Charlotte Brontë Questions and Answers

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How can the literary elements in the 2011 film (directed by Cary Fukunaga) based on Charlotte Brontë's book "Jane Eyre," be classified as a Gothic text? How does the cinematography reinforce these literary elements and contribute to the overall tone/mood of the film?

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Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre was significantly influenced by the Gothic literature movement, which focused on mystery, suspense, death, and chaos in the context of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Gothic fiction is also referred to by the subgenre of Gothic horror, which in some cases, as in Jane Eyre, contains romance.

Gothic literature was inspired by imagination and associated gloomy, macabre, and supernatural elements of medieval buildings and ruins. Jane believes she has seen the ghost of her Uncle Reed in the red room at Gateshead where he had originally died; she later reasons that she had likely seen a lantern or been mistaken. Mr. Rochester's residence at Thornfield Hall is the novel's main Gothic setting. Both Jane and Mr. Rochester report seemingly supernatural occurrences in the old mansion, which turn out to be the very real presence of Bertha Mason, Rochester's insane wife who has been locked up in the house for years.

Cinematography in the film features extensive dim lighting in accordance with the dark elements of Gothic literature. Scenes are frequently shot in a way that contrasts exterior lighting with dark rooms. This filming technique creates strong shadows, particularly when candles are used. While watching the film, one is frequently given the sense of something malevolent lurking in the shadows, and the emphasis of darkness over color enhances the Gothic elements.

Note that mood is the overall feeling or emotion evoked by an author or filmmaker, while tone is the attitude of the author or technique of the filmmaker toward their subject. Jane Eyre evokes moods of gloominess and eeriness, while the tone of the novel and film are Gothic and romantic.

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