Third Blog Post: Wilson Library Visit by Miller Kittrell

      On October 23, our class visited the Wilson Library and had the opportunity to observe several of the original and special editions of Robinson Crusoe, Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, and Sherlock Holmes.  In our viewing time, my group made an effort to look at one book in each section and understand the different ways in which the literature we have read in class has been presented in the past.  One piece that caught my eye was the poster for the Jane Eyre theater production.  Today, plays are not as common as movies, and viewing a form of advertisement such as the Jane Eyre piece is uncommon.  Upon inspecting the artifacts, we considered the several marketing techniques, such as the font sizes and the lack of focus on the story itself, used by the creator, to determine what we found in the poster to be successful.

        First, I want to reflect on how the sign endorses the story of the book Jane Eyre.  In 1872, it was probable that a majority of people attending the play, would not have read the book and therefore, would not know the story of Jane Eyre. Because of this, it would be necessary to include a brief summary of the story on the sign.  When you look carefully over the placard you see the powerful, one-word descriptions, such as “LOVE” and “FEAR,” for each act. The purpose of these is to grab the attention of the viewer and create a desire to watch the production. We agreed that the word selection was very persuading and would most likely have successfully drawn people to view the production.

        The second aspect that stood out is about how the poster markets the performance.  Immediately upon taking a glance at the poster, you noticed the big names followed by words so small you cannot even read them without looking closer.  This technique is very common on many ads, papers, and advertisements to get the reader to focus on main ideas without worrying about the lesser details.  What made the Jane Eyre poster different from what our group was most familiar with was the fact that it bounced from one font size to another; large, to small, to medium, etc.  When discussing as a class, we determined that the purpose is still the same as when other creators use different font sizes, but the designer for this poster, was very creative in her way of shouting out what they found important.  One of which was the name of the actor portraying Jane Eyre, Maggie Mitchell. On this particular theater poster, the actor’s name was printed in a larger print than the title, which led us to believe that the play likely was not viewed by large numbers of people.  By enlarging Ms. Mitchell’s name, who was a famous actor and in her last couple performances as Jane, the marking contributors used the technique to bring in more people to watch the show.

        Due mainly to the fact that theater posters are far less common than they were in the time period this was created, it made the work fascinating to view.  Focusing primarily on how it was used to market the play, our group determined that it was likely a successful work of advertisement as its font sizes captured your attention and brought you to recognize the lead character was to be portrayed by a popular artist.  We also felt that by giving detail about the acts of the play without giving a summary was also a good contributor when trying to attract a wide range of spectators. By the several different components of the piece we assumed the turnout to be a very successful one.