Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Bronte Sisters

Jane Eyre has been a favorite book of mine since the first time I read it, one of the first books requiring the "Instant Reread" rating.  The author, Charlotte Bronte, created so many layers in her book, but the main idea is that Jane must be true to herself no matter what.

When Jane Eyre falls in love, it's not obvious from her thoughts, where she constantly berates herself to remember her place as a tutor.  But in her conversation, she has found great friendship and love despite herself.  So when the freaky stuff comes up, the insane killer hiding in the attic, the most frightening part is Jane's reaction in responding to her own heart.  She makes choices against her heart, and it's wrenchingly beautiful.  But Charlotte Bronte takes it a step further by challenging Jane's strong will-power to continue her self-denial to another level.

Her sister, Emily Bronte, wrote Wuthering Hights, which is so often quoted throughout the Twilight books. I had read a summary of Wuthering that described two people in different marriages pining after each other, which.... well, ugh.  I finally read it this year (for $.95 on Kindle) and, well, my first thought upon finishing was "well, huh", which is not a big improvement on "ugh".

It is the story of deep love and friendship, only the characters don't value each other or anyone else around them. They are completely selfish and their decisions are based on money and society.  The crazy twist is that they can't stop loving each other regardless of their decisions.  Catherine is only happy with Heathcliffe and Heathcliffe re-arranges multiple lives around his love for her and torturing everyone else.  It is incredible how carefully he plans his revenge and I really felt like it was all her fault.

Stephanie Meyer put a lot of references to Wuthering Heights in the Twilight books (which are loved and hated so strongly everywhere, it's crazy. Either way, they are a new reference point.)  Bella read and reread the classic, and she really reacted to Catherine's self-centered focus.  Instead of loving Jane Eyre, where she might have left Forks, herself, she loved Wuthering Heights and romanicized the idea of a love that would kill her in the end.

I did not have to read either of these classics in school.  I am glad because maybe I wouldn't like them as much as I do now.  There is genius in their writing, in the creating of characters and the inner conflicts and how they fell in love despite themselves.  Neither books are fast-paced because of when they were written.  But they haunt the reader for a long time afterwards.
Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre is one of my all-time favorites forever.  She loved so passionately and was true to herself contrary to everyone and everything around her.  This book is to me one of those incredible hidden gems, lost under the dust of "required reading" and the "classic" title.

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