|A Bronte Rogue or an Austenian Gentleman?|
“I had not seen Pride and Prejudice
And you thought only contemporary authors could be snarky! (More here.)
Considering Bronte had been told to write like Austen, she might have been justified for being a bit miffed. She decided to go a step further and slam her rival in classic nineteenth century style.
Was this more than writerly rivalry, though? Does it represent a real difference in what kind of writing -- and what kind of hero -- or indeed, what kind of society, is preferable? Bronte was a Romantic, who idealized the violent passions, whereas Austen captured the aspirations of the nascent middle class. Both were rebels, I think, against the existing order, but Austen's heroines were determined to conquer the class divisions of the old system through sense and sensibility, whereas Bronte heros were more likely to burn it to the ground.