Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Jane Eyre Vs Wuthering Heights: The battle of two gothic tales

Two of the most iconic novels of the Victorian era were written by the Bronte sisters. When they were initially released "Jane Eyre" was the most popular amoungst the public and critics of that time period. Now, thanks to modern novels that appreciate the work of Emily Bronte "Wuthering Heights" appears to be the favourite. I have always liked "Jane Eyre" and decided to finally read "Wuthering Heights" in order to decide where the novels stand from my viewpoint.

Both books are considered to be of the gothic genre and having being written in the same household I could hardly imagine the tension and competitive nature that may have played a big part in the realtionships between the Bronte sisters. Also, a third and lesser-known sister, Anne Bronte had a novel released around the same time. I hardly think it's fair to compare sisters, but now having seen many articles of the sort and finding an opinion of my own on the subject I realise that another opinion is of little matter when there are so many circulating the blogosphere on the subject.

I read "Jane Eyre" first, which definitely makes me biased against the next novel reguardless of which is better.  "Jane Eyre" was so good that for something to beat it it would have to be much better, Monstrously so. Comparing "Jane Eyre" to other Victorian novels like "Oliver's Twist" and "Sense and Sensibility" I found the quality of the writing to be so much more advanced and the story-line to be new and individualistic. It was so unexpected because I had heard all these great things about other Victorian novels that this one seemed to be the wallflower of classic literature. Low expectations always seem to make for an interesting read.

The whole plot of "Jane Eyre" seemed so different and new to me even though it was an aged story. The beginning seemed a little predictable with the hard-done-by child and reminded me somewhat of "Oliver Twist" and musicals like "annie", but the rest of the novel saw a determined woman who saves herself and her beloved, much unlike many stories which require a "Prince charming" or "fairy godmother" to save the day. I really think this is where the book won my heart. That and the awkward characters which are so honestly alike normal human beings and unlike fake rehearsed ones seen in movies and in cheap romance novels.

The characters too were unique in the fact that they were not beautiful characters, but average and possibly even considered ugly by some. By creating characters like these Charlotte Bronte has shown that you don't need to be stereotypically beautiful to be loved and that everyone is beautiful in their own way. I think this is a great message to put in a novel because it makes readers feel more secure about themselves and because it is true.

"Jane Eyre" is a big favourite of mine and I rated it 5/5 on my shelfari page. I am always recommending this book to people and comparing other Victorian novels alongside. This book literally convinced me to try out some other books by this author and to take an interest in the author's life.

"Wuthering Heights" on the other hand was a bit of a disappointment. Now before you get all nasty about it hear me out. I know that I was biased and I had high expectations, but considering the great reviews that people were giving this book how could I not?

This novel showed a lot of potential and had some very promising ideas. The idea of telling a story through the eyes of a bystander was really cool. It made the novel seem like a really interesting Victorian gothic gossip session. And it was, minus the interesting aspect. I found that the novel dragged on through the entire duration and that there was no notification of a swapping of narrators when they changed mid-chapter.

The quality of the writing was nowhere near the standard of Jane Austen, let alone Charlotte Bronte. I felt that it was possibly too victorian and was a struggle to understand sometimes because of all the heavy words that I(the reader) was bogged down in. Also there were many instances where a housekeeper or servant would be speaking in an uneducated manner in the novel, where the writer had written it in that manner. It was very poorly done and took a while to decipher. This really made me lose interest in the book.

I thought the fact that Heathcliff was actually a gypsy child, was very very interesting and that the mannerisms of his household were very wild and eccentric. These things added to the gothic feel of the novel.

The story-line was very different to "Jane Eyre" in the aspect that Jane was the hero. "Jane Eyre" is almost considered a feminist novel compared with the barbaric and male-chauvinist characters in "Wuthering Heights".

Overall I gave "Wuthering Heights" 3/5 stars. I think the novel is really overrated. It was interesting and had some pretty quirky ideas, but compared to "Jane Eyre", "Wuthering Heights" just isn't worth the read.

Your Favourite Blogger,
Natalie

29 comments:

Jenny said...

I'd have to agree in that I like Jane Eyre better than Wuthering Heights. Wuthering Heights is considered to be Emily's sort of response to Charlotte's Jane Eyre, and was in a way mocking it, which would make sense. If you haven't read Villette, it's Charlotte's more mature redo of Jane Eyre and, while I didn't find it as enjoyable a story, it's all kinds of brilliant. Anne's novels are particularly wonderful as well. Very talented sisters!

Natalievintagegirl said...

Sadly, I haven't read any other novels by the sisters yet, but I have heard great things about Anne's "the tenat of wildfell hall" and i have "shirley" sitting on my TBR pile

danya said...

I definitely prefer Jane Eyre over Wuthering Heights. Actually, I really can't stand the characters of Wuthering Heights — I've only read it once but I distinctly remember thinking both Cathy and Heathcliff were selfish and manipulative and in a weird way kind of deserved each other. But Jane Eyre I love! You can't go wrong with sardonic Mr. Rochester :D

Anonymous said...

I'm in the middle of Jane Eyre and have read Wuthering Heights twice. The first time I read Wuthering Heights, I hated it. I was constantly left in a miserable mood because of how awful the characters were. However, I began reading it again and fell in love with the book. I loved the strength of their love, and once you see that, the book really is amazing.
I must say that Jane Eyre is much easier to read than Wuthering Heights, which was complex and used bigger words if I remember correctly. I prefer Wuthering Heights since Jane Eyre almost feels like reading a child's book at the simplicity of the writing. Jane Eyre seems more focused on superstitious stuff and the scary aspect of things (such as the odd laughing) while Wuthering Heights was more in depth with deep feelings and characters that are hard to understand. Heights wasn't as scary and the most displeasing part was that of Heathcliff and his character.
I feel like Emily was much deeper, you had to look deep (which I was doing since it was a school book). and Charlotte just places everything right out there for you. I don't read many gothic books, and Wuthering Heights didn't seem as scary as Jane Eyre, So I would say that it depends on what type of person you are as to which book you would enjoy more. I prefer Wuthering Heights so far.
(P.S. I am a tenth grader that loves to read. Wuthering Heights wasn't complicated at all, not compared to some works I have read. Honestly, there were bigger and more unknown words in the autobiography of benjamin franklin)

Natalie_vintage_girl said...

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion :)

Anonymous said...

I feel like Jane Eyre, while being a great novel, simply cannot compete with Wuthering Heights on a basic original level. Never have I read anything even somewhat replicating the love (and sometimes, even hate) between Heathcliff and Cathy, although I have heard comparisons such as Twilight, which is pitiful. Healthcliff is a much more complex character than any I have read or watched in movies. I felt sympathy and hatred for him and the same time. It is a good piece of work when you are questioning your own morals and opions while reading a piece of fiction. Some might say it is too dark and ominous, or without point. I say it actually makes you think and question human emotion; love, hate, violence, human nature. I have never read a book and felt the same turmoil I felt reading Wuthering Heights; never have I felt so confused, disturbed, sympathetic,empathetic, or in touch with ANY fictional character! This book, plot, these characters left me feeling happy, sad, empty, at any particular time! No other book has surprised me and made me feel that way. Hats off to Emily Bronte, because in my opinion - any deep emotion emulated which really hits home, whether it be a happy ending or sad, is a job well done. She had some complex story lines and characters for her time. I will be forever impressed with this novel. My all time favorite :)

Bluevelvette said...

Jane eyre rocks! Mr. Rochester has so much more depth than heathcliffe and jane is so strong and has great depth too. Plus its the best love story to ever exist so far. It transcends so much: class, caste, wealth, breeding, convention, and the rigid roles of men and women. I am in love with Edward Rochester! How come i can't have someone like that to love me?!

Bluevelvette said...

P.s. and even if rochester was not traditionally handsome, he was sexy as hell

Bluevelvette said...

Your blog is cool Natalie. Good luck with it.

Natalie_vintage_girl said...

Thanks Bluevelvette. I know this is completeley unrelated, but I had Lana Del Rey's 'Blue Velvet' song stuck in my head before I saw your comment :)

Bluevelvette said...

I know who lana is and its a kick ass song done originally by a 1955 group called the Clovers. Then another guy did a cover of it in 1963 or 64. His name was bobby vinton. Now she's done a good job too. Then this crazy eccentric underground film producer/director named David Lynch (he's kinda weird like Quentin Tarantino) made a movie in 1986 called "Blue Velvet" wich is a kind of surrealistic gothic romance/crime mystery. Kind of a "film nouire (spelling?) - a dark film. It collected a group of crazy unconventional die hard fans (like me). Its my second fav film after jane eyre. I'm sure it came out before u were born (u sound very young & very cool). But u seem like u like odd interesting things especially books, movies, music etc. So check it out. Its a great movie and check out some of david lynch's stuff. Not always easy to find. ANYHOW, blah blah blah. I could go on and bore u. The point is thats where my username Bluevelvette comes from.

Natalie_vintage_girl said...

Guess I'll have to look in to it. I like to know whether the songs I'm listening to are originals or covers. and I like Tim Burton's films and they are weird, so I think I shall start shopping for some lynch. :)

Bluevelvette said...

Ya a lot of modern songs are covers which i didnt know til all that long ago. BTW another good lynch movie iz "Wild at Heart"with with Nicholas Cage & Laura Dern. Prob 15 or 20 yrs old. Kinda weird but in a good way. Tragic but happy ending. Yay! I just started reading a fanfic book LOOSELY based on jane eyre. Its the story from rochester's view. Its a trilogy by J.L. Niemann. The first one is just "Rochester" the next one is "Rochester: Consumation" the last one is "Rochester: Redemption" which is due out soon. Its supposedly based on Toby Stephens (YUM!)- from 2006 jane eyre. But i disagree on a few points. The one in this book is more of a hardass and controlling but still has good points. The order of events is different too. If u dont compare it to the original, its interesting and keepz u reading. There is some sex which kinda doesnt seem right to me, but its not gross or porno like in a cheap novel. I like to use my imagination personally. Oh well. I write too much. Boredom and addicted to blogs! Ttyl

Natalie_vintage_girl said...

Cool thanks for all the suggestions :) I agree that sex in a series based on something as classic as Jane eyre would seem weird, but I'm cool with it if it doesn't take up the whole book. I tried to read a series before where the character had sex with two people and kissed/got touch feely with two others in the first 100 pages. and the sex scenes were like 3 pages long. I thought "is there even a story-line here?". and so that book series got casted off to some relative.

Bluevelvette said...

No doubt. I'm with ya on that one. I already know what sex is. I want a good storyline that sparks my emotions and my thinking, not repeated and exaggerated descriptions of just physical pleasure. (It makes me think of a harlequin romance novel (which ive never read but i know what they are). Yuck. Only good for use with sticks as fire kindling.

BlueVelvet said...

Since jane eyre seems to be main subject of this site, just thought i'd say i'm listening to the audiobook read by elizabeth klett. I like it cuz she has the accent and you get the audiobook added affect of voice inflections u can't get by reading. U just have to kinda guess. Plus i notice things in their conversations i don't remember from just reading. It kinda makes some complicated sections of their conversations easier to comprehend. I love it. I find myself "rewinding" & re-listening to portions and getting something new from it each time if i listen carefully. Just thought i'd share. If ur interested just look up jane eyre audiobook by elizabeth klett on the net and it will bring up site.

Natalie_vintage_girl said...

i'm yet to have gotten into the audiobooks. i tend to listen to the text-to-speach function on my kindle instead. which is quite robotic

BlueVelvet said...

Iknow this site is more about the book than films but just have to say i have now seen most of the JE films and i like the 2007 the best with ruth wilson & stephens. Its a miniseries so it doesnt have to cut out big chunks of the story. As with all film adapts, it changes a few things but most all of its there even if words are changed a little. I thought it was fairly faithful except jane and rochester are not ugly. They tried to make them pleasing to the audience eye cuz thats what ppl enjoy, but they did try to convey the fact that they werent supposed to be drop dead gorgeous. I thought ruth was plain but still pretty if that makes sense. And stephens wasnt ssupposedly handsome by 1840's england male standards: fair hair & eyes, thin, tall, & slightly feminine (yuck btw - I want a manly man!). Toby Stephens was the opposite: dark wild hair, dark eyes, stocky athletic build but IMO frickin hot by today's standards! Yummy. Very pretty movie, depth in the characters, great on screen attraction & charisma for each other. Lots a ppl dissed this adapt in favor of the 2011 film which i just rented. I tried to be open. Didnt work. Movie too short to allow any depth of character or important long conversations in the book. Everything was simply an abbreviation or mentioned just in token. Parts cut out. No good charisma between the leads. Very dry. Pretty costumes was the best part. I put it in a distant 2nd place behind the 2007 wilson/stephens adapt. All the other old adapts - sucked imo. No feeling. No heart. Oh well. Just thought id give my report. I wish i could find my own rochester if he was like toby stephens lol! ;-) ttyal

Natalie_vintage_girl said...

Oh really? I really liked the 2011 one. I definitely prefer the book, but i liked it. maybe i should try the mini-series, the only problem i have with mini-series is that they go for so long. it's weird cos i own seasons of shows, but mini-series are just such a strange lenth for me.

BlueVelvet said...

Hi nat hope u had a good new yr. Ya i kinda shy away from miniseries cuz I'm afraid I will be too tired or too busy one night and miss an episode. I probably would not have watched it when it aired. I ran into some clips and actually a couple entire episodes of it on youtube and it was so good that I got really interested in it. I tried to find all the episodes and wasn't able to, and then in oct or sept of 2012 some dumb copyright law took it all off of youtube. I tried my local library but they don't have a lot cuz I live in a tiny town of 2,000 in the middle of nowhere, so they didn't have it. Blockbuster might have it if you're near one, but no Blockbusters by me, so i just splurged and bought it online from walmart (definitely the best price). It was about $20. (2 dvd set). I just wanted to watch the whole thing so bad, it had really gotten me interested and involved from the youtube parts. Anyhow, I'm so glad I did. It really is great! It's 236 minutes but I watched it all at once one boring sunday and it went by faster than what I thought cuz I got so into it. I'm glad I got it too, cuz you can also watch it by episodes or by the scenes. I don't regret it cuz it's something I keep using again & again. I've gotten it out repeatedly and watched scenes over & over without having to watch the whole thing from beginning to end (although I've done that too lol). I love it. The leads have such good chemistry and it made me actually feel quite a bit of emotion. I cried in a few spots. Plus there was time in the adapt for their relationship to truly show some developement. The actors are great too. Toby Stephens is a pretty famous british actor and very talented I think. Ruth Wilson was great too. I kept wishing I was her ha. I bet u would really like it. I would be willing to donate it to ya if you'd like. (I'm not trying to be weird). I just know that sometimes its hard to afford stuff these days and I think it's fun to share stuff with someone if u think they will like it. If you want, my email is Bluevelvette@mail.com. Otherwise like I mentioned maybe Blockbuster or a decent-sized library. Oh well. I go on forever. I'll send it along if ya want or if u wind up finding it and watching it let me know if u like it. Ttyl

Natalie_vintage_girl said...

I normally don't bother too much with youtube because it takes a while to load. I fit comes down cheap i might purchase it from an online store. I don't think that will be very soon though, cos i just purchased a heap of dvds recently

BlueVelvet said...

Ya i hear ya. I'm stone broke. And jobless at the moment too - theres nothing where i live, and havent heard from all the apps i got out in neighboring towns (big sigh). Oh well. I keep hoping 4 the best. Well i thought i saw that adapt on ebay used for like 8 bucks or somethin but i dont remember for sure. Well get it someday when ya can & I know ya won't be sorry. I like it better than 2011 but theres a lot of ppl out there that say they like them the same amount. I just got swept away with it. I'll always be checking out jane eyre stuff as it comes out cuz i'm such a fan and its cool to see what others think about it. If u do get it someday tell me if ya liked it or not. Well have good start to 2013. Ttyl

Natalie_vintage_girl said...

Do you have shelfari?

BlueVelvet said...

No don't have shelfari. What is it? BTW i saw some of your other sites (didn't know you had others). I like it cuz i luv to read and am always looking for decent reviews from regular ppl (i.e. not critics), and it looks like we like some similar types of books. Have u ever read The Secret Life of Bees? So good. Sad, funny. Great viewpoint from the main character's point of view. One of my faves.

Natalie_vintage_girl said...

No I haven't read 'secret life of bees', though I have considered it. Other sites? unless you count my polyvore, tumblr, goodreads, facebook page or shelfari. I don't have any other blogspot pages, so maybe you ended up on one of the blogs i'm following? Shelfari is a website, kinda like goodreads (sept i use shelfari more) where people who like to read intereact anonymously.

BlueVelvet said...

Oh ok. Guess i wasnt looking closely enough to realize it was just a blogspot u were following. Hmmm, shelfari sounds interesting, guess i'll have to check it out.

Natalie_vintage_girl said...

That's cool. some of the ways stuff works on blogger can be confusing. but its cool that you found some other great blogs through me :)

BlueVelvet said...

Hi NatVinGirl. I read your labels and small obsessions spots. Both too cool. I tried to post to the labels one but it wouldnt let me. Do you know you are an awesome writer? ( i'm sure you've been told - i cant believe otherwise!). So anyhow i left you a post on your "small obsessions" spot. C ya!

Natalie_vintage_girl said...

Thanks heaps. I can tell it's you but thanks for letting me know anyway :)