Though we tend to focus on new YA literature here at Novel Novice, we also can’t help but bring things back to the classics from time to time. With the upcoming new movie adaptation of Jane Eyre, this is the perfect time to talk about Charlotte Bronte’s novel.
We recently told you about an AMAZING contest for high school students in the Portland, Oregon area (details HERE — hurry! It ends 3/9) — but for any teachers or students, here are a few other ways to make Jane Eyre exciting in the classroom using both the book and the new movie:
* Read the novel, then go see the new movie version starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. Then have a classroom discussion or write an essay comparing & contrasting the book to the new movie. You can even watch some previous movie/TV adaptations for more comparison options!
* What kind of adjustments did the filmmakers make from the original novel? Why do you think they made these choices?
* Discuss the way the actors portray the characters in the new Jane Eyre movie. Are they how you imagined them while reading the book?
* How did the visual setting in the movie compare to how you imagined it while reading the book?
* Write your own theatrical adaptation of a scene from Jane Eyre and act it out in class, or film your own movie scene!
* How would Jane Eyre translate in the modern world? Compare the original novel and the new movie, with the recent novel Jane by April Lindner, which is a modernized retelling of Jane Eyre. Discuss the modernization: what works? What doesn’t? What kind of alterations did Lindner have to make in order to translate the story to a modern setting?
You can also learn more about the movie online.
We’ve also compiled an assortment of essay topics based on Jane Eyre. Feel free to use these in the classroom, or when starting your own paper for inspiration:
* In what ways do Jane Eyre fit the model of a classic Gothic novel? Explore some of the novel’s Gothic elements.
* Discuss the way women’s roles in Victorian society are explored in Jane Eyre. What sort of comments do you think the novel is making about this subject?
* How do societal roles and class play a role in the events of Jane Eyre? How would the story be different if told today? (For comparison, you can read April Lindner’s Jane, a modernized retelling of Jane Eyre.)
* Compare and contrast Rochester and St. John. How are they alike/different? What are the different options they each offer Jane?
* Discuss the role of dreams and visions in Jane Eyre. How do these supernatural elements play out in the novel’s realistic setting?
* How does Jane compare to Bertha Mason? Though at first they seem completely different, do they share similarities? What do these similarities reveal to us about the characters?
* Based on his behavior, do you think Rochester is a sympathetic character or unsympathetic? Why/why not?
* There are many autobiographical elements to Jane Eyre. Discuss how the novel relates to Charlotte Bronte’s real life.
For the comments: Have you read Jane Eyre? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!
These are some great ideas! Another teacher’s resource I like, especially for Jane Eyre, is Shmoop; it has reading quizzes, assignments, activities, and other resources like pop culture references relating to the book. What I particularly liked was the fact it provides a lot of resources on Charlotte Bronte herself, bringing in opinions and research by different scholars and critics.