I feel bad about lumping these sisters into one post, but the thought of pulling them apart is equally odd. After the death of their mother, Charlotte Brontë assumed the motherly role to her sisters Anne and Emily and brother Branwell. The four of them began chronicling their lives and struggles, a practice that prepared them for their literary adulthood.
You don't need me to break down their works. Their stories that have been told and retold, on stage and film. But somehow they always remain elusive and ultimately confined to perfection on the page. Of course, we all have a favourite Jane Eyre, a favourite Heathcliff. But, to me, there's a certain darkness that can be beautifully captured on the page but never sympathetically conveyed on film.
When I read a book I put pictures to it, I make shifting floorplans and incomplete maps for the landscape. I see the eyes and hair of the characters, though not every facial detail. There's always something missing, the fragments are loosely held together. Sometimes, I resent the power of film because it overwrites those open ideas and fills in all the details; makes a rich fabric of all those threads. And it's hard to forget that luxurious tapestry once you've seen it.
But with Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, there have been so many productions that somehow a different kind of patchwork prevails. No one pattern takes over. I flit between all the Heathcliffs, the Janes, the Rochesters and find my own new one. I like that; somehow it comes back around.
Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics)
Wuthering Heights (Penguin Classics)
The Complete Works of the Brontë Family
The Brontës (Authors in Context) (Oxford World's Classics)
Image: The Brontë sisters, as painted by their brother, Branwell. Branwell painted himself out of the middle of the picture. Image via.