The British Collection

View MATERPIECE adaptations of some of the classics of British literature. This collection includes Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility and Charles Dickens' Great Expectations. Segments from the series Queen Victoria's Empire: Engines of Change are also included.

  • Jane Eyre 1: First Impressions

    In this video segment from the 2007 MASTERPIECE adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, we get a glimpse of Jane's remarkable ability to stand up for herself and against injustice. Her aunt, Mrs. Reed, summons Jane and tells her, "You have deliberately made it impossible for me to love you." Despite her aunt's fury, Jane responds quite calmly, "You have not tried very hard…and on the day you die, God will know who's telling the truth, whatever you or I say now." Exasperated, her aunt decides to send Jane away to boarding school, run by the heartless Mr. Brocklehurst. During her interview with Mr. Brocklehurst, Jane proves herself to be not only courageous, but clever as well. When asked what she must do to avoid going to hell—the fate of "disobedient, deceitful girls"” when they die—Jane replies, spiritedly, "I must take care to keep in good health and not to fall ill, sir." Mr. Brocklehurst is appalled at her impudence. He asks her again if she is a "deceitful girl." Jane insists, "I am not a liar."

    Grades: 9-12
  • Jane Eyre 3: The Governess

    In this scene from the 2007 MASTERPIECE film of Jane Eyre, Jane has been invited to bring Adele to the ladies at a fancy dress party, including the imperious Lady Ingram and her beautiful daughter Blanche, whom everyone assumes will become Mr. Rochester’s fiancée. As the scene opens, Mr. Rochester and Lady Ingram are arguing. “If some people are rich and some poor, then that is God’s will. So be it, I am satisfied,” she tells Mr. Rochester. Blanche is annoyed and unfriendly towards Adele and, when the conversation turns to governesses, her mother declares, “…governesses are a nuisance, all of them.” Blanche laughs carelessly about a trick she played on one of her governess. “We were very naughty,” she says, “She was so boring, poor thing.” Jane observes the conversation silently, but she is hurt and insulted by their disdain and disgust.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Jane Eyre 2: Meeting Mr. Rochester

    In this scene from the 2007 MASTERPIECE film of Jane Eyre, Jane is walking alone on the moors. The mood is tranquil, yet there is a hint of foreboding. Suddenly, Jane’s quiet contemplation of nature is crosscut with the image and sound of a horse galloping thunderously. The music changes, and we know something dangerous is about to happen. Out of the mist comes a riding figure. Before Jane can move out of the way, the horse rears up. We see the horse on the ground, and the man yells at a dog, “Quiet, Pilot. Dammit!” Jane asks, “Are you injured, sir?” The man replies harshly, “Get away from me. Witch. (You’ve) done enough damage.” Jane identifies herself, but Mr. Rochester does not. Leaning on Jane for support, he gets back on his horse, groaning. “That’s what happens when you bewitch a man’s horse, Miss Eyre,” he says, “a lot of pain and cursing.” Jane, although shaken by the incident, corrects him: “I did not bewitch your horse, sir.” When he orders her home, she says, with a tiny bit of defiance in her voice, that first she will finish her errand.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Sense and Sensibility 1: Dinner at Norland Park

    Within the first 10 minutes of this 2008 MASTERPIECE adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, we learn much about the plot, characters, and meaning of the novel. After the death of Henry Dashwood, his widow and their three daughters—Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret—are forced to see their grand home, Norland Park, taken over by Henry’s son by a former marriage, John, and his wife, Fanny. As family members share an elegant dinner, the dialogue helps to establish not only each character’s distinct personality, but also the mood, tone, and trajectory of the story.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Sense and Sensibility 2: Barton Cottage

    In this scene from the 2008 MASTERPIECE adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, the Dashwood sisters and their mother first see their new home, Barton Cottage, a simple dwelling set against the tumultuous north Devon coast—and the viewer experiences it with them. As the camera swoops over the untamed sea, the cottage first appears large, then insignficant when set against the vast landscape. The Dashwood family, now very far away from the “civilized” world of society, is on its own. As we follow the family as they enter the cottage, each character’s reaction—Mrs. Dashwood is overwhelmed, Marianne pronounces it “romantic,” and Elinor is practical—reinforces what we already know about their personalities.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Sense and Sensibility 3: The Proposal

    The romance between Edward and Elinor is, for many, the heart of Sense and Sensibility, and Edward’s proposal serves as the climax of the 2008 MASTERPIECE adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. From the moment Edward arrives at the cottage, there is a palpable sense of suspense. As the scene unfolds—Edward declares his love and Elinor accepts amidst tears of joy—the happiness that the characters experience is so real and powerful that we find ourselves cheering them on.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Great Expectations 1: Setting the Scene

    This video excerpt is the opening scene from the 2012 MASTERPIECE adaptation of Charles Dickens's Great Expectations. A man mysteriously emerges from a marsh to ominous music. A young boy, Pip, is shown briefly in a church graveyard, reading the sad gravestone of his parents and five brothers and sisters. Suddenly frightened, Pip runs off, but not to safety. Instead, he goes towards the marsh, right into the path of the hulking escaped convict Abel Magwitch, who is coated with grime and mud. Magwitch grabs Pip. "Scream again," Magwitch says to Pip, "and I’ll cut your throat."

    Grades: 9-12