I've been inspired to spew my thoughts on this finally. I wanted to take the
time to re-read and read all the works of Bronte and Austen so that I would be buffed up on my thoughts but I'm a busy homeschooling mom of three and let's face it, there is no time for my literary analysis sessions.
So, let it be said that I'm going from my impression from past reading. Rick and I are in the middle of watching the Masterpiece Theater version of Jane Eyre that just came out. Now, you have to know, Jane Eyre is my all time favorite book in the world next to the bible and C.S. Lewis. I am a hard core fan. So, the movie has to be good, real good. My favorite (as you will see in my profile) is specifically the Timothy Dalton BBC version of Jane Eyre, but yes, it's getting dated. So far, this one has me in Jane Eyre heaven, I LOVE IT! I even love the Mr. Rochester in it, and that's a hard thing to say. Mr. Rochester is to me almost more important a character in the book than Jane Eyre herself, and next to my husband, my biggest heart throb. Forget Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp step aside, Mr. Rochester is the stud of all time (did I say next to my husband yet:). Thankfully, he is not even real, so I'm okay right!? I've been impressed with the character since I first read the book at 14 or 15.
Yet, on to my whole Bronte/Austen comparison. Here is the shocking conclusion ladies and I realize that I may shake up you Austen fans a bit. (Donna, help!?) Especially as Austen has been loved and highlighted in christian women circles. She seems so modest...but is she? Well, yes, but...
Jane Austen is the soap opera of her time. Plain and simple.
Her books are wonderful, and a great read, no doubt, but they do center around a romantic dilemma where Bronte centers around a moral dilemma which therefore effects the romantic dilemma. Many people refer to the Bronte books (by sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne) as "dark". Well, people, life is dark. Life is not all romantic dilemmas of misunderstandings and girly dramatic assumptions as to what the male species is thinking. Life is a moral challenge, a tug at your heart as to what you should do when ethics combat your emotions. Bronte does that, she reaches in and pulls at your heart. That is writing.
Notice that in all three main books "Jane Eyre", "Wuthering Heights", and "The Tenant of Wildfel Hall" there is a moral dilemma that keeps them from their love. In Jane Eyre, Mr. Rochester has married a mad woman (oops, spoiler alert a little too late:*) and yet he falls in love with a fresh sweet breeze that is Jane. His dark world is startled by the appearance of bright sunshine and warm breezes, yet, he is legally and morally tied to a woman he cannot love nor receive love from.
"Wuthering Heights" (I remember this one the least) is the moral dilemma of a man in love with a woman who toys with his emotions and marries someone else despite her love for him. What is one to do?!
"Tenant of Wildfel Hall" is about a woman who has married a violent drunk. She and her child have to leave him because of the severity of his problems. In her day and time there were not programs to enter, no support for these women. She was ridiculed and looked down upon and many wondered why she lived alone. To top it all.....she falls in love. I need to read it again really, I was around 17 when I read it last. I remember reading for a whole day to finish it. Gripping!
My point? Austen is great but she is a gentle ride on the drama queen boat. All her main characters are somewhat over-reactors to really quite simplistic situations. Bronte brings depth, she makes you face things you might not know what you would do if it were you.
"Dark" and nitty gritty, compelling, heart wrenching, triumphant, REAL...and that is good literature.
I hope you can get the Jane Eyre Master Piece Theater from Netflix...it's very good, its wonderful! (oh, I have seen part one only...I'm assuming the rest is going to be just as good as part one..I'll let you know...I'm so anxious for it to come!)