Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Dr. Elisabeth Gruner
Since the Brontes first published their novels, critics and readers have often associated the male leads with the Byronic hero. Certainly, Arthur Huntingdon in Anne's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Edward Rochester in Charlotte's Jane Eyre and Heathcliff in Emily's Wuthering Heights are all, like Lord Byron's own heroes, brooding and damaged men. Each of these men, additionally, is fundamentally willing to flout social expectations. Their search for selffulfillment often leads them outside of the boundaries of conventional society, although the three sisters sometimes ascribe conflicting moral values to that search. For Charlotte and Emily, Rochester's and Heathcliffs strong personalities are fascinating, evoking immense masculine power. Yet for Anne, this idea of the "dangerous lover," a hero who can play simultaneously friend and enemy to the heroine, becomes more problematic. All three sisters may therefore invoke Byron's appealing prototype of the morally conflicted and socially isolated (anti-)hero, but they nevertheless incorporate that hero into their own texts in individual ways.
Patchen, Jennifer K., "A conversation among sisters : the "dangerous lover" in the texts of the Brontës" (2009). Honors Theses. 655.