Jane Austen: fortitude, witty repartee, white muslin gowns, walks in the country, comic situations, amiable suitors, handsome gentlemen and ladies.
Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë: dark halls, childhood torments, unholy clergymen, madmen, passion, storms.
The Brontë sisters construct action, based on the profound and primitive energies of passion, love and hate. At once highly imaginative with elements of brutality in the characters and resplendent of the stormy Yorkshire moors.
As Emily relates, "One may guess the power of the north wind blowing over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few stunted firs at the end of the house; and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun."
Charlotte writes to William Smith Williams on the 12th of April, 1850:
"She (Jane Austen) does her business of delineating people seriously well; there is a Chinese fidelity , a miniature delicacy in the painting: she ruffles her reader by nothing vehement, disturbs him by nothing profound: the Passions are perfectly unknown to her; she rejects even a speaking acquaintance with that stormy Sisterhood; even to the Feelings she vouchsafes no more than an occasionally graceful but distant recognition; too frequent converse with them would ruffle the smooth elegance of her progress. Her business is not half so much with the human heart as with the human eyes, mouth, hands and feet; what sees keenly, speaks aptly, moves flexibly, it suits her to study, but what throbs fast and full, though hidden, what the blood rushes through, what is the unseen seat of Life and the sentient target of Death - this Miss Austen ignores; she no more, with her mind’s eye, beholds the heart of her race than each man, with bodily vision sees the heart in his heaving breast. Jane Austen was a complete and most sensible lady, but a very incomplete, and rather insensible (not senseless) woman; if this is heresy- I cannot help it. If I said it to some people (Lewes for instance) they would directly accuse me of advocating exaggerated heroics, but I am not afraid of your falling into any such vulgar error."
Oh dear, a tad harsh Charlotte. So you don't like her then? I would very much enjoy a trip in a Time Machine wherein I bring the fairly maligned Jane to meet angsty Charlotte armed with the coruscating invective of a wonderful paraphrasing of Catullus, Carmina 16:
Though knowing Jane and Charlotte as I think I do; coupled with the fact that both are daughters of Clergymen, I reckon Matthew 5:44 would be the preferred riposte:
ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν καὶ προσεύχεσθε ὑπὲρ τῶν διωκόντων ὑμᾶς,
I suspect it isn't difficult to imagine which of the four; Jane, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, The Tutor would wish to 'entertain' in spite of all this.(2)
I recommend an Austen/Brontë Fight Club, “Texas Death Match” Tag-Team edition between our heroes Darcy and Rochester – united in brotherhood for this one occasion – versus Waugh’s “Brideshead Revisited”, Lord Sebastian Flyte and Wilde’s “An Ideal Husband”, Lord Arthur Goring (Or perhaps Trollope’s “The Way We Live Now”, Sir Felix Carbury)? With Dicken’s “Great Expectations”, Philip Pirrip as the ring announcer and Miss Havisham as the bikini-clad damsel who regularly sashays through the ring displaying a card upon which is written the round number?
(1) There is extant on the Internet a Yankee scholar's translation of 'irrumabo' as "Clintonize".
I thought that quite funny.
(2) The Tutor ripostes: "Jane is butt-ugly, so are the rest. I prefer Maria, the eldest of the Brontë sisters." To which I interject with horror: "Maria died of consumption at age 12! Are you channeling that vile Nabokovian scum, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and his beloved Alice Liddel, again?"
The Tutor whimpers, "Maybe."