Books by the Bronte Sisters

06/12/2011 at 6:39 AM (Books, Classics, Movies, Romance, TV) (, , , , , , , , , )

Once upon a time there were three sisters living in Haworth called Charlotte, Emily and Anne.  These sisters each wrote a masterpiece of literature. By the way, these sisters did have other siblings who made no literary contributions but played a part in inspiring their use of characterisation.

The eldest sister, Charlotte Brontë, wrote Jane Eyre; she used the pseudonym Currer Bell to get a better reception by using a male name. The story of the orphan governess who falls in love with her mysterious employer who has a dark secret with its Gothic overtones is currently hailed as a raging success. I first remember reading Jane Eyre as a nine-year-old, tears streaming from my eyes at the cruelty endured by the poor girl and being furious on learning she could have lived with an uncle who genuinely loved her. Because I still enjoy the story in its adapted forms, I will refer you to this 2006 version of Jane Eyre starring Toby Stephens as Mr Rochester. I like the television adaptations better than the motion pictures, even the one with Orson Welles and Elizabeth Taylor.

wuthering-heights-by-emily-bronte

 

The middle sister, Emily Brontë, wrote Wuthering Heights; she used the pseudonym Ellis Bell for the same reason as her sisters. The tale of intrigue between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw is now considered a classic tale of English literature but its reception was mixed as some regarded the depiction of their turbulent relationship as being over the top. This was something I borrowed from the public library and I had my ear chewed off as a ten-year-old for reading it during Sunday school. To be honest, this is my least favourite of the masterpieces by the sisters but to each their own. If you are interested in watching Wuthering Heights, I suggest the film in which Ralph Fiennes plays Heathcliff. It actually includes the second part unlike the one Laurence Olivier is in.

The youngest of the writing sisters, Anne Brontë, wrote The Tenant of Wildfell Hall; she used the pseudonym Acton Bell. The sad and controversy arousing tale of the alcoholic Arthur Huntingdon, his son Arthur and pious Helen Graham/Helen Huntingdon was a phenomenal success and even outsold Wuthering Heights. It’s kind of odd it has seemed to fall into neglect now. But then in the Victorian ages, the attitude of Helen was a victory for women because she overturned some rules concerning sexist gender politics by slamming her bedroom door after being abused. This is my second favourite of the sisters’ novels and the one that moved me most emotionally.  To see it play out before your eyes, I suggest you watch the recent BBC mini-series starring Rupert Graves as Huntingdon.

Sadly all the sisters died very young. Charlotte was 38, Emily was 30 and Anne was 29. But it cannot be denied each of them has made a significant contribution to literature and has enriched it before passing on.

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4 Comments

  1. carldagostino said,

    I was never a fan and never saw why others found so much to admire in their stuff. I once asked my professor what was so good about this stuff I had to plod through and he became enraged but controlled. I got a D in the course for those comments in spite of some pretty good stuff that should have received higher marks. I understand now that their works are among the earliest things accepted as literature by women, about women and from the female perspective. That has value. Still think they are crummy though.

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    • leadinglight said,

      I can’t believe you didn’t like Jane Eyre! The other two are understandable – it’s not everybody’s cup of tea.

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      • Carl D'Agostino said,

        Could never get through the book but I confess I liked the movie because as a history teacher I got tired of kings and wars and was interested in period pieces of the daily lives of common people in their tiny worlds portrayed in film. The human part of history comes that way so the book has value to me and is inspirational in the ways little people display courage and perseverance in their little ways in their little worlds. Of course it’s probably me as I can’t get past the third page of Joyce or Eliot either. I should not be so harsh on any literature just because it is not appealing to little old me. Perhaps you will grant me some redemption because my favorite authors include Homer, Chaucer, and Shakespeare. Love Kipling, Twain , James Fenimoore Cooper, and Hemingway. Read everything Herman Hesse wrote. Read everything H.G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Arthur Conan Doyle by age 15. Poets – Tennyson, Longfellow, Dylan Thomas and Emily Dickinson. I enjoy Dave Barry and Garrison Keillor and try to copy their style when I write. Perhaps you may enjoy my post 9/11/10: “Letters to Erato” in that regard.

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  2. Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë « A Green Sky Outside said,

    […] Books by the Bronte Sisters (leadinglight.wordpress.com) […]

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