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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Jane Eyre is a gripping four-part drama, adapted from Charlotte Brontë's classic novel, and has some frightening scenes, including the mistreatment of a young child. It is set in the mid-19th century and follows the experiences of the orphaned Jane (Ruth Wilson) as she grows up to become a governess at a country estate. Mild violence and peril include frightening visions, suicide, and the abuse of a child -- they are pulled aggressively by the ear and hit with a book. Characters are shown to be seriously physically and mentally ill, and close-up injuries and dead bodies are shown. Religion features quite strongly, with mention of the devil and hell. Wealth and class are mentioned frequently, with prestige placed on both. Characters are, on occasion, seen drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes. There is one very brief instance of sexual intercourse, though it involves no nudity. Adult themes and a serious, often tragic story make this unlikely to appeal to younger viewers.
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What's the Story?
In JANE EYRE, young orphan Jane (Ruth Wilson) is mistreated by her aunt and cousins and placed in an orphanage. When old enough, she advertises as a governess and is hired by a brooding, reclusive man called Rochester (Toby Stephens). Both haunted by troubles from their past, the two develop an unlikely relationship, but a secret locked away in within the crumbling walls of the mansion threatens to tear them apart.
Is It Any Good?
A story regularly adapted for stage and screen, this four-part drama remains faithful to the original classic novel by Charlotte Brontë. The setting of this 2006 version of Jane Eyre perfectly captures the tone -- in turn dark and claustrophobic, then wild and unpredictable, moving between the bleak, endless moors, the fading gothic grandeur of the mansion's interiors, and the gloomy, shadowy spaces of the orphanage. Nightmarish visions of childhood trauma and billowing, banshee-like presences are brought to vivid life as they stalk the characters' minds, the show refusing to turn too far from the harsh realities of the book.
Wilson was nominated for a Golden Globe as Jane, all stoic control until she's challenged by her deep need to be loved, flashes of fear, and desire. It's an excellent portrayal with Wilson adding depth and complexity throughout. Stephens' Rochester is more amiable than usual, less the tortured, overbearing recluse and more the weary bachelor looking for something more real than the polished society surrounding him. Dark, devastating, and undeniably gripping throughout, this sits confidently among the prolific adaptations of this literary classic.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about why the story of Jane Eyre is considered a feminist classic by many. What character strengths and traits does Jane show that means she is viewed as such a strong female role model, even today?
Did you find any of the scenes frightening or intense? If so, which ones. Discuss some of the techniques used to create atmosphere in the show.
How does the film explore the past and the way in which it impacts the present?
How does this version of the story compare to other versions you may have seen or read? If you haven't read the original book, did this TV series make you want to?
- Premiere date: January 21, 2007
- Cast: Ruth Wilson, Toby Stephens, Lorraine Ashbourne
- Network: HBO Max
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Book Characters, Great Girl Role Models
- Character Strengths: Courage, Integrity, Perseverance
- TV rating: TV-PG
- Last updated: February 16, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Strength of character triumphs in Bronte's masterpiece.
Drama based on classic novel is moody, complex.
Wuthering Heights (1939)
Best version of the Gothic-romance revenge tale.
For kids who love adaptations
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