Click here to access all of the episodes of The Autobiography of Jane Eyre series.
The Autobiography of Jane Eyre is a webseries created by Nessa Aref and Alysson Hall and produced by Aref and Erika Babins. It first aired in 2013.
The Autobiography of Jane Eyre is a modernized retelling of Charlotte Bronte's novel. The main character, Jane, tells her story through a series of webcam videos that mimic the original narration of the Bronte's book. The story is updated to be more relatable to modern day audiences and issues. Jane's quirkiness and, at times, social awkwardness are brought to life in this adaptation. The series begins with an unemployed Jane looking for a job on Craigslist. She then becomes a live in tutor to a girl named Adele. The series depicts the crucial themes and events of Bronte's novel, but in ways relatable to a modern day society.
Many of Charlotte Bronte's original themse are represented in this webseries adaptation, but they are portrayed in a relevant and updated way. Some of these key aspects include solitude, friendship, class, and appearance.
Solitude and loneliness are greatly displayed in this adaptation. This is due in part to the fact that often the videos consist of Jane speaking directly to the camera with no one else around. This mimics the novel because in it, Jane is also telling her story directly to the reader. Jane's life is imbued with solitude, as she spent much of her time alone. From the time she was an orphaned child at Gatehead until she made her first ever friend at Lowood, Helen, Jane was alone. This loneliness is depicted in this version of Bronte's story as well. The solitude in which Jane records her videos strengthen the feeling of loneliness that she depicts throughout the series. This is seen in the third episode when Jane is waiting for her ride to pick her up and take her to her new job. Its dark and creepy, and she is all alone. While she is waiting, it is evident how alone and desperate she feels. This is also felt in the seventh episode when she recalls her friend Helen. How much she misses her friend is evident in the moments that Jane is on her own. Episode eight also memorably depicts Jane's loneliness when she goes on a walk to a duck pond by herself. It is a solitary moment in which she reflects on loneliness.
The theme of friendship relates closely to the aspect of solitude in this adaption. Friendship is the cure to Jane's loneliness, but it is also possibly something that she has not got to experience much of. This may be due to her social awkwardness that is heavily depicted in multiple episodes of the webseries. However, Jane still managed to become close friends with Helen. However, Helen died when they were students together at a private school. Unlike in the original narrative, Helen dies from cancer in this adaptation, not consumption. But the sadness Jane still feels over her death is evident, especially in the eight episode. Jane reflects on her friendship with Helen and says multiple times, “Helen would have liked today.” This shows how important friendship is to Jane. Despite the fact that Helen has been gone for years, Jane still feels an attachment and longing to be with her childhood friend. Jane also begins to develop a friendship with Adele. As her tutor, Jane is very involved with Adele's life, and they become very close throughout the webseries. Furthermore, the idea of friendship in the narrative is even more relative in this adaptation because of its modern day setting. The characters use various social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter (Rochester tweets!). This offers a new type of connectivity in relationships between the characters that was not possible in Bronte's original work.
Much like in Charlotte Bronte's novel, class is represented in this modern day adaptation. While social classes in this adaptation are not as distinctly recognizable as in the 19th Century, they are depicted in ways that make them relevant to today's society. For example, Jane's wealthy cousin John is a supposedly successful law student, at least according to his mother. He is going to become a lawyer, which elevates him to a certain professional status. Jane remarks that he owns a new BMW, which is a further sign of his wealth. However, he also crashes the car and posts a picture of it to Facebook as a joke. This shows his disregard for responsibilities and monetary value because he simply doesn't have to care about destroying his expensive vehicle. It highlights the class difference between him and Jane despite being raised together.
Class differences are also clear in the nineteenth episode. Rochester has invited his friends over and Jane is hiding out in her room. She is very reluctant to join the party. She says of Rochester's guest that they all seem like “young, socialite entrepreneurs who were probably already millionaires by the age of twenty five.” She makes it clear that she does not know how to talk to and interact with these types of people, nor does she wish to. Jane practices different, unsuccessful ways of introducing herself, such as, “Hi, I'm the nanny.” The difficulty she is experiencing in this episode shows that she is clearly aware of the class differences between Rochester's guests and herself, and that they will undoubtedly be aware of them too. This is very similar to this event in Bronte's original narrative. In the novel, Jane is equally reluctant to join Rochester and his guests when they are visiting Thornfield. The same sort of issues and difficulties are present in the original narrative. The fact that they are included in this moder day retelling of the story show that issues of class are still relevant, especially when involving Jane Eyre. This webseries powerfully depicts these differences in social classes by demonstrating them through the poor, likable Jane and the obvious insecurity that she feels when confronted by a higher class. This insecurity is in many ways relatable to modern day audiences. This scene in the webseries shows that there is a reluctance to class mingling even in today's society, much like there was when Jane Eyre was originally written in 1847. The divide between classes is apparent both in the novel and the webseries. It is also made evident that the position of a nanny or tutor has the same type of social significance and connotations that the position of governess had.
The role of appearance is seen throughout the webseries. Jane is a firm believer that character outweighs appearance. An example of this is is seen in the twelfth episode when she is talking to Rochester. In the conversation, he equates physical beauty with wealth, but Jane disagrees with him. Jane goes on to that Rochester that he “seems nice.” To this, he replies, “Seeming is not the same as being.” This shows their differing opinions of appearance. However, they both seem to be in agreement that appearances can be deceiving, and it is more important to discover the real character of the person. This moment closely relates to Bronte's novel, as well as other adatations of Jane Eyre. The issues of appearance in this adaptation also directly correlate to modern day issues of self-image. Self-image is a prominent issue in today's society, and this relates to what Jane believes. In the webseries, she teaches Adele that character is more important than looks. Again, this shows that the issues in the original narrative are still relevant today. Issues of self-image are seen multiple times throughout this adaptation.
The Canadian webseries, THe Autobiography of Jane Eyre, has 16,149 subscribers on Youtube and 2,083 followers on Twitter. On Youtube, the series has 601,987 views. In 2014, it was considered for a Streamy Award, though it did not receive one.
This unique webseries autobiographically tells the story of Jane Eyre, spanning over one hundred episodes. It is a significant adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre because it retells Jane's fascinating story by updating it in a modern day setting. It works to reinvent the story by making it relevant to modern issues and audiences, while telling it in a techhnologically modern way. The video log style of the series mimics Bronte's original narrative because it is autobiographical, like the novel, and Jane is speaking directly to viewers. Because of the modern setting, the original narrative's important and critical themes can be represented in new and exciting ways. This adds a certain appeal to the adaptation because it allows the narrative to be seen and experienced in new ways that would have been limited by the original narrative alone. Adaptation allows a wider understanding and experience of a work. By updating it to a modern setting, the story is kept alive and relevant. This adaptation also makes the character of Jane much more relatable and likable. In many adaptations, Jane is portrayed as being poised and proper to the point of almost seeming severe. But in this webseries, she is quirky, funny, and altogether probably more relatable to many viewers. This portrayal of Jane adds a bit more fun to the dark narrative. The style of the videos is also done in a way that makes them seem real, as if she is genuinely Jane Eyre. This adds to the relatability and fascination with the series.
By Olivia Taylor