Watching But Not Reading: Limitations of First-Person Narrative in Film Adaptations of Jane Eyre

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Film adaptations of literature tend to have a bad reputation. As Brian McFarlane observes in “It Wasn't Like That in the Book...”, viewers are more likely to come out of a theater after viewing an adaptation griping about what was different or better in the book than by commenting about the film in its own right (McFarlane 6). It is rare for such films to be judged as films in their own right, and often viewers aren't looking for an adaptation inspired by the novel, but rather a completely faithful representation of the original work, in film form. However, not only is this not always possible due to time limitations, but it also overlooks all of the things possible in film that are impossible on the written page. Wendy Everett points out in “Reframing Adaptation”, that film is much more than just plot and simple narrative, with filmmakers being able to utilize “ the rhythms and nuances of the dialogue, of course, but also the film's visual images and cadences, the camera’s angels and rhythms, and the internal dynamic between and within each shot” in their storytelling (Everett 153). While literature is bound to the printed word, film is capable of creating an entire visual and audible world in which a story unfolds. Despite these additional tools at their disposal, filmmakers are faced with a distinct challenge when it comes to adapting literature with a first person narrative voice. Cinema is typically presented from a third person point of view- only a handful of films have been made using only a first person perspective due to the visual limitations and disorientation it can cause (Willmore). In cases such as Charlotte Brontё's Jane Eyre, a novel framed as an autobiography, the first person narrative voice is important, but the disorienting first person approach would not be suitable for the genre. Jane's internal thoughts and musings are central to the

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