Abstract

Sarah Shoemaker’s Mr. Rochester, a recent adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, disputes understandings of women’s selfhood as promoted by Jane Eyre and Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea. By attributing the cause of Bertha Mason’s mental illness to disrupted maternity and not allowing her to articulate her loss fully to a compassionate listener, Shoemaker’s adaptation upholds the Victorian gender ideals which Brontë’s novel challenges and ignores the efforts of Wide Sargasso Sea to allow Bertha a voice. The positive reception of Mr. Rochester among readers signals that the politics of a source text may matter less than characters and plot to readers and writers of neo-Victorian adaptations. To understand how and why the reading public values Victorian novels today, scholars must critically examine adaptations and their fidelity to their source texts.

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