jane eyre – notes

wide sargasso sea

Victorian Period

The Historical Background

Queen Victoria (1819 – 1902), daughter of the Duke of Kent, came to the throne of England at the age of eighteen (1837). She restored the image of the monarchy with her wisdom and gained the respect of the people with her private life, ruled by sobriety and hard work, in a word, by “respectability”. After he death, her son Edward came to tried to follow his mother’s steps.

Home Policy – The Parliament had to face the problems of the workers with a series of Acts (the Factory Act, the Ten Hours’ Act; the Mines Act; the Public Health Act) to improve working conditions, limit the hours of work and the exploitation of children in mines. In 1884 the Third Reform Bill extended the suffrage to all male workers.

Foreign Policy- Ireland found its political leader in Charles Parnell who, in 1880, demanded the Home Rule or independence for Ireland (but the bill was not passed till after the First World War). In 1887 Queen Victoria became Empress of India: its dominions included Australia, New Zealand, Ceylon, Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong, Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus and parts of Africa. In 1899-1902 the Boer War broke out in Orange and Transvaal and in 1854-56 the dispute over the borders between Russia and Turkey gave origin to the Crimean War (during which Florence Nightingale founded the Red Cross).

Literary Background – The developed ways of communication and a new printing system improved literature. The period can be divided into three stages:

Early Victorians

The novelists identified themselves with their own age; they wrote long books published in serial installments and structured every episode as a plot. They tried to attract the masses with suspense and the sensational (make them – the readers – wait, make them cry and make them laugh). Main authors: C. Dickens; W. Thackeray; the Bronte Sisters. The poets at first followed the Romantic way of writing, but soon they captured and reflected the uneasiness of their society. They developed the Dramatic Monologue in which a persona reveals his thoughts and feeling unconsciously to a silent listener. Main authors: Lord A. Tennyson and Browning.

Mid Victorians (or Anti Victorian Reaction)

New scientific and philosophic theories (Darwin’s Origin of Species) provoked a sense of dissatisfaction and rebellion .The realism of the novels mirrors the clash between man and environment, illusion and reality, leading to Naturalism: men are no longer responsible for their actions since they are determined by forces beyond their control. The writer’s task was to record events objectively, without comments. Main Authors: George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) and Thomas Hardy. The poets followed John Ruskin’s theories (1819-1900) against the standardization and the materialism of society; the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood proclaimed a return to simplicity, and to nature as an escape from their society. Main authors: Dante Gabriel and his sister Cristina Rossetti.

Late Victorians

The novelists searched for an escape “travelling” in their selves; they put in evidence the contrasts between classes and races and the contradictions of colonialism. Aestheticism reacted against Utilitarianism and moral restrictions, and broke social conventions by means of free imagination. Main authors: R. L. Stevenson (duality of man); R. Kipling (colonialism) and O. Wilde (mouthpiece of Aestheticism).

The poets were still heavily influenced by Aestheticism, but the most original voice was G. M. Hopkins, the isolated poet who combined lyric passion with his deep religious faith and used a musical and sensuous language, identifying matter and form.

Drama: After a long period of sterility due to the lack of new ideas and to the audience’s taste (playgoers requested amusing comedies, great effects and famous stars) in the 1890s, drama started its rebirth thanks to the influence of French, Russian and Danish (H. Ibsen) playwrights that focused their attention on the psychological study of the characters, in particular, of women and of the social world. Main authors: O. Wilde and G. B. Shaw.

Charlotte Brontë (1816 – 1855) – life and works

Charlotte Brontë was born in 1816, the third daughter of the Rev. Patrick Brontë and his wife Maria. In 1820 the Brontë family moved to Haworth, where Mrs. Brontë died the following year. In 1824 the four eldest Brontë daughters started attending the Clergy Daughter’s School at Cowan Bridge. The following year Maria and Elizabeth, the two eldest daughters, became ill, left the school and died and Charlotte and Emily were brought home. In 1831 Charlotte became a pupil at the school at Roe Head, but she left school the following year to teach her sisters at home. From 1839 to 1841she accepted a position as governess in different families. On her return to Haworth the three sisters, led by Charlotte, decided to open their own school after the necessary preparations had been completed. In 1842 Charlotte and Emily went to Brussels to complete their studies, but only Charlotte remained there until 1844. As their project for founding a school proved to be a total failure, they started publishing under the pseudonym of Bell. In 1848 Charlotte and Ann visited their publishers in London, and revealed the true identities. In the same year Branwell Brontë, by now an alcoholic and a drug addict, died, and Emily died shortly thereafter. Ann died the following year. In 1849 Charlotte, visiting London, began to move in literary circles, making the acquaintance, for example, of William Thackeray and, in 1850, of Mrs. Gaskell. In the same year Charlotte edited her sister’s various works. The Rev. A. B. Nicholls, curate of Haworth since 1845, proposed marriage to Charlotte in 1852. Charlotte’s father objected violently, and at first, she refused him, then in 1854, they got married, though it seemed clear that Charlotte admired him, but she did not love him. In 1854 Charlotte, expecting a child, caught pneumonia and, after a lengthy and painful illness, she died, probably of dehydration. In 1857 Mrs. Gaskell’s Life of Charlotte Brontë was published.

Works – In 1826 Charlotte, Emily, Branwell, and Ann began to write in great detail about an imaginary world which they called Angria. In 1845 Charlotte discovered Emily’s poems, and decided to publish a selection of the poems of all three sisters in 1846 under the pseudonyms of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell.

Charlotte’s novels are:

  • The Professor: A Tale (1857), published posthumously, describes the story of a young man, his maturation, his loves, and his eventual career as a Professor at an all-girls’ school. The story is based upon C. Brontë’s experiences in Brussels in 1842.

  • Jane Eyre (1847) represents a first example of feminist novel as the heroin gets her own living without being oppressed by male authority.

  • Shirley is a social novel published in 1849. Its popularity led to Shirley, thought as a male name, becoming a woman’s name. The novel is set in Yorkshire in the period 1811–1812, during the industrial depression after the Napoleonic Wars and the Luddite riots – when the introduction of a labour-saving machinery by a mill owner caused the violent opposition of his workers.

  • Villette (1853), is the story of a young girl, Lucy who boards on a ship for Villette where she will work as a teacher at a boarding school for girls.

Jane Eyre (1847)


Charlotte Brontë wrote a novel which mixes Romantic and Gothic elements with a new vision of a woman who wants to get her own living without depending on men. Jane Eyre is a first-person narrative of the formative years of the title character, a small, plain-faced, intelligent, and passionate English orphan girl. First published as Jane Eyre: An Autobiography, it is the story of a poor orphan who, after spending many years at the inhuman boarding school of Lowood, at the age of eighteen, secures a position as governess in Thornfield Hall. There Jane is the teacher of Adèle, a young French ward of the absent Mr. Rochester. When Edward Rochester arrives, Jane becomes his friends, even if strange events disturb their relationship. Eventually, Rochester asks her to marry him and Jane accepts his proposal. But, on the wedding morning, a Jamaican man, a Mr. Richard Mason, interrupts the ceremony and reveals that Mr. Rochester is still married to his sister Bertha, a Creole who, in reality, is a violent lunatic kept in a secret room. Disillusioned, Jane leaves Thornfield, but one day she hears Mr. Rochester’s anguished voice calling to her supernaturally and she returns to Thornfield. Now she is rich because an uncle of hers has left her a fortune, while Mr. Rochester’s place has been burnt and he is blind and without a hand. But they are reunited.


Autobiographical sources – Helen Burns’s death from consumption recalls the deaths of Charlotte Brontë’s sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, who died of tuberculosis in childhood as a result of the conditions at their school, the Clergy Daughters School (Lowood) at Cowan Bridge, near Tunstall in Lancashire; Mr. Brocklehurst is based on Rev. William Carus Wilson (1791-1859), the Evangelical minister who ran the school; John Reed’s decline into alcoholism and dissolution recalls the life of Charlotte’s brother Branwell, who became an opium and alcohol addict in the years preceding his death; like Charlotte, Jane becomes a governess. Besides, both Jane and Charlotte, are women who try to improve their social position by working as a teacher and not by marrying a man of fortune. The Gothic manor of Thornfield is inspired by North Lees Hall, near Hathersage in the Peak District which Charlotte Brontë and her friend Ellen Nussey visited in the summer of 1845 (Ellen Nussey described the place in a letter dated 22 July 1845). It was the residence of the family and its first owner Agnes Ashurst was reputedly confined as a lunatic in a padded second floor room. (The Life of Charlotte Brontë by Elizabeth Gaskell, 1857). Moreover C.Brontë, like Jane Eyre, struggled to find a balance between love and freedom and to be understood: many times in the novel Jane’s words echo the author’s radical opinions on religion, social class, and gender.

Literary sources – The Romanticism still inspired Charlotte Brontë’s way of writing and imagination: Thornfield Hall, is a typical Gothic castle with secret rooms; Mr. Rochester is like a Byronic hero with his mysterious past and contrasting personality; the madwoman in the Attic (Bertha) is seen as a vampire (She sucked the blood: she said she’d drain my heart, chapter 20). As to language, the author uses the language of sense impression.


The setting of the story is divided into five places which have a particular significance in the life of Jane Eyre: Gateshead Hall, the place where she spends her sad childhood; Lowood, the harsh school where she learns severity but also friendship; Thornfield where she goes as governess and meets love; Moor House, where her cousins live; Ferndean Manor where she and Rochester are together again. In particular Thornfield assumes a symbolic meaning: ‘Great houses and fine grounds require the presence of the proprietor’ (Chap. 11), says Mrs. Fairfax and the decayed house seems to come alive when Mr. Rochester returns. Besides there is an analogy between the square-faced Rochester and the severe house of Thornfield : both are impressive but show little pretension to physical beauty , as Jane says.


Jane Eyre makes her best to assert her own identity within a male-dominated society.

She despises Puritanism (Mr. Brocklehurst) and rejects cold devotion (unlike Helen Burns who turns the other cheek). Her way of looking at religion serves to control excessive passions without repressing her true self. Jane’s social position and behavior is ambiguous: penniless, but learned; an orphan from a good family; educated, well-mannered, but forced to be a governess, and therefore powerless; she criticizes discrimination based on class but she is relatively sophisticated and aware of her intellectual superiority. Grown with a feeling of alienation due to her first experiences, she is afraid she will never find a true sense of home or community and she falls in love with Mr. Rochester because they are similar but also because he is the first person to offer Jane lasting love and a real home. Nevertheless she hesitates when he proposes her because if she marries him , her owner, she will sacrifice her dignity. She chooses to wait until she is no longer influenced by her own poverty, loneliness and psychological vulnerability.

Edward Rochester, severe and not particularly handsome, wins Jane’s heart, because she feels Rochester’s intellectual equal. Moreover, he has proven to be weaker than Jane in spirit when his first marriage is unveiled and physically when, at the end, he is blind and has lost his house.

Bertha Mason represents uncontrollable passion and madness. She Jane’s calm morality and is the figure who turns Mr. Rochester into a Byronic hero. She serves to give a view of women in the Victorian period.

Even though Jane seems to be the “angel” of the situation in a male dominated society , she is passionate, independent, and courageous and does not submit to a position of inferiority to the men in her life.

Bertha should represent the monster : when she is introduvced to the reader she is always under a fit of madness. The fact she is imprisoned suggests that her madness has been produced by her life in a male –dominated society.

In 1979, Sandra Gilbert and Susan wrote “The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination.” In which the figure of Bertha Mason, the “Madwoman in the Attic, supplies a proof that the Victorian literature divided feminine figures into “angels” or “monsters.”

The term “angel” comes directly from Coventry Patmore’s 1854 poem “The Angel in the House,” in which he describes his sweet and pious wife.

Charlotte Brontë Gothic novel merges the “angel” and the “monster” in the main female characters – a personal statement about the conflict between passion and passivity in her own life.

St. John Rivers is Mr. Rocherster counterpart. Rochester’s flaming eyes and rude behavior represent passion while John Rivers is austere and often associated with rock and ice. He proposes Jane and offers the possibility of showing her talents fully by working and living with him in India. But Jane understands she would be forced to renounce her true feelings and she would feel imprisoned. His proposal leads Jane to understand that a large part of one’s personal freedom is found in a relationship of mutual emotional dependence.

Helen Burns represents a remissive and ascetic way to be religious. So she serves as a foil both to Mr. Brocklehurst and to Jane. Brocklehurst uses religion to gain power and to control others while Helen embodies tolerance and acceptance; Jane believes in God but is looking for love and happiness in this world while Helen believes that she will find her home in Heaven.


The main topics Charlotte Brontë dealt with in Jane Eyre are still modern and belong to our everyday experience. Jane expresses her morality with love, independence, and forgiveness but she never surrenders her independence to Mr. Rochester, even after they are married. For he is blind, more dependent on her than she on him. Throughout the novel Jane tries to establish an equilibrium between moral duty and earthly happiness and to overcome class prejudices, which Charlotte Brontë possesses herself. The three main male characters, Brocklehurst, Rochester, and St. John, try to keep Jane in a subordinate position and prevent her from expressing her own thoughts and feelings. Through Jane, Brontë refutes Victorian stereotypes about women, articulating what was for her time a radical feminist philosophy.


Jane Eyre has supplied material for many a work in the centuries to come :

  • Rebecca (1939) by Daphne Du Maurier (1907 – 1989)

In Rebecca, the heroine, who has not got a name, begins her story with her memories of how she and Maxim first met, in Monte Carlo, years before. When he proposes her, she accepts, and they go back to his estate of Manderley. But Maxim’s first wife, Rebecca, drowned in a cove near Manderley the previous year, haunts the home and the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, still devoted to Rebecca, frightens and intimidates her new mistress. During a costume ball the new wife wears a beautiful costume, but she does not know that is the same dress that Rebecca wore at the last ball. The ball ends in a disaster: Maxim is horrified, and the heroine becomes convinced that he will never love her. The following day, some divers find the rests of Rebecca’s sailboat, with her dead body inside. This discovery forces Maxim to tell the truth: Rebecca was a malevolent, wicked woman, who lived a secret life and carried on multiple affairs, including one with her cousin, Jack Favell. Once she revealed him she was pregnant with Favell’s child and Maxim, furious, shot her, and sank her body into the sea. During the investigations the local magistrate, finds that Rebecca was dying of cancer, and that she was infertile. This supplies a motive for Rebecca’s supposed suicide and Maxim is saved. Rebecca has been adapted several times. The most notable was the 1940 Alfred Hitchcock film version, Rebecca.

Daphne du Maurier was born in London, daughter of a prominent actor-manager and an actress. She was educated at home and in Paris, but in her novels are usually set in the south coast of Cornwall where lived in her house, Menabilly. Her grandfather was the author and Punch cartoonist George du Maurier and she was also the cousin of the Llewelyn Davies boys, who inspired J.M. Barrie’s for the characters in the play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. These relationship in the literary field helped Daphne Du Maurier to publish her first book, The Loving Spirit, in 1931. Other successful novels followed include Jamaica Inn (1936); Rebecca (1938), written in Egypt; My Cousin Rachel (1951); The Scapegoat (1957); The Birds and Other Stories (1963); The Flight of the Falcon (1965) and The House on the Strand (1969). Most of these works were made into films.

  • Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) by Jean Rhys (1890 – 1979)

Wide Sargasso Sea is a “prequel” to Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. Here the writer gives voice to Edward Rochester’s mad wife, Antoinette Bertha Mason, a white West Indian, and deals with the theme of conflicting cultures, of dominance and dependence. The protagonist is called “white nigger” by her black playmate in Dominica. She marries a controlled and domineering Englishman, Edward Rochester, follows him to his home country and ends up confined in the attic of a her husband’s country house. Jane Rhys said in an interview: “The mad wife in Jane Eyre always interested me, I was convinced that Charlotte Brontë must have had something against the West Indies, and I was angry about it.” Edward is a tormented character, who admits that “she [Bertha]had left me thirsty and all my life would be thirst and longing for what I had lost before I had found it.”. In her madness and misery Antoinette burns up the house and herself. Rhys’s answer is not solidarity between women; her heroines are victimized both by paternal men and by a society, where women fail to provide protection for each other.

Jean Rhys was born as Ella Gwendolen Rees Williams in Dominica, West Indies, but lived mainly in Europe and in England. She took up a series of jobs – chorus girl, mannequin, artist’s model – after her father died. In 1919 she left the country and lived mainly in Paris, where she began to write and where much of her early work is set. Among her first books are The Left Bank (1927), Quartet (originally Postures, 1928), After Leaving Mr Mackenzie (1930), Voyage in the Dark (1934) and Good Morning, Midnight (1939), all of them about women exploited and exploiting her sexuality at different stages of life. Neglected for about twenty years, she was rediscovered, thanks to the enthusiasm of the writer Francis Wyndham, while living reclusively in Cornwall. There she wrote Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) – for which she was made Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature – and Tigers are Better-Looking (1968). In 1974 she met Ford Madox Ford, a novelist and a critic, who helped her in her literary career. She died in 1979.

  • Mrs Rochester: A Sequel to Jane Eyre (1997) by Hilary Bailey (1936 -)

Mrs Rochester: A Sequel to Jane Eyre – Jane Eyre, now Mrs Rochester, lives the small manor of Ferndean with her husband, who is recovering and has improved his mood by being happy in love, and with their young son. But when Mr Rochester decides to rebuild Thornfield Hall, Jane haunting pasts, re-opened wounds and frightening vendettas come back and follow the Rochesters to their newly rebuilt home.

Hilary Baily is a writer and editor, first wife of well known science fiction author Michael Moorcock. In the first part of her career wrote science fiction and fantasy stories, including The Fall of Frenchy Steiner (1964); Everything Blowing Up: An Adventure of Una Persson, Heroine of Time and Space (1980); In Reason’s Ear (1965); All the Days of my Life (1984), an updated Moll Flanders (by Daniel Defoe, 1722) that begins in 1941 and ends in 1996; Frankenstein’s Bride (1995), a sequel to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; Or, the Modern Prometheus (1818) in which the scientist keeps his word and manufactures a bride for his Monster; The Strange Adventures of Charlotte Holmes: Sister of the More Famous Sherlock (1994) and Miles and Flora: A Sequel to Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw (1997) with fantastic elements.

  • Adele: Jane Eyre’s Hidden Story (2000; second version The French Dancer’s Bastard: The Story of Adele From Jane Eyre, 2006) by Emma Tennant (1937 – )

The French Dancer’s Bastard (2006) tells the life of Adele, the daughter of Mr Rochester and of the celebrated Parisian actress Céline Varens. Adèle is a homesick, unhappy eight-year-old when Edward Fairfax Rochester – quite possibly Adèle’s father – brings her to Thornfield Hall: she longs to return to the brilliant life of Paris and to her mother. Things change when the serious yet loving young governess Jane Eyre comes. Time passes: Adèle sees the birth of Jane and Mr Rochester’s unexpected love and becomes curious of the shadowy manor with its secrets. On Jane and Rochester’s wedding day, it is Adèle who gets involved in the catastrophe. Sent back to France, frightened and alone, she looks for her mother in a Paris, no longer the glamorous ideal she remembers, but a world of false beauty and cruel exploiters. She grows and learns, and at the end finds salvation and love amid the ruins of misfortune.

Emma Tennant , Scottish, daughter of 2nd Baron Christopher Grey Tennant Glenconner, spent her childhood summers at the family’s faux Gothic mansion The Glen in Peeblesshire, but she grew up in the modish London of the 1950s and 1960s. Here she worked for Queen magazine and for Vogue. At 26 she published her first novel, The Colour of Rain, under a pseudonym. Between 1975 and 1979, she edited a literary magazine, Bananas, which helped launch several young novelists. She has written thrillers, children’s books, fantasies, and several revisionist of classic novels, including a sequel to Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen called Pemberley. In later years, she wrote her autobiographies – Girlitude and Burnt Diaries (both published in 1999), the second about her affair with Ted Hughes. The Autobiography of the Queen, written with Hilary Bailey, was published in October 2007.

  • The Eyre Affair (2001) by Jasper Fforde (1961 – )

The heroine of The Eyre Affair is Thursday Next, a girl who lives between the boundaries of time and space: her uncle has invented a sort of time machine which permits her to enter a novel…. physically. But the invention falls into wrong hands and a wicked criminal, Acheroon Hades, succeed in kidnapping Jane Eyre while sleeping. Thursday Next she has to fight against criminal corporations and challenge Acheron Hades. Not only, her inquiries take her back to Swindon, where her first never-forgotten love is still living. Fforde’s heroine’s adventures between the parallel worlds keep the reader’s perpetually alive among history, literature and cuisine.

J. Fforde a Londoner , son of the 24th Chief Cashier for the Bank of England (he signed sterling banknotes); most of his relatives are famous in the literary field. His early career was spent as a focus puller in films, including The Trial, Quills, GoldenEye, and Entrapment. He published The Eyre Affair, in 2001, the first of a series of novels starring the literary detective Thursday Next . In 2005 he published The Big Over Easy (2005), a remake of his first novel Who Killed Humpty Dumpty? a Nursery Crime set in the future, with the investigations of DCI Jack Spratt as a protagonist. The work has been followed by The Fourth Bear (2006) based on the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears and The Last Great Tortoise Race (2014). Other successes are The Last Dragonslayer (2010) and Shades of Grey (2011).

  • Jenna Starborn (2002) by Sharon Shinn (1957 -), a science fiction story

Jenna Starborn – Jenna is Jane and Mr. Ravensbeck is Mr. Rochester. The story is set in the far future. Jenna is one of many babies who are grown in gen-tanks, commissioned by her “Aunt” Rentley. When Aunt Rentley conceives a baby boy on her own, she starts abusing Jenna till the social services removes her from her Aunt’s custody and sends her to engineering school. After graduating, she applies for a job managing the technology at Thorrastone Park, where she meets the enigmatic and fascinating Mr. Ravenbeck. The description of the society – stratified in terms of class and in terms of technological origin (gen-tanks, cyborgs) – appears quite realistic and the story of the mad wife is absolutely horrifying, putting both the wife and Mr. Ravensbeck in a deeply sympathetic light

Sharon Shinn (1957 -) American, writes novels for adult and young adult readers combining aspects of fantasy, science fiction and romance. She works as a journalist in St. Louis, Missouri and is a graduate of Northwestern University. Among her works are the series of Shifting Circles, Samaria, and the Twelve Houses, and a rewriting of Jane Eyre, Jenna Starborn.

  • Jane Rochester (2002) by Kimberly A. Bennett

Jane Rochester begins where Jane Eyre ends, with the wedding between Mr. Rochestre and Jane wedding and follows the couple primarily through their tumultuous first year of marriage at Ferndean. The life of the couple is not very easy: Rochester is depressed because of his injuries and Jane has difficulties in facing her new situation as a wife who has married an experienced man. She appears worried and confused, but her husband is tender and patient. The book present some sex scenes but they are not in details: they are just a natural extension of marriage life.

Jane Rochester is the first novel by Kimberly A. Bennet, American writer. She has published also (2011) Soiled Doves, a series of historical poems set in a Seattle working-class brothel in 1910. The poems, based on historical documents, are dramatic monologues in free verse, and mainly focus on women who worked in the legalized brothel giving them the chance to tell their true story.

  • La Bambinaia Francese (2004, Eng.: The French Child) by Bianca Pitztorno (1942 -)

The French Child is a feminist novel based on Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre from the point of view of Celine Varen, the young French daughter of Mr. Rochester. In a very cold winter night Sophie, daughter of a typographer and a tailor, faints for hunger in the house of Celine Varens, the etòile of the opera in Paris. After losing her parents, Sophie starts working as a governess in the dancer’s house and then, at 14, she saves the life of the dancer and of her daughter from their French and English persecutors.

Bianca Pitzorno ( Sassari 1942 – ), lives and works in Milan. Famous for her novels for teenagers she is also UNICEF ambassador. After graduating in Italian literature, she specialized in cinema and television and she worked for cultural programs in RAI. From 1970 to 2011 B. Pitztorno published about fifty essays, translations and novels for children and adults including Ascolta il mio cuore, Polissena del Porcello, La casa sull’albero, La voce segreta and L’incredibile storia di Lavinia. Her stories are about everyday life of children and teenagers in our time told with humor and realism.

  • Jane Airhead (2010) by Kay Woodward

Jane Airhead is about Charlotte, a teenager who attends Harraby Comprehensive and who loves Charlotte Bronte’s story of Jane Eyre: the gothic atmosphere, the passionate and mysterious male hero, Mr. Rochester….She dreams to live in a Gothic mansion in the Yorkshire countryside and to meet the man of her life. Unfortunately her love life is quite non-existent, or better, she is attracted by Jack Burley, who doesn’t even know she exists. But if she can’t have a love story, maybe her mother can and she starts looking for a Mr Rochester….and eventually she finds him: he is the handsome new French teacher. As usual her hopes are soon frustrated: he reveals not to be properly the man she thought. Kay Woodward’s use of Jane Eyre as her references is a great homage to Charlotte Brontë, and gives the possibility to know and appreciate the classic also to the younger generation.

Kay Woodward was born in Barrow-in-Furness and went to college in Brighton. Now she is living in the New Forest with her husband and daughter. She has been publishing children’s books since 1992 – before she worked as an editor. Among her books are Wuthering Hearts – influenced by Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë – and the series Skate School.


Many versions have been made of Charlotte Brontë’s novels: the woman who is the central figure of the book, represents the eternal dilemma between love and money, love and work. She is a woman who gets her own living, who is able to reach a place in the society by herself. Besides, the fact of being a horror gothic novel, makes it an attractive and commercial product

1934 – Jane Eyre, directed by Christy Cabanne, the first silent movie which used music

1944 – Jane Eyre, a remake written by Aldous Huxley and directed by Robert Stevenson, starring Orson Wells

1970 – Jane Eyre, a TV film directed by Delbert Mann

1996 – Jane Eyre, by Italian director Franco Zeffirelli

2006 – Jane Eyre , a TV series directed by Susanna White

2011 –Jane Eyre, directed by Cary Juji Fukunaga starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbinder


Focus puller – a technician who adjusts the focus of the lens of a moving camera

Foil: One that by contrast underscores or enhances the distinctive characteristics of another (the Free Dictionary)

Language of sense impression- description of a feeling or sensation perceived through the senses.

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