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Picturing Charlotte Brontë’s Artistic Rebellion? Myths of the Woman Artist in Postfeminist Jane Eyre Screen Adaptations

Han, Catherine Paula 2020. Picturing Charlotte Brontë’s Artistic Rebellion? Myths of the Woman Artist in Postfeminist Jane Eyre Screen Adaptations. Adaptation 13 (2) , pp. 240-269. 10.1093/adaptation/apz034
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Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre: An Autobiography (1847) has been regularly adapted for the screen since the silent era. During the 1990s, a trend emerged in which cinematic and television versions of Brontë’s novel paid increased attention to the protagonists’ identities as amateur artists. To explain this phenomenon, this article examines Jane Eyre (Franco Zeffirelli, 1996), Jane Eyre (ITV/A&E, 1997), Jane Eyre (BBC, 2006), and Jane Eyre (Cary Fukunaga, 2011). It proposes that these productions contribute to the evolution of Brontë’s authorial mythology by heightening their heroines’ similarities with the writer, another amateur artist. In so doing, these adaptations benefit from the reputations of Brontë and her work as rebelliously feminist. Nevertheless, these women artists’ rebellions are distinctly postfeminist. To demonstrate its argument, the article contextualizes contemporary Jane Eyre adaptations within their postfeminist cultural landscape. Postfeminism, however, is a contested term. Hence, this analysis participates in broader debates that interrogate postfeminism as a concept and its persistent fascination with nineteenth-century creative women. Through comparisons of the adaptations, this article will delineate the development of the woman artist trope to reveal how postfeminist conceptualizations of women’s creativity have shifted since the 1990s. In particular, the woman artist displays an increased desire to ‘return home’. Such retreatist narratives exploit but also obscure the fact that Brontë has long signified the perceived tension between traditional, highly domestic female gender roles and women’s creativity. As such, these postfeminist adaptations have a shaping effect on the myths that continue to circulate about Brontë’s feminism and authorship.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Uncontrolled Keywords: Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, woman author, myth, feminism, postfeminism
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 1755-0637
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 9 April 2020
Date of Acceptance: 30 December 2019
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2020 13:52

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