Virginia Jones thinks out loud about Charlotte and Emily….


Image from Harper’s “Bronte on Convention and Morality” – September 2007

Charlotte’s Jane Eyre is resolutely optimistic. Perhaps the oldest kid in every family carries the burden of optimism. Strong moral character will triumph! Redemption (albeit through debilitating and disfiguring fire) is possible. Love and devotion are, in fact, two legs of the same animal. Emily is not so optimistic, but this does not make the romance of Wuthering Heights any more realistic. Both women wrote subversive melodrama, both clung to romantic extremes and though both questioned the power of men and subjugation of children and women, both settled for only a slight revision to woman’s place within the system. For both, resolutions demanded violent purging of moral transgression, and yet the phoenix that rises from the last chapters of these two books looks strikingly like the bird that perished one hundred pages in.

Image from Monthly Review’s – July 2007


1 Comment

  1. Great points. Though I love both Emily and Charlotte dearly, I am frustrated by the smallness of their women’s reach. Can I hold this against them? Should I? Especially in light of the ideas Mary Wollstonecraft was churning. “Vindications” is phenomenal and should be required reading.

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