Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights?

Listening to the interesting new series from The Guardian books podcast, "The Books That Made Me," I was intrigued when China Mieville chose Jane Eyre as one of his favorite books. Not only was that interesting as most guys have never cracked it open, but he then commented that he found most people fell into a division of liking either Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights.

I think that is true.


Jane Eyre ... all the way.

(Not that I don't appreciate the semaphore version of Wuthering Heights, but it is a limited pleasure.)

And you? Which side of the line are you on?

(You know I've really gotta read something by Mieville ... eventually the library will get Kraken in. I'm only 13 of 14 on the list.)


  1. Jane Eyre for me too! And I find I'm surprisingly vehement about the difference. I really do not understand people who like Wuthering Heights. Where Heathcliff's bitterness makes him cruel, Rochester's misery turns inward and makes him lonely. Catherine is selfish and shallow where Jane is warm-hearted and generous.
    Heathciff and Jane are both put in the care of people who treat them horribly. Jane handles it with grace and fortitude. Heathcliff acts like a petulant child. I prefer to spend my time with Jane and Edward.
    I like Charlotte's other works almost as well. But my favorite Bronte might be Anne, maybe because she gets so little attention. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is just as enthralling and satisfying as Jane Eyre.

  2. kps got the difference of the works perfectly in my opinion. But does it make a book worse that its atmosphere is not suffused with the relentless determination, even a variety of optimism, of Jane Eyre? Wuthering Heights is a dark story, of insanity experienced instead of hidden in the attic.

    I read Jane Eyre in my early-ish teens, I think, and Wuthering heights when in the maturity of early thirties. Thus, i cannot discount the baby duck syndrome in my preference for Jane Eyre. But I do feel that Wuthering Heights is a strong and worthwhile story, a bit like some parts of Far from the Madding Crowd. That it is not a "princess turns frog into a prince and happily ever after" may make it less pleasant for the modern reader.

    Forever battling against dichotomies,

  3. While I certainly agree with the other comments and even saw the old movie version of Wuthering Heights--which was visually spectacular--I am definitely in the Jane Eyre camp. Jane Eyre elicits my sympathy for all of the characters, where Wuthering Heights is more provoking. For me, reading is an escape. Even when dealing with difficult subjects, I need to be left with something uplifting or hopeful. There is so much darkness, cruelty, and suffering in the Real World that I really want/need something more positive. As a side note, in Jane Eyre especially I found myself thinking of The Yellow Wallpaper and wondering if the madness wasn't more a product of the treatment... KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK, JULIE! From Jen, Another Happy Catholic

  4. I certainly learn about new podcasts every time I open one of your posts :) so of course I went right to iTunes to download this one.

    Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights ... I'll have to reread Jane Eyre and get back to you. I recently listened to Wuthering Heights from an Audible.com download, and decided I didn't think Heathcliff was romantic or in the least bit attractive LOL ... he was just plain mean LOL
    Funny how we have been led along the lines of how romantic the whole book was. Of course I found the characters fascinating and well developed and the overall story good, but they all had "issues" (I'm laughing as I write that). I'm trying to reread a lot of classics that I read years ago and am finding them to be completely "different" of course from reading them 20+ years ago.

    I guess my thoughts are with JRo above ... I'm not fond of violence and cruelty either, and am having a hard time finishing the last book in the Girl with Dragon Tattoo series, although I like the "detective part" and the style of writing.

  5. I read Wuthering Heights about four years ago and was totally underwhelmed. I haven't read Jane Eyre, though I will give it the benefit of the doubt and my vote. Thanks for your great podcast, Julie!

  6. I appreciate the sentiment Joseph but you can't vote for it if you haven't read it. :-)

    Thank you for the nice comment though! :-)

  7. You completely need to read China Mieville! He is amazing. His work is very dark and twisted, but his words are beautiful and he has this way of building in intensity. I highly, highly recommend you read Perdido Street Station before you read anything else by him. It's the first of his Bas-Lag series and it is phenomenal. If you aren't feeling up for something really intense though, I cannot recommend his "children's" novel, Un-Lun-Dun. It plays with typical fiction tropes and turns them all up on end. It is a lot lighter (as light as he has ever gotten) subject matter than his adult novels, and he drew all of the pictures in it...but his imagination still shines through amazingly. Once again, I cannot recommend him enough.

    -Heather P.
    PS: Haven't read Kraken yet, but I'll get to it. too much to do.
    PPS: Also, as a far, far, has nothing to do with his writing...he's GORGEOUS in person! And I love his accent. (book signing, not sure what he talked about...I was too busy trying not to drool). Anyway! nuff about that.

  8. His personality was completely winning, I will say that. And, of course, the accent. That goes without saying. :-D

    I think I tried Perdido Station a long, long time ago. But possibly not. At any rate, I'm game to try again.


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