Do you think I am a machine? A Jane Eyre (2006) review

My older sister and I have just finished watching BBC One’s Jane Eyre. The novel by Charlotte Brontë has always been one of my favorites, and Rochester and Jane’s story has always reduced me to tears whenever I go back to the book. I was excited when I found out BBC had done a miniseries for it — I adored BBC’s six-part Pride and Prejudice, and to date, I have only been able to watch one other adaptation of Jane Eyre1996’s Jane Eyre starring William Hurt and Charlotte Gainsbourg (which was alright, but rather lacking).

2006 Jane Eyre

So I looked forward to this miniseries rather avidly. Ruth Wilson, while not pretty, seemed to be a bit more “colorful” than how I’d always envisioned Jane (strong brows, and overall a vibrant face); and Toby Stephens was bordering on pretty, which definitely wasn’t Rochester! But hey, it was BBC, I was sure it was going to be alright.

And it was, overall. The start was a little rocky — I couldn’t decide whether or not it was too slow or too rushed. Looking back at it, I think it was just right — it captured the feel and the mood of the book rather well. Like the flurry of activity and bright and vibrant scenes that’s in Pride and Prejudice — which fit the tone of the book — with Jane Eyre you have an a melancholy, reflective, and rather morose tone.

Ruth Wilson was fabulous, in my opinion — she was not plain, but she fit the part rather well and I could really see the passion just underneath Jane’s skin. She captured the character really well. I’d always thought Charlotte Gainsbourg looked the part the most, but she was a bit too… un-passionate, somehow. Ruth Wilson, now — she was all emotions and feelings held in check.

While Toby Stephens was a bit too rude at the start, and (in my opinion) not brooding enough, he also did well — he’s a very convincing Rochester. It is rather nice to see a laughing Rochester alternating with his dark moods, it gives you the feeling that that person is just underneath, wanting to be out, wanting the light. Like as if he was really rather boyish at heart, but he’s had so much pain and disappointment that it’s been buried, and that his life has been on hold for the longest time.

And oh, I loved St. John. He is quite pretty, and you can see a lot of the repression going on. I suppose this is the one time where I felt like St. John is such a waste. I never really cared much for him before, but after watching the fourth (and last) episode I felt sad that he was just too severe.

I love the scenes, and I love the acting. Everything was rich and passionate. The script was… alright, I suppose. But that’s the most I can give it. I did not care much for it, because I feel like every phrase I’d been wanting to hear has not been said. I can understand rephrasing it to be much more understandable and relevant, but I felt sad at some of the minor things, like changing some phrases, some words, and whole dialogs. (It is weird, I know, but I felt absolutely jarred when Jane said “Do you think I am a machine?” as opposed to “Do you think I am an automaton?”) Where did their absolutely cute conversation about St. John and Rochester not feeling “worthy” enough to ask Jane to marry him because of his deformities go? I know it was there, but that whole scene was different. I didn’t like how that scene went, quite frankly, like the rather different scene where Rochester is trying to get Jane to stay. It was very sensual though, and if you’re taking the miniseries by itself, it’s a good scene.

In any case, thankfully I’m not too much of a purist, and I did enjoy the adaptation — I’d watch this again, definitely. It’s definitely a must-see, whether or not you’re a Jane Eyre fan. Quite well done!

(In case anyone’s wondering, I’ve also decided that I’m going to also write book reviews or adaptation reviews here. I am obviously not a real critic, so all my “reviews” are mostly personal takes on the book/adaptation.)


  • I too have read the book and it’s definitely my favourite book. However after watching the 2011 version, I found the BBC version disappointing. Somehow the characters didn’t grow on on me, whereas the 2011 one was fantastic and you could really relate to the charaters. The actors are also better in the 2011 one.

  • […] on the skill of the actors and the screenwriter. For example, there was a bit of flack about the BBC 2006 Jane Eyre adaptation being rather, well, “forward”, but I thought it worked well, and I enjoyed the TV […]

  • Hello Elenore!

    I’m glad you started reading it after watching the miniseries! There’s been a lot of debate, really, about how adaptations never really feature an ugly Mr. Rochester or a very plain Jane. I think, however, that there may be just a big difference between what we think is beautiful/handsome and what people in those times thought; so in our heads Jane/Rochester might very well be pretty/handsome but to them they’re not (not blond/grecian/voluptuous/etc).

    I have to agree about Wuthering Heights (omgdrama), but you should try Tenant — I quite like it and I like it second of the Bronte novels, and it does rank somewhere in my list of favorite books :)

  • Elenore said:

    I absolutely loved Jane Eyre. I started reading it after watching Part One and have now read it almost 6 times. I’ve seen part two and loved it even more.
    I’ve seen it now twice (we taped it).

    I agree with you on the fact that in the book Mr Rochester is portrayed as ugly when in the show he is portrayed as quite nice looking. (I think anyway…)

    I think that Charlotte Bronte is the best of the three sisters. I couldn’t get into ‘Wuthering Heights’ and I haven’t even attempted ‘Tennant at Wildfell Hall’.

    It was strange that none else at school watched it I was very disappointed. (Noone to converse with) I’m glad there are other fans too.

  • […] As some of you might know, I’d been thinking and planning on putting book, book adaptation, and otherwise-literary-schtuff reviews here on my writing site/blog, which I started with my review of BBC One’s Jane Eyre adaptation. I have a few half-reviews written from my old site, which I also plan on putting up here at one time or another. That said, when I read on Danielle’s blog about ReviewMe, I was intrigued and I certainly wanted to see where it would go. […]