Monday, May 5, 2008

Jane Eyre versus Wuthering Heights


Bookseller Jocelyn G. writes today's post.

I am OK with the fact I have lived this long and just gotten around to reading Jane Eyre (you notice I can't say 're-reading'), by Charlotte Bronte. I'll let your imagination run wild with just exactly how long that has been. At first I figured I was just the last person on the planet to read this classic- until I started confessing. Funnily enough, most people got that vague, evasive look in their eyes as they assured me 'yes, oh yes, of course I've read it- but awhile ago'. I think NOT. Let's face it: Jane Eyre has gone out of style. What else can I think since it wasn't required reading in my high school or college? So the reason I'm talking about it now is- I liked it. Yes, it's a bit old fashioned but that's not so terrible. Not every book that involves a romance has to be all about tearing clothes off, either (this one isn't, so if that's the only reason you want to read it, might as well skip it). Another reason I'm bringing up Jane Eyre is to compare it to Wuthering Heights, written by Charlotte's sister Emily. I had to read Wuthering Heights for my book club. (Notice, dear reader, I again have to say 'read, not re-read'.) (And my mother was an English teacher...)So I read Wuthering Heights, complaining the whole way. Emily Bronte obviously has a different style of writing and perception about what makes entertaining reading from sister Charlotte. I have to confess I didn't see the point of that book even once I had finished it. Burnt oatmeal, darkness and violent misery pervade each chapter. That there was the slightest lifting of gloom by the last pages wasn't enough to salvage that book for me. Inbreeding, poverty, and bad weather are bad for your health-- big news flash. Add heartbreak to the list for this book's purposes.
So- if you find yourself wanting to brag about something, I say read Jane Eyre. It gets more interesting the further you get into it. It will make you appreciate your upbringing (which can't help but have been better than hers was) and will enable you to name-drop a recently read (or yes, re-read) classic with confidence.
And you don't have to read Wuthering Heights- count your blessings.

If you want to compare these two classics for yourself: Jane Eyre. Wuthering Heights.

9 comments:

marmalade.sunrise said...

You know, I'm the opposite. Wuthering Heights is one of my absolute *favorite* books of all time, and I find Jane Eyre very hard to get through, even after several readings. It's not that I don't like Jane Eyre, but I think that Wuthering Heights is the superior work.

Anonymous said...

I have just finished reading Wuthering Heights on my own account (not as a required english assignment or such) and it was... honestly one of the best books I have ever read.

Sadly I have not read Jane Eyre YET but that shall be my next project, as soon as I can get my hands on it. Thankfully I have not waited for old age to prompt me into picking up the Bronte sisters, but then again I have always been an avid reader. It is so sad that this generation has forgotten the joys of a BOOK, with all these electronic gadgets taking over.

Sarah Inskeep said...

That is EXACTLY how I feel about Wuthering Heights! Jane Eyre is one of my favorite classics, so I read Wuthering Heights hoping it would be similar; I was disapointed. THey did not write the same at all. However, Anne Bronte's Tenant of Wildfell Hall was similar to Jane Eyre in some ways...

Anonymous said...

I've read both, upon my own account also :)
I loved both intensely, though i did prefer wuthering heights, their love was not idolised they were real people with real faults. Jane Eyre was very good too except Jane was annoying from time to time it was very enjoyable.
I would suggest both books to any book lover !

Laura said...

I loved both books but jane eyre got to me more.
Charlotte really got into her character as opposed to Wuthering Heights which i felt was more like a series of events.
I'm 16 and read both books last year. It wasn't for shcool or anything, I was given the books by my grandmother in their tattered small print form (which completely added to the story!). None of my friends would admit to reading these books unless it was for school. I find this disappointing but I think these books should only be read for pleasure and not homework assignments. English class has a way of turning you off a masterpiece. Read Jane Eyre in your spare time....It's definetly worth it!! Can anyone recommend another book by one of the sisters in this style?

Anonymous said...

I recently read Diane Setterfield's novel The Thirteenth Tale. It was just published a few years ago, but it has a very similar style to Jane Eyre... I strongly recommend it.

epyllion said...

Try Villette (by Charlotte)--for something quite different from Jane E in many ways--crossing international borders and language/culture barriers--and also going a little insane for love. Each one by Charlotte is a little different from the others.

Anonymous said...

I pretty much worship Jane Eyre... It's amazing every time I read it.

Wuthering Heights was more poetic and more gracefully written though, I think. Sometimes I think Emily must have professionally studied psychology or something. But for some reason I didn't get it much... It was a little weird at times and hard to sympathize with.

Anonymous said...

Wuthering Heights is a masterpiece. Jane Eyre...not so much.