The Bronte’s, Heroines of Gothic Literature

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!   For the final day of Gothic week I have decided that the topic will be about the Brontes!    I will be discussing the sisters, their literature, and especially their heroines.   I will focus mainly on my favorite Catherine Earnshaw and on Jane Eyre.    I have to be honest, Anne, while a talented writer, had characters that are much more boring.   She was much more firmly rooted in reality, and I personally prefer the supernatural elements!

All three of the Bronte sisters were very creative, and their brother was also known to be very creative.   Unfortunately their brother did not have opportunity to actually pursue it, and he would die tragically.   He would sink into substance abuse and debt.    The sisters each went away to school, with Emily coming home early because of homesickness.

Emily and Anne had invented a magical place when they were small, called Gondal.   Emily, in fact, continued to write about this place into adulthood, and much of her poetry is set there!   Charlotte, Emily, and Anne chose to jointly publish a collection of poetry under male pseudonyms.   Charlotte and Anne moved on to just novels, while Emily continued with both.   Emily was the true poetess of the trio!

The first novels of all three sisters were published at the same time.    Jane Eyre was a singular work, Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey were published in a joint format.   In the beginning Charlotte’s Jane Eyre was the only one that was had some success.   Wuthering Heights is now also acknowledged as a true masterpiece of English literature!   It is certainly my absolute favorite novel, and that is why I adore Cathy and Heathcliff so much.

Now moving onto the discussion of Cathy and Jane.    Jane was a governess who fell in love with her employer.   She had a tragic tale of learning that he had hidden much from her.    This would lead to much uncertainty and trauma, and she was strong willed.    Jane was intelligent and determined to make the best of her life, and this can be very inspirational.    It must also be noted that the novel is one that still inspired so much Gothic literature to come.   There are still authors basing their plots on that of Jane Eyre!

Catherine Earnshaw was the protagonist of Wuthering Heights along with the love of her life, Heathcliff.    Heathcliff presents as the most iconic Byronic hero of Victorian literature.    Cathy was spoiled and even mean, however she truly loved Heathcliff.    Every choice that Cathy made in the beginning of the novel was in order to make Heathcliff’s life a little easier!   Even her fateful choice of marrying Edgar Linton was to be able to use his money to free Heathcliff of servitude.

Cathy becomes increasingly irate and jealous of Heathcliff and the attention he paid to her sister-in-law.   At the end of the day it is Isabelle Linton that would be hurt by this relationship.    She chose to marry a man who loved another, and gave him a son.   But she also had an intensely unhappy time, and that is something that is a tragic tale.   Catherine would end up dying after giving birth to her only child!   It is this event that is what moves the plot forward.   Cathy begins to haunt Heathcliff, and he enjoyed being haunted!

For a total of eighteen years Cathy would continue to haunt her true love, until he died himself.    At that point the two of them would haunt the Moors together.   I personally find this to be an incredibly romantic ending, and I have told my husband many times that I want to haunt the Moors with him one day!

I hope that you have enjoyed this brief overview of the lives and heroines of the Brontes.   Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is a cover of Wuthering Heights.   I found the image onë-ebook/dp/B07QW7YNKR.

Further Reading

  • The Life of Charlotte Bronte by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte