I am making the case that there is a kinship between Twilight by Stephanie Meyer and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.
For your consideration, I present first: Jane Eyre.
Edward Rocherster, darkly brooding tortured man has a mad wife locked away in a tower.
She is his nemesis: the sad, pathetic creature who is holding him back from the wedded bliss he could have with the young governess he has fallen in love with.
"I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you--especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame..."
That got me where I lived as a teen! Still does, and besides--what more heart-wrenching scene can there be than the wedding scene?
It's a lovely wedding and we're happy for these two, but then the lunatic wife's brother storms into the church to declare an imediment to the marriage!
Rochester takes the wedding party to the tower to introduce his mad wife at last. It is an unforgettable moment.
We understand his dilema. Her family never told him that their daughter was mad, he was used in the worst way.
Jane flees--frightened and confused, which only adds to Edward's misery.
But alas she can find no peace for her longing is great.
So what do we have? We have enough sexual tension and unfulfilled desire to make us chew ice cubes!
Twilight: Edward Cullen, dark and handsome, brooding and tortured too—loving Bella despite himself.
He too has a dark secret. But it is not locked away in a tower, it’s in his veins!
For it is his sad destiny that he is one of the undead--a vampire!
Bella, awkward and clumsy, is newly arrived in town. When she sees Edward she is smitten by him. But he appears to hate her, avoiding her at every opportunity.
We feel for her!
But then we find out that he didn't want to hurt her, he was fearful of his vampiric hunger!
The two get to know one another, he saves her life--they fall more deeply in love.
"Besides…the more time I spend with you, the more human emotions seem comprehensible to me. I’m discovering that I can sympathize with Heathcliff in ways I didn’t think possible before."— Edward Cullen
See?! Heathcliff, from Wuthering Heights, penned 150 years ago by Emily Bronte!
She is needed, she fills up his life, her feelings for him are so great that she is willing to become a vampire!
''I read it when I was nine,'' says Meyer, ''and I've reread it literally hundreds of times. I do think that there are elements of Edward (Cullen) in Edward Rochester and elements of Bella in Jane. Jane was someone I was close to as a child — we were good friends! I think in some ways she was more real to me than any other fictional character…”
And you know what? I can see it too. Not only in the brooding Edwards but in Bella and Jane.
Each is shy and retiring—each has arrived in a strange place. Each knows lonelieness and isolation and each wants desperately that brooding intense man they have fallen in love with.
Jane does not understand Edward Rochester’s unhappiness and at first she thinks him uncaring.
Bella too doesn’t understand Edward Cullen’s behavior and thinks he hates her at first when in fact it has nothing to do with that!
Jane Eyre is a romance in the gothic tradition.
Twilight is a romance in the new gothic tradition.
Each has captured the imagination of a wide audience.
Both are great romances and romance is romance.
A quesetion: why do we love our heroes to be tortured?
Answer: because it makes the story that much more involving, that much more gripping.
We care about Jane and Edward as we care about Bella and Edward.
And why is that? It is because we have well-drawn characters facing tremendous conflicts.
Added to that, we have a great love story! No! Make that two great love stories!