The opening frames of Cary Joji Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre are startling. Charlotte Brontë’s novel, published in 1847, is a trenchant portrait of female entrapment, but this new adaptation immediately thrusts us outside. A fully grown Jane (Mia Wasikowska) hastens down a hill slope and roams around a vast, viridian moorland. Nearly thirty film and television adaptations have led us to expect to discover Jane as a juvenile prisoner of Gateshead, confined to the sliver of space between window and curtain while a flabby, menacing John Reed hunts her down. Instead, a bird’s-eye shot shows Jane at a crossroad, and subsequent close-ups divulge her crying, the thing she has most been at pains to suppress. The twenty-first-century Jane Eyre is less a victim of cages and cruelties than she is cosmically alone.
Melinda Harvey is a Melbourne-based book critic. Her writing has appeared in many publications, including Australian Book Review, the Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Literary Review, and the Canberra Times. She has a PhD in English from the University of Sydney and has lectured on literature there and also at ANU, RMIT, Monash University, and the European College of Liberal Arts, Berlin. These experiences have provided much fodder for a campus novel that she hopes to write by the time she’s seventy-one (and she thanks Mary Wesley for this kindly benchmark).
From the New Issue
Dancing Under the Southern Skies: A history of ballet in Australia by Valerie LawsonReviewed by Luke Forbes
Lettersby Margaret Simons, Angela Woollacott, David Bradford, Michael K. Launer, and Sheila Fitzpatrick