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The Evolution of Jane Eyre
Brooke E. Terry
University of Tennessee - Knoxville
Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre often straddles the line between the feminist and the sentimental. On the one hand, the novel is the story of Jane, her struggles, her growth, and her development. She is a strong character who rises from a harsh background and childhood to achieve peace with her decisions and her life. On the other hand, Jane’s relationship with Mr. Edward Rochester is central to the book. She calls him “master” on many occasions and, although she is not completely submissive, she does eventually marry him. Indeed, in various film adaptations of the novel, it is this relationship that takes center stage. For example, both Robert Stevenson’s 1944 and Cary Fukunaga’s 2011 versions of Brontë’s iconic work place heavy emphasis on the romance of the story. Both movies remove certain scenes from the tale, and alter some aspects of Jane’s story that take the focus away from her and shift it onto her romantic relationship. However, these changed features can often take away from Jane’s own progress, such as her growth and development that Brontë charts in the book, and can make her a weaker character because of it. At its core, Brontë’s novel is about its compelling title character, and while the 1944 and 2011 film adaptations of the work are successful and faithful to the novel in many ways, they ultimately hurt the representation of Jane’s journey.
Women's Control of Passion: Louisa May Alcott's Revision of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre and Societal Restrictions of Passion in the Nineteenth Century
Cicero-Erkkila, Erica Eileen
Louisa May Alcott's revision of the representation of passion in Behind a Mask, or a Woman's Power (1866) in connection with Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre (1847) is something that has not been widely discussed in scholarly studies since the reintroduction of these Blood and Thunder novels by Madaline Stern in 1975. Both Brontë and Alcott demonstrate in their novels that passion is a positive attribute, but, through Jane, Bronte demonstrates that hysterical passion must be sincerely controlled and internalized in order to positively contribute to a woman's life. Alcott, on the other hand, suggests that women merely need to act as proper gentlewomen and use their passionate ways in assisting them to do so. Jane Eyre and Behind a Mask are two texts that represent women with very passionate personalities, which are portrayed as positive aspects of these characters. Alcott's suggests through Jean, that passion should be a tool used by women to achieve happiness; which is very different than Brontë's demonstration of controlled passion and proper Christian, gentle behavior. Through the analysis of passion and the different representations of passion in these two texts we can see that Alcott's work is revising the idea of passion compared to Brontë's earlier representation of internalized control in Jane Eyre.
Edward Rochester: A New Byronic Hero
Forina, Marybeth (2014), Undergraduate Review, 10, 85-88.
In her novel Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë established several elements that are still components of many modern novels, including a working, plain female hero, a depiction of the hero’s childhood, and a new awareness of sexuality. Alongside these new elements, Brontë also engineered a new type of male hero in Edward Rochester. As Jane is written as a plain female hero with average looks, Rochester is her plain male hero counterpart. Although Brontë depicts Rochester as a severe, yet appealing hero, embodying the characteristics associated with Byron’s heroes, she nevertheless slightly alters those characteristics. Brontë characterizes Rochester as a Byronic hero, but alters his characterization through repentance to create a new type of character: the repentant Byronic hero.