Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Bronte,along with their brother Branwell, were highly educated by their clergymanfather. While growing up particularly alone, the four siblings usuallyentertained each other with elaborate storytelling games. As they becameadults, all three Bronte sisters would then publish novels that have beenconsidered masterpieces. Though the two best known are Emily’s Wuthering Heights and Charlotte’sJane Eyre, both werepublished on the same year 1847 under male pseudonyms. Jane Eyre was an immediate best seller while Wuthering Heights tooksome years to be greatly recognized and read as a masterpiece.
These two novelsshare a lot in common besides the last name of their authors, such as elementsof gothic novel and a Byronic hero. They greatly differ in many important ways,for instance Charlottes positive view of the world and human nature. The Gothic novel alone became popular in the 18th and 19thcentury due to their spooky settings, isolated old castles or grand houses ingeneral. They seem to have this dark and moody tone, and hidden often of taboosecrets. Jane Eyre for instance shows this in isolated settings like Lowood,Moor House, and Thornfield. The novel seems to always carry secrets, thebiggest one would be that of Rochester’s, when he’s hidden his wife Bertha. Thereare also seemingly supernatural occurrences, like when Janes encounter with theghost of her Uncle Reed. Wuthering Heights, like Jane Eyre, perhaps shows itsgothic influence most strongly in its very location.
An isolated rundowncountry house. Its central lovers, Catherine and Heathcliff, are also full offamily secrets that imperil their romance. Hinting at taboo topics likenecrophilia and incest, which is another gothic element. Heathcliff, the heroof Wuthering Heights, and Rochester, Janes love interest, have been seen as Byronicheroes. Rochester is a gentleman, in title anyway, who rejects the rules of thesocial class he was born into. Rochester is old, not handsome, rude, violent,and keeps his wife Bertha locked in the attic. Jane, who is half his age still,cannot resist him due to his honesty besides Bertha, and his passionate lovetowards Jane. Jane stated, “The ease of his manner freed me from painfulrestraint; the friendly frankness, as correct as cordial, with which he treatedme, drew me to him.
” (chapter 15) Jane goes through many tragic circumstancesbut she never lost her sense of who she is, a human being worthy of respect.She is able to hold to this sense of self as an orphan, as a young woman with apainful crush, as a dependent, and ultimately of means, a wife, and a mother.Rochester and her relationship is defined by respect, passion, and love. It iseven proven until he’s able to respect her autonomy, no amount of him swooningover her can win the day or her really. When she is most powerless, or when sheis at her most romantically passionate, she yet holds to saying, “I am no bird;and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will.” Here we see an example of how she viewed himand the impact he had on her, while at the same time having an awareness of asense of self. It was something she cherished for someone to care for herbecause of who she truly was. On the contrast in Wuthering Heights it is allabout people who are obsessed with one another that they have no sense of selfas individuals.
For instance, Catherine states “Nelly, I am Heathcliff!” and Heathcliffthroughout the novel says, “I cannot live without my life! I cannot livewithout my soul!” He wanders the moorswailing in heartbroken anguish and concocting terrible vengeances in gloomyhalls, while swept away with deep consuming passion. Heathcliff unlikeRochester did not come from such a social class and was found by Catherine’sfather and both have had a bond since children. Both lovers, sharing common traitssuch as being rude, obnoxious, and selfish. Most of all, both seemed prettymean to another unlike Jane and Rochester. On the contrast when it came to intellect and conversing on a higher-levelJane and Rochester seemed to portray this throughout the novel.
Educated andfull of knowledge, their communication intrigued readers, while contrary toCatherine and Heathcliff it is stated that Catherine was in fact not intriguedby his conversations especially after being with Edgar and seeing Heathcliff didn’thave much to offer. She in fact boldly tells Heathcliff, he is dulled inconversation, and she cannot speak much with him, since he himself says solittle. In Wuthering Heights, there doesn’t seem to be an act of true love or arelationship built upon mutual respect as in Jane Eyre, there seems to be anobsession with love itself and the need to feel fulfilled. Also, when comparing their marriages to Bertha and Isabella, Rochesterwas never abusive to Bertha despite her being mentally ill. He locked her inthe attic simply to protect her from harm. Even when the house was set on fireby Bertha herself, he risked his life to save her, when it could’ve turned intoan act where he could finally have a chance to get her out of his life for good.
In that scene is where his love and compassion for others was showntremendously. Heathcliff was abusive to Isabella Linton, and didn’t seem tocare much at all for her. Catherine also didn’t seem to mind either because shewas involved with Edgar. On the contrary, when we speak of love itself, it’shard to justify who in fact was more in love, was it Heathcliff or Rochester? As mentioned, in some way Heathcliff seemed tohave had an obsession, but this man was dragged through the mud by Catherine,messing with his emotions while at the same time knowing he was head over heelsfor her. He still seemed to maintain his composure due to the fact that he wasa servant at that house.
She unlike Jane came from a higher social class thenhim so it gave her an upper hand to treat him a certain way. Jane was agoverness and didn’t have that kind of leverage. She had to maintain this imageas a governess and not cross the line. It seems all four of these charactershave similarities and differences when comparing them each into different groups. In the passage of Wuthering Heights, we read Catherine truly confessesher love for Heathcliff stating she is Heathcliff and that he would never escapeher mind no matter the circumstance. Here we see a true confession of what is goingon in this character’s mind.
Regardless of the way she has treated Heathcliffshe seems to ultimately care and have love for him. While looking at the JaneEyre passage we see here Rochester confessing his love for Jane, asking her tomarry him and be by his side for life. Convincing her that no matter the socialclass she is a torture to him, she is all he wants and nothing else. The similaritieshere would be that these characters are of upper class and have fallen fortheir servants, and their servants have fallen for them.