane Eyre (2006) Proposal Scene. Any fan of Toby Stephens and his enigmatic voice and filmography (the likes of Great Gatsby, for example) should definitely give this a look.

2. 1983 TV adaptation with Timothy Dalton as Mr Rochester and Zelah Clarke as Jane Eyre

What can I say about Timothy Dalton? See for yourself.

Are you swooning yet?

The adaptation resembles the novel almost perfectly but Zelah Clarke's Jane Eyre is a questionable interpretation of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. She appears plain and little as required, but at times, a bit submissive, to my personal liking.

Jane Eyre 1983

3. 2011 Film Adaptation directed by Cary Fukunaga

Characteristics of gothic films are beautifully enmeshed with remnants of romanticism.

This is 3rd on my list only because, being a film, there is a restraint in the possible length. Both of the adaptations above, are given the advantage of length and thus, more description in the minute details of the novel. The performances of both the main leads and also Jamie Bell who plays Mr Rivers are highly commendable (and not to mention Dame Judi Dench as Mrs Fairfax)
Decide for yourself.

Jane Eyre Official Trailer 2011

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