Monday, September 28, 2009

The Bronte Sister Books

Well, I've finished Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights (WH). It amazes me how different it is from Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre (JE). WH was written first but JE was published first. JE was an immediate best seller and WH was mostly panned.

Now, I fell in love with JE the first time I read it and reread it, so I was hopeful I would also like WH. I was very disappointed. Now, I don't mind that it doesn't have a happy ending the way JE does and I don't mind that, though both are written by a woman, WH is narrated by a man. I don't mind how flawed all the characters are nor how confused I found myself for the first 100 pages or so.

But, it did bother me that one of the lead characters seems to fail to be true to character. And it bothers me just how many stupid mistakes characters make. But what really drives me crazy and bothers me so immensely about WH is what is considered to be love.

In JE, real love is recognized to be that which can only exist within the decrees of God. It cannot be true love if it casts aside all of God's laws. Jane struggles immensely with this. She accuses herself of making the one she loves into an idol and blames herself for her pain and downfall with this sin as her culpability. In WH, there is no self-chastisement. No remorse or regret. Many accusations and much blame is placed only on others. WH has a much more childish, immature and selfish understanding of love where the surviving lover doesn't hesitate to condemn the deceased beloved simply for dying and leaving the survivor to the torment of life without his beloved. I was stunned to read such a selfish account of "love" and yet the book takes great pains to emphasize this relationship as a passionate love. JE has a much more mature understanding of what love is.

JE also has a greater respect for God and the Christian religion whereas WH pretty much disregards all religion. In WH, heaven IS being with the person you love even if that is in hell. It is almost like WH was written by an infatuated teenager rebelling against family and faith while JE was written by a mature adult who has learned that the traditions of faith and the morality of the Christian religion are priceless guides to the choices of life and true love can only exist in cooperation with He who IS Love.

No, I did not like WH. In addition to my critical complaints against it, I also found the language disturbingly violent and harsh and the amount of mental reflection, description and maturing or changing of characters sadly lacking.

But I'm sure I will be returning to JE again.


  1. I agree, I thought most of the characters in WH were whiny brats. I *loved* Jane Eyre, though. I first read it at 17 and it remains one of my favorite books.

  2. I agree with you. WH was almost painful to read- I didn't like the characters, the story- any of it. Jane Eyre is a favorite of mine as well. I have actually been rereading it the last few days and thinking about all the all topics you brought up here- love, God, morals. I like books that can be reread often and that I discover something new in every time!

  3. I'm glad to know I'm not alone. But does anyone know then why WH is considered such a classic of literature and might be considered one of the greatest romance books in literary history? I just don't get it.