American filmmaker Cary Joji Fukunaga’s adaptation of Jane Eyre is just one of many of Charlotte Brontë’s well-known novel. However, it stands out in its emotional impact and its intense yet delicate portrayal of the protagonists. 


Jane (played by Australian actor Mia Wasikowska) is orphaned in her youth. Scorned by her affluent aunt, she is sent away to a dreadful boarding school. However, the young Jane is characterised by her resilience and feels equal to those of higher social status. Her challenging experiences enable her to connect with Edward Rochester (played by Irish-German actor Michael Fassbender), whose mysterious past also haunts him. When Mr. Rochester employs Jane as a governess on his estate, the two fall in love.

Jane Eyre


Jane Eyre is a novel ahead of its time. It defies the notion that seemingly predictable roles and dynamics, such as a working young woman falling in love with her older, intriguing, wealthier master, imply superficial or nefarious motives. The story of Jane Eyre explores themes such as class and womanhood while also being one of the most memorable romances in world literature.

class distinctions

To portray the class distinctions between the characters, it was crucial to use appropriate language. Director Cary Joji Fukunaga highlights the significance of getting the accent right.

Cary Joji Fukunaga (American accent): I think Jane Eyre is a story, that, amongst the many themes, class definitely plays a role in it. And so the accent defines which class they’re from. For example, Rochester being from the gentry, needs to have an accent, it’s more of the Received Pronunciation, which is the Queen’s English. And Jane and Mrs. Fairfax — Judi Dench’s character, it’s not the lower class, but it’s not the gentry either. So there’s a bit of refinement there, but there’s also a very regional flair to it. And then everyone else who is the servant class  what they call broad regional accent.


Mia Wasikowska’s challenge was to bring complexity and vivacity to a character that the public may already feel they know.

Mia Wasikowska (Australian accent): It’s a real testament to her character and the story that people still connect with her now. Unlike an original character where the audience takes them for what you give them, with Jane people have an idea of who she is and and they really know her character. So there was an obligation to hopefully deliver or that people connect and believe you as her.


When casting the film, Fukunaga was aware of the importance of gender roles in the story. As he explains, the character of Jane has left her mark on history.

Cary Joji Fukunaga: Fassbender brings a lot of masculine energy to the role, which is exactly what I was looking for in terms of finding a man’s man actor. He brings a sense of intelligence, but also I think of pathos. I’m not sure if I would describe Mia or Jane as being fragile. There’s a sensitivity there and an understanding of hardship, and with Mia equal to Jane, the character, there’s a sense of intelligence and curiosity and passion. But it’s young, it’s naive still. So maybe the fragility comes out in her naiveté, but I don’t think she’s fragile by any means. She might be estimated to be fragile, but actually I think you find her  as a person, also Jane Eyre as a character, very strong.