Cary Fukanaga’s adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s novel ‘Jane Eyre’ depicts the narrative of a young orphan named Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska) living in the 1800s, Victorian era. Jane Eyre is faced with many obstacles when it comes to love, but manages to overcome them all and flourish. She teaches us that love can be found anywhere, challenging the idea that love is purely intimacy between a couple.
Firstly, an important message revealed by Jane Eyre is that love can be found anywhere. One way this is shown is through Jane’s stay at Lowood Institution. Jane’s stay at this school was a ‘low’ point in her life. Although her experience here was horrific, she managed to find her best friend whom she loved dearly and it changed her entire outlook on society. This message is important because Jane teaches the reader that the place in which was the ‘low’ point in her life, was the same place she learnt how to love. At the beginning of her arrival at Lowood, Jane met Helen Burns. Their first encounter was in class where Helen turned around and smiled at Jane. The key lighting used in this scene was manipulated to draw the viewer’s attention to Helen. The lighting accentuates her blazing orange hair that is looser and brighter than the other girls’ hairstyles. It contrasts with the cold and washed out uniforms the other students wore. Jane and Helen’s friendship can be viewed through a symbolic lens where Helen is the ‘light’ in Jane’s stay at Lowood. In a particular scene, Helen and Jane are outside in the school garden where they confide in each other. Helen says to Jane, “My father used to preach to me that life is too short to be nursing in animosity.” This dialogue showcases their contrasting views on the world. Despite their differences, Hlene makes it clear to Jane, “…you are loved…” Showing that Helen loves Jane like a blood-sister. The last example of their relationship is seconds before Helen dies. “Don’t be sad, Jane. You have a passion for living and one day you’ll come to the region of bliss.” This represents Helen’s hope for their union in heaven. Her death was one of the most tragic incidents in Jane’s life. In spite of this, Jane came out of Lowood Institution knowing that the place where she felt most antagonised and lonely, was also the place where she found love.
Another way this important message is revealed by Jane is at Thornfield Hall. Thornfield Hall can be viewed as the ‘thorns’ that Jane comes across in her quest for love. In Jane’s arrival at Thornfield, she meets Edward Rochester (Michale Fassbender) whom she fell in love with. In one sense, they are having a conversation by the fireplace. Rochester says, “Not three and three thousand schoolgirl governesses would have answered me as you’ve just done.” Through this dialogue, the director is conveying that Rochester finds Jane captivating for her “…openness, unpolluted mind…” This first encounter of theirs indicates the promising direction their relationship is headed. Thornfield mansion has a warm, and sepra-like atmosphere that gives Jane a welcoming, and hopeful feeling. The director manipulates the colour palette in Thornfield to enhance Jane’s experience here. The colour scheme consists of light yellow, orange, and tan colours that mirror the harmonious environment of the mansion. Most of the light sources are from the lit candles, and fireplaces that are implemented throughout the mansion. The director uses deliberate underlighting from the fire in the fireplace conversation scene to create an intimate effect between Jane and Rochester. Windows are a symbol that the director uses as a symbolic cage for women in the Victorian era. In one scene, a wide and off-centre shot shows Jane behind a barred window talking to Mrs Fairfax (housekeeper) about how she wishes women could have the same opportunities as men, “I wish a woman could have action in her life like a man. It agitates me to pain that the skyline over there is ever our limit.” This dialogue expresses to the viewer that Jane feels isolated, and restricted because of her social stance and gender. The shot also consists of a cool-toned colour palette: grey, brown, and dark green on the side of the window. The low saturation and opaqueness of the room denotes that Jane is in a vulnerable position behind this window. The sombre atmosphere inside contrasts with the ambience from the outsider. The beaming white, green, and pale tint of orange from the horizon that is out of her reach is an illustration of her confinement. Despite Jane’s lack of power and freedom at Thornfield, her love for Rochester grows immensely especially in one specific scene. This scene was when Rochester proposed to Jane by the Chestnut Tree. This was a highpoint in Jane’s stay at Thornfield which is emotionally conveyed through the use of music. The soundtrack in ‘Jane Eyre’ was directed by Dario Marianelli. Marianelli’s use of string instruments (violin, cello, and double bass) is evident in this scene when Rochester says to Jane, “You are my equal and my likeness.” The violin fades in to capture the passion and deepness of the proposal. Moments before Jane’s acceptance of the proposal, “Then Sir, I will marry you,” the orchestra intensifies to create a harmonious effect before the climax for the kiss. These examples of Jane’s intimate relationship with Rochester exemplify that love can be found everywhere even when you come across ‘thorns’ as Jane did.
The last way this message is revealed, is when Jane finds her new family at Moorhouse. When Jane flees from, she is faced with a difficult journey on her way to Moorhouse. The director uses pathetic fallacy to convey Jane’s feelings of despair and grief that sat on her shoulders. She walks across the moors that were shown in the opening scene. Jane’s strong emotions are mirrored by the hazardous weather. The gust of wind and heavy rain intensifies as she drops to the ground. The director says, “…I like letting the visuals do the storytelling…” This emphasises that the lack of dialogue in this scene is deliberate , encouraging the viewer to connect with Jan’s vulnerability. In the distance. Jane sees light ablaze from the moorhouse. As she struggles getting through the muddy morass that the rain caused, she finally reaches Moorhouse. St. John and his sisters save Jane and present her with ‘moorings’ back to life. She finds love in the new family that she has become a part of, “I’ve never had a brother or sisters. Please, let me be yours.” St. John accepts her wish and is now Jane’s brother. Her new family that she found at moorhouse depicts to the viewer that after all the troubles she had been through, her quest for life has been fulfilled by her new place in St. John’s family.
In conclusion, Cary Fukanaga’s use of symbolism, lighting, camerawork, dialogue, music, and colour palettes contribute to the viewer’s understanding of Jane’s message. The important message that love can be found anywhere, despite any hardships that occur.