Book Wars

Welcome to the Hunger Games — wait, no.

Welcome to the “Book Wars,” The Daily Collegian’s new literary series where two books are pitted against each other...and only one can win. (See? This totally sounds like “The Hunger Games.”)

For today’s inaugural Book Wars, Amy Madison and Maria Burchill of Schlow Centre Region Library, will judge today’s “Sisterly Showdown” via a joint email commentary.

Though the two contestants are sisters — each very successful in their own right — only one book (and author) can ultimately win the approval of the judges.

First, the judges will give their initial impressions of the contestants, then weigh the pros and cons of each before making a final decision.

The Contestants:

Charlotte Brontë, representing “Jane Eyre”

Emily Brontë, representing “Wuthering Heights”

The Judges:

Amy Madison, Schlow Library, Adult Services Librarian

Maria Burchill, Schlow Library, Head of Adult Services

Judge’s Initial Impressions:

“So this is funny. It’s funny because Amy and I are about to pit two books against each other, or two sisters. It’s funny to us because we’ve already chosen a winner and we haven’t even started. ‘Jane Eyre’ wins. There you go. That’s it,” they said, candidly.

However, the battle of the Brontës was not quite as simple as that.

“No wait, wait…We’re not kidding, but we’ll expound on the reasons why Jane wins over Catherine — in our minds [at] least. Naturally, you’re free to disagree,” the librarians joked.

They both have merit, according to the duo.

“Both novels tackle social class well, especially women’s options in the 19th century. That the sisters wrote two stories of passion that are far from placid romances, and far ahead of their time, is remarkable. It makes the similarities and differences all the more interesting.”

Book Wars

Charlotte Brontë "Jane Eyre" Emily Brontë “Wuthering Heights”
PROS PROS
● “Charlotte captures not only Jane’s personality, but the reader’s compassion. We want to see where her incredible moral compass sends her. We want to question her decisions and cheer for her and ask ‘Why? Why, Jane?’” ● Tackling stereotypes of women and social classes
● “Her strength of character and her ability to persevere is so great that the reader can’t help but admire her.”
● “Seriously speaking, if we’re comparing the sisters’ writing styles, Charlotte Bronte shows us action. We feel like we’re in the darkened hallway with Jane…”
● Tackling stereotypes of women and social classes
● Happy ending (eventually)
CONS CONS
● “‘Jane Eyre’ begins with mean people doing mean things. Still, stronger, likeable characters compel us to finish the story, to see success and goodness prevail. Poor Jane doesn’t have a chance against her aunt, the school or even, really, against Rochester.” “The characters are hard to like and more difficult to sympathize with. But, we like Pat Benatar’s version of the song.”
● “Warped sense of drama in which the reader is compelled to find the nearest moor and fling themselves upon it.”
● “[Compared to ‘Jane Eyre’] we never really feel that connected to Catherine or Heathcliff through Emily’s writing. Neither character is sympathetic, and their deliberate cruelty is off-putting.”
● Dark, gloomy

The Winner:

Charlotte Brontë “Jane Eyre”

Judge’s final comments:

“Both stories look deeply into morality, but ‘Wuthering Heights’ is so dark and brooding, that it’s terribly difficult to care about the end. To be able to finish a book, to think that at the end it’s all going to be worth it, ‘Jane Eyre’ satisfies,” they said.

Though “Jane Eyre” wins, both of them are good works of literature.

“Don’t get us wrong, we’re glad that Emily wrote ‘Wuthering Heights,’” they said. “It addresses important human motivations that warrant examination: cruelty, greed and failure. But, if what you’d like to do when you finish a book is apply the lessons within to real life and get along in the world, Jane Eyre’s lessons will get you farther and you’ll wind up happier.”

If you're interested in submitting a Letter to the Editor, click here.