Thursday, January 08, 2009

Charlotte Bronte on Rochester & Heathcliff

Mr. Rochester has a thoughtful nature and a very feeling heart; he is neither selfish nor self-indulgent; he is ill-educated, misguided, errs, when he does err, through rashness and inexperience: he lives for a time as too many other men live - but being radically better than most men he does not like that degraded life, and is never happy in it. He is taught the severe lessons of Experience and has sense to learn wisdom from them - years improve him - the effervescence of youth foamed away, what is really good in him remains - his nature is like wine of a good vintage, time cannot sour - but only mellows him. Such at least was the character I meant to pourtray.

Heathcliff, again, of 'Wuthering Heights' is quite another creation. He exemplifies the effects which a life of continued injustice and hard usage may produce on a naturally perverse, vindictive and inexorable disposition. Carefully trained and kindly reared, the black gipsy-cub might possibly have been reared into a human being, but tyranny and ignorance made of him a mere demon. The worst of it is, some of his spirit seems breathed through the whole narrative in which he figures: it haunts every moore and glen, and beckons in every fir-tree of the 'Heights.'

- August 14, 1848