1. The Brontë Sisters and their socio-cultural background
Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre were written during an age when "the novel as a genre knew great flourishment” (Barbara Z. Thaden, p. 9) Barbara Z. Thaden notes in her book Student's Compagnion to Emily and Charlotte Brontë.
In the Victorian period many good writers, such as Sir Walter Scott, Mary Shelly, Charles Dickens, Thackeray, were meant to remain models for the young generations. The Brontës greatly admired these writers placed at the crossroads of the Romantic and the Realistic trends. Many critics tried to establish whether the Brontë were Victorian or Romantic or even both. Romantic poets like William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel T. Coleridge, Lord Byron - who explored such feelings as love, death, loneliness, pain, etc. inspired Emily, Charlotte and Anne. They were true admirers of these artists, especially of Wordsworth and Lord Byron, whom they took as models; the writers that influenced them in the realistic vein were the well-known authors: Dickens, Thackeray and George Eliot.
The Brontë sisters were attracted both by the romantic and realistic approaches, so they perfectly combined these two perspectives in their novels. Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre stand proof in this respect. The Victorian novel dealt with the inner workings of the human) mind, questioned received truths and promoted moral earnestness of a Puritan kind, ethics being a major concern of the age.
The romantics perceived the society not as a rationally developed system as the neoclassical eighteenth century writers had envisaged it, but as a hypocritical prison-house where people were yoked to rules and laws that stifled individuality. I totally agree with their view. Utilitarianism and Puritanism instead advised proper behaviour that observed the norm, control of emotions and feelings, severe punishment for emancipation from to the rules of the society and of the church. Barbara Z. Thaden asserts that...