Dissertation Information for Donna Nudd
MPACT Status: Incomplete - Inspected
Title: "Jane Eyre" and what adaptors have done to her
Abstract: After arguing that Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre can be interpreted as a feminist romance, this study examines nineteen different stage and film adaptations of the novel to determine what effect the gender of the adaptors had on scripting choices. First, the adaptation strategies used to undermine the novel's feminist import by the male melodramatists (John Courtney-1848, John Brougham-1856, T. H. Paul-1879, Douglass and Rae-1879, W. G. Wills-1882, and Miron Leffingwell-1909) are compared to the adaptation strategies used by the only female melodramatist (Charlotte Birch-Pfeiffer-1870). Second, this study examines the way that four contemporary male adaptors rewrite Jane Eyre from Edward Rochester's perspective in a black and white film (Robert Stevenson, director-1944), a realistic play (Huntington Hartford-1956), a musical comedy (Shaper and Lewis-1970), and a realistic made-for-television movie (Delbert Mann, director-1970). Third, the scripting decisions of contemporary women adaptors are examined to determine how they succeeded or failed to dramatize Jane Eyre as a feminist romance (Shomer and Shomer-Zunser-192?, Phyllis Birkett-1929, Marjorie Carleton-1936, Helen Jerome-1937, Pauline Phelps-1941, Dorothy Brandon-1944, Jane Kendall-1945 and Constance Cox-1959). This study concludes by summarizing the differences between the men's adaptation choices and their female counterparts', and speculating as to why these differences exist. Finally, the study stands as an extensive and disturbing document of the ways that stage and film adaptors have, over a period of 140 years, censored Bronte's original feminist romantic vision.
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