Jane Eyre & Wuthering Heights

My non-scholarly, unfiltered, thoughts and review of Jane Eyre & Wuthering Heights.

I purposely read Jane Eyre right after Wuthering Heights because I wanted to compare and contrast the differences in the stories. There are many things I find interesting about these two books. But first, I find it remarkable that all three of the Bronte sisters are published authors. I have not read any of Anne Bronte’s books yet, but it is on my list.

Thoughts on Jane Eyre:

Odd things…

The age gap was very large. That he called her “Janet.” That he called her “little Jane”- I was thinking isn’t her age obvious enough, why do you have to keep emphasizing she is “little?”

What I liked…

The unfortunate events of Jane’s life are told chapter by chapter. As the reader I was rooting for something good to happen. Then she went to Thornfield and then she met Rochester= me happy. I like how strong Jane is, and also how she allows herself to change. When she first got to Lowood she was very bitter and full of anger towards her Aunt and cousins. She had every right to be, considering the neglect and abuse she received. But then she met tenderhearted Helen, who had the wisdom of a 100 year old and who could see beyond the sufferings of this life. Helen saw the bitterness in Jane, and challenged her. I like the kind of friend Helen is and how she makes Jane’s heart a little softer. I believe Jane’s friendship with Helen makes her want to be better, she admires her sweet friend. I see Jane starting to mature and deal with her hurts. She finds forgiveness and does not live in the shadow of her past. When meting her aunt on her deathbed, she has the courage and heart to forgive her; not receiving any remorse in return.

I like how Jane feels deeply and reflects often. She is not one to pushed around.  As the story is narrated by her thoughts and perceptions of the world, it is interesting to see how she deals with what comes her way, and how she interprets her feelings towards Mr. Rochester.

For a girl who had such a horrible start in life, she truly exemplifies what it means to move on and reinvent yourself. Though it is often noted how she is *not* a hansom lady, chapter by chapter I could not help see how beautiful she really is. And I believe this is because the story is a direct access into her heart and mind, it is Jane on the inside. Which this reiterates that having a beautiful heart matters more than having a face that society accepts as attractive.

I love the ending. I cried during the last couple scenes. I cried when she saw the ruins. I cried when she saw Rochester for the first time after a year. I cried when she took Rochester’s hands. I cried when she teased him as she sat on his lap. I cried when they finally married and he got his eye sight back and they had a little boy. Such a wonderful story of strife, independence, perseverance, love, and courage.

Then I watched the movie…

I hated it, completely. Maybe watching it right after reading the book was a bad idea, but I felt like it could have been so much better. I feel like they didn’t capture the love story as well as the book did, I felt like in the movie it kind of just appeared out of nowhere, whereas in the book it slowly revealed itself, and came to a climax. I wish they had included the fortune telling scene- I thought this was hilarious and so clever and sneaky of Rochester. I felt like it would have added a comical scene to the movie. Then the ending… the worst of all. And it’s because I just *love* the ending in the book. I love how there are enough pages dedicated to their reunion and conversation, and what happens after. But in the movie she just shows up, they kiss, and that’s all! It wasn’t long enough!!! I wanted a longer reunion, something more to hold on to! Book= 100% better.

Thoughts on Wuthering Heights:

I started reading the book on a Wednesday and by Thursday I was half way through. I had to take a break from it for two days because I was boiling with anger, finally the need to know the ending and not wanting to skip out the last 150 pages, I decided to finish it late Saturday night.

I shut the book at 3:17am, concluding that the only thing I enjoyed from the book was the last 30 pages when something “good” actually takes place and no one is being beaten or manipulated by the dreadful H.

I was conflicted on how to rate the book because it produced such dark, heavy emotions in me. I absolutely hated it. I hated the characters, and I hated the things that happened to them. I hated Heathcliff so much that I wanted to scream and just have him killed off for all the evil things he was doing to everyone.

I knew that he was so bad that he wouldn’t get off easy, I knew Hindley or Edgar wouldn’t kill him. He lingered right until the end, only 30 pages without him. Upon his death I let out a celebratory cry, because I had such a difficult time bearing him alive. There was no redemption for him, he died worse a man than the strange boy he was when first arriving at the heights.

None of the other characters enchanted me. If my sympathy was guided to anyone it was to poor Edgar Linton and the rough Haerton, both men who appeared to be exactly who they were, quite sincere, and minding there own business.

Catherine’s character was so weak that her own decisions basically killed her. She was easily destroyed by her attachments and obsession to Heathcliff that it disturbed me; I had no pity for her or the evil H. Even Nelly bothered me sometimes by letting herself be pushed around, back and forth as H’s chess piece, but I guess she had no ground to plant herself on, since she was serving on everyone else’s.

As much as I hated Wuthering Heights, I have to bow Bronte’s ability to create such a world that completely engrossed me. Her ability to create characters that made me cringe with hate and feel weighted with despair is a talent to be commended. She developed a skillful web of family ties that strings the reader through the entire novel; connecting the pieces, and uncovering the layers. For the characters, the circumstances, and their fate I want to give the novel a 1 star. But for her creativity in writing this work of fiction, she deserves five.

I didn’t watch the movie for this, and I have no intentions of doing it. I honour the writing, but to sit down and watch all that on a screen- *ugh*, no way.

———

Can they compare…

Both are gothic. The majority of both novels take place in large, dark houses. Both use the violent elements of nature to develop their scenes and mood. Though many similarities, the biggest difference I find between Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre is the characters. Most of the characters in Wuthering Heights are ridiculous, self-absorbed, and too involved with the supernatural, superstitious, gothic styles of paranoia. They are so wrapped up in it that they, Heathcliff and Catherine, cannot live in the present. In my opinion, they never find redemption or true happiness.

In Jane Eyre, the characters are dealt terrible blows in life- especially Jane. As a reader, I sympathized with her suffering and I hoped she would overcome it. But the suffering and mistreatment of Jane does not define her- and that is what I love about the book and her character. She seeks justice and she seeks grace. She wants to be better and she wants to have a good life. She is willing to learn. She cares about other people. She falls in love. And out of all the wonderful things she does as a young woman, the end of the story she finds her Rochester, now blind and with one less arm, and marries him out of love. As a character, she comes out of her story strong, independent, conquered, wise, glowing, admirable, and courageous. I believe she took over the story by rewriting herself into the person she wanted to become; something I cannot say for Heathcliff.

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