Book/Film Review | Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte/ 2011 Film Adaptation

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 Jane Eyre, the story of a young girl and her passage into adulthood, was an immediate commercial success at the time of its original publication in 1847. Its representation of the underside of domestic life and the hypocrisy behind religious enthusiasm drew both praise and bitter criticism, while Charlotte Brontë's striking expose of poor living conditions for children in charity schools as well as her poignant portrayal of the limitations faced by women who worked as governesses sparked great controversy and social debate. Jane Eyre, Brontë's best-known novel, remains an extraordinary coming-of-age narrative, and one of the great classics of literature.


Jane Eyre is one of those novels that I admit I've run away from, screaming in the other direction. That's the trouble with novels school systems force on you in high kind of never want to see them again. Earlier this year, I watched a wonderful review of it by The Readables, and the next week, found myself in Posman Books purchasing a copy. I humbly amend my earlier misplaced disdain of it. Jane Eyre has become one of my favorite novels of all time.

I'm not sure what I expected upon reading Charlotte Bronte's exquisite novel, but what I received was a heroine extremely a head of her time. I've even started to think that a lot of our female heroines aspire to  be Jane when they grow up. Jane is bold, opinionated, and refuses to allow her seeming ominous circumstances to bear down on her spirit. This novel is fiercely inspirational, in that respect, as Jane refuses to be forced into the box that many around her seek to imprison her with. What I also really enjoyed about the novel is that, although there are loads of gothic references, and ties to the spirit world,  the novel did not seem overly sensational. It felt more like Bronte depicting life as it was, rather than deliberately contriving a story with ghosts hidden in dark corners and voices in the night.

When Jane meets Rochester, I think I finally understand why he's one of the most famous heroes in English Literature. He is full of sardonic wit, that really comes to life when matched with Jane's spirit. He caused me to love Jane all the more because even as she acknowledges that she is intrigued by Rochester's conversation, she maintains a level head in lieu of the many secrets that haunt him in Thornfield Hall. Rochester is extremely cocky, and at times a bit irritating in his assumption that he knows all there is of the world...yet even with all of this I felt drawn to him, his backstory, and his transformation as the novel draws to a close.

Charlotte Bronte is such an excellent writer. Unfortunately, there are many classic novels that, though I respect them, I cannot get through for the dense writing and slow moving plot. Yet from the first page, Bronte thrilled me with her beautiful writing, as well as her ability to build a wonderful plot. I'll admit that there are moments, between the middle and end, that felt a bit slow.  Nevertheless, it definitely surprised me!

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I give Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte 4 and a half out of 5 cups of Earl Grey by a luminous fire.

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Following in The Readables footsteps, I've also decided to do a brief review on the 2011 adaptation of  Jane Eyre. I've observed that fans hail the 2006 BBC adaptation as the one to beat. Unfortunately, I have yet to see that one, so until I do, this one remains my favorite of those I have seen. I can almost see the balking through the screen. Although it's the one I love most of those I have seen, it is a film with hits and misses. Of the hits, I adored the settings, especially that of Thornfield Hall, beautiful costumes,  amazing cinematography, as well as the score. They each held a poetic quality that will keep me watching over and over again. I also adored the chemistry between Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. It's electric, and definitely rules that whole middle section of the film. Micheal Fassbender is the Rochester to beat all Rochesters. Just saying.

Of the misses: It's incredibly hard to condense a 600+ page novel into a two hour film, it's just not possible. I've never been one of those readers that watch an adaptation and agonize over how much they changed from the book, it's a useless argument. However, in this film there were moments that seemed a bit rushed. Especially the ending, which I feel they owe us 20 minutes more, at least. When it comes to Mia's portrayal of Jane, I think she did a fine job, but as many have pointed out in their reviews, I thought that she portrayed Jane as a bit more frail than I imagined her in the novel.

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I give this film 3 out of 5 cups of Earl Grey.

P.S.: If you have yet to check out The Readables on YouTube, please run over now! She is one of my top ten book vloggers!


  1. I don't think I'll ever pick up Jane Eyre and read it, but I liked your review. I am one of those people who runs screaming from the books they tried to force us to read in school. I'm surprised I read Emma and Pride and Prejudice! I also don't enjoy the wording in such books. I know it sounds horrible, but I don't.

    I had seen a previous version of Jane Eyre starring Joan Fontaine and Orson Wells. And I liked it, though I much prefer than latest adaption. I think the two actors did a pretty good job, though even though I hadn't read the book the ending seemed sped up to me. Like they had this almost 2 hour movie and it's time to end it so let's hurry up!

  2. I completely missed this post! It always excites me to hear about other peoples' responses to Jane Eyre because it's really one of my most beloved books. It's so deliciously atmospheric in its way, and Jane and Rochester are two brilliant characters. I had much the same reaction to Jane that you did. She has a sort of quiet fire that's just incredibly empowering. When I first read the book I remember going into it expecting a love story, so I thought the chapters on her childhood might drag along, but she has a way of capturing the reader so fully that her company alone is completely satisfying. Her interactions with Rochester just take the novel to new heights, you know?

    And I agree with a lot of your thoughts about the 2011 film. Even though I'm one of those diehards for the 2006 miniseries, this one impressed me much more than I was expecting. I was disappointed in the length as well (a reason I think you'll enjoy the 2006 version - it's twice as long so it's able to cover more ground). And I also found Mia's Jane to be a little flat, too. I always saw Jane as quiet on the surface but with an unmistakable energy underneath, and Mia just felt a little too meek. I'm sure I already said so when we were discussing different versions, but Ruth in 2006 had this way of putting incredible passion into the role without coming off as overtly theatrical. That might be my favorite thing about the adaptation. I don't blame Mia for not being more aggressive in the role - it struck me as deliberate, in order to create a more melancholic tone to the film rather than the slightly more grandiose Gothic style of the novel, you know? It presents a different view of things, and that's always fun to see from films. Some books, though, I like to see depicted more..."verbatim", I guess, and Jane Eyre's one of those. (: