Fig. 1, portrait by Branwell Brontë of his sisters,
Anne, Emily, and Charlotte (c. 1834)
The "Imp of Satan":
The Vampire Archetype in Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre
The academic industry that feeds on the Brontë sisters is enormous. Especially tasty are Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights (1847) and Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre (1847), which until the rise of feminist criticism in the last fifteen to twenty years has in this century taken second place to Emily's one powerful novel. (In the nineteenth century, the situation was generally reversed.)1 My purpose here is not to survey the myriad fruits the Brontë industry has produced, although since my approach is Jungian, a word about the psychological treatment of these two Brontë novels seems appropriate.2 Recently, Linda H. Peterson has summarized the psychoanalytic treatments of Wuthering Heights:
Modern psychoanalytic critics have applied multiple theories to Brontë's novel--finding everything from Freudian "phallic" symbols, to Jungian archetypes, to traits of vampirism and even lycanthropy (werewolfism). (302)
Peterson naturally finds the essay she includes in her edition of the novel and critical approaches to it, Philip Wion's "The Absent Mother in Wuthering Heights," a "less extreme (and more convincing) approach" (302). Yet Wion's article betrays a fault too often found in so-called psychoanalytical approaches; that is, he uses Emily Brontë's life to analyze her novel, thus risking what Jung himself warned against: reducing the "artist’s creativity" to "a mere symptom" ("Psychology and Literature" 86). Another Freudian critic, Thomas Moser, maintains that
Emily Brontë dramatized what Freud subsequently called the id. She discovered and symbolized in Heathcliff and, to a lesser extent, in Cathy that part of us we know so little about, the secret wellspring of vitality, the child that lurks within everyone, even within so ordinary a person as Nelly Dean or one so weak as Lockwood. (4)
Heathcliff, Moser believes, is "the embodiment of sexual energy" (4). Interestingly, Wion sees "the relationship between Catherine and Heathcliff [. . .] as a displaced version of the symbiotic relationship between mother and child" (318). There is some truth to the claims of both critics, though Wion weakens his claim by linking his interpretation to the author’s personal life.
Unfortunately, the late eminent Jungian analyst, Barbara Hannah, who should have known better, does the same kind of analysis of Emily Brontë (and her family) as does Wion. In Striving for Wholeness, Hannah writes:
I venture the hypothesis that the entrance of Heathcliff into the Earnshaw family depicts or is an analogy of the entrance of a symbol of the process of individuation into the whole Brontë family. The individual characteristics of Heathcliff and the further developments of the story show the individual way that Emily dealt with it, or rather the way it dealt with her, what her soul suffered itself and which she here records in a unique document. (224-25)
Some investigation of an author's life is useful and even necessary, but as Jung warned, if the novel can be explained solely in terms of the author’s biography, it is "psychological," not "visionary." To be visionary a work must stem from the collective unconscious and thus have universal (mythic) application--its meaning can never be fully explained for, like archetypal symbols, it reflects as in a mirror the infinite facets of the collective psyche as it is exposed to the work. Each generation will find new (or perhaps similar) responses. Joan Carson, another Jungian critic, is more on the mark when she analyzes the "regression to childhood and the primal situation" Catherine and Heathcliff symbolize, as well as "the archetypal experience of the night sea journey" (133). Stevie Davies compares Wuthering Heights to the Psyche and Cupid myth and maintains the elder Catherine's story
is an original myth of loss, exile, rebirth and return. It has the self-contained and opaque quality of all myth. It imagines the human soul as being female, seeking a lost male counterpart. [. . .] sexual union is not the subject of the story, rather it is the metaphor for a search which is metaphysical and "human" in the largest sense. (97)
Virginia Woolf, as perceptive a critic as she was a genius in writing fiction, understood the mythic power of Wuthering Heights, the "struggle," as she calls it, "to say something through the mouths of her [Emily Brontë's] characters which is not merely 'I love' or 'I hate,' but 'we, the whole human race' and 'you, the eternal powers...' the sentence remains unfinished" (164), which implies that a visionary work can never be fully explained. Feminist critics such as Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar also recognize the "myth-making" aspect of Emily's masterpiece "created by a woman in the misogynistic context of Western literary culture" (252).
Although Jane Eyre is only recently, with studies such as that by Gilbert and Gubar in The Madwoman in the Attic, receiving the same kind of serious attention as has been received by Wuthering Heights, it too is a mythic work, one which, unlike Wuthering Heights, depicts a woman's individuation process. Here I differ with Hannah, who writes, Wuthering Heights undoubtedly represents the crown of what Emily found in the unconscious, for in it we can see an image of the process of individuation, carried as far, I think, as possible in its projected form. (210, italics Hannah's).3 Gilbert and Gubar see Charlotte Brontë as "Borrowing the mythic quest-plot--but not the devout substance--of Bunyan's male Pilgrim's Progress " (336).
As may be expected because of the greater esteem held for Wuthering Heights, there are virtually no Jungian studies of Jane Eyre, albeit Hannah includes a chapter on Charlotte Brontë in Striving Towards Wholeness. Helene Moglen, in her perceptive study, Charlotte Brontë: The Self Conceived, does use Jung indirectly by quoting Northrop Frye on the romance versus the novel: "The romancer does not attempt to create 'real people' so much as stylized figures which expand into psychological archetypes. It is in the romance that we find Jung's Libido, Anima, and Shadow reflected in a hero, heroine and villain respectively" (Moglen 107). To Moglen, Jane Eyre is a combination of novel and romance, a "benign alternative to the Byronic myth" (108); indeed, the novel is, as the title of her chapter on Jane Eyre declares, "The Creation of a Feminist Myth" (105).
Jane Eyre was by far the most well received and popular of the three Brontë novels published in 1847. Although written later than Wuthering Heights and Anne Brontë's Agnes Grey (which appeared together), Jane Eyre was published on 16 October 1847, some two months before the other novels came out (Fraser 277 and 286). An unsigned review of Wuthering Heights in the Examiner (January 1848) declares: "This is a strange book. It is not without evidences of considerable power [. . .] Heathcliff [. . .] is an incarnation of evil qualities; implacable hate, ingratitude, cruelty, falsehood, selfishness, and revenge" (reprinted in Allott 220). The anonymous reviewer for Britannia (15 January 1848) believes Wuthering Heights is "strangely original" but feels the novel "would have been a far better romance if Heathcliff alone had been a being of stormy passions, instead of all the other characters being nearly as violent and destructive as himself" (reprinted in Allott 223 and 224). Another unsigned review in Douglas Jerrold's Weekly Newspaper (15 January 1848) remarks:
Wuthering Heights is a strange sort of book,--baffling all
criticism; yet, it is impossible to begin and not finish it; and quite
impossible to lay it aside afterwards and say nothing about it. [. . .]
the reader is shocked, disgusted, almost sickened by details of
the most diabolical hate and vengeance, and anon come passages of powerful testimony to the supreme power of love--even over demons in the human form. The women in the book are of a strange fiendish-angelic nature, tantalizing, and terrible, and the men are indescribable out of the book itself. (reprinted in Allott 228)
The initial critics seem to agree on the strangeness and power of Wuthering Heights, not to mention the outrageous evil depicted in it, especially in the character of Heathcliff. Such strong reaction suggests the book struck an archetypal chord, as it continues to do so today.
Critics also recognized power in Charlotte's novel. The anonymous critic for the Atlas (23 October 1847) writes of Jane Eyre: "It is one of the most powerful domestic romances which have been published for many years" (reprinted in Allott 67). As with Wuthering Heights, some readers could hardly put it down once they began reading it. W. M. Thackeray, the novelist Charlotte so much admired, wrote to W. S. Williams, her publisher's reader, on 23 October 1847: "I wish you had not sent me Jane Eyre. It interested me so much that I have lost (or won if you like) a whole day in reading it at the busiest period [. . .]" (reprinted in Allott 70). The anonymous reviewer for the Critic (30 October 1847) writes: Jane Eyre "is a story of surpassing interest, riveting the attention from the very first chapter" (reprinted in Allott 73).
Not all the reviews were positive. The anonymous reviewer for the Christian Remembrancer (April 1848), an organ of the High Church Party, speculates that the author is a woman (the book was published under the pseudonym Currer Bell, just as Emily and Anne used the names Ellis and Acton Bell), yet ironically
a book more unfeminine, both in its excellences and defects, it
be hard to find in the annals of female authorship. Throughout there is
masculine power, breadth and shrewdness, combined with masculine
coarseness, and freedom of expression. Slang is not rare.
The humour is frequently produced by a use of Scripture, at which one is rather sorry to have smiled. The love-scenes glow with a fire as fierce as that of Sappho, and somewhat more fuliginous. There is an intimate acquaintance with the worst parts of human nature, a practised sagacity in discovering the latent ulcer, and a ruthless rigour in exposing it, which must commend our admiration, but are most startling in one of the softer sex. (reprinted in Allott 89)
The reviewer, whose sexist comments suggest why the Brontës chose to publish under ambiguous pseudonyms, further comments: "The plot is most extravagantly improbable, verging all along upon the supernatural, and at last running fairly into it. All the power is shown and all the interest lies in the characters [. . .]" (90). The strong sexual undercurrents in both Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre and the supernatural elements are both in part aspects of the vampire archetype Charlotte and Emily Brontë use. As visionary literature in the sense Jung uses the term, both novels thus compensate for contemporary collective psychic imbalance--specifically for Victorian prudery, prejudice, and hyperrationalism, a legacy from the eighteenth century which the Brontës' hero, Lord Byron (see fig. 2), as well as the other Romantics, also compensated for. James B. Twitchell has already done a more than adequate job of discussing the vampiric elements in these novels in his book, The Living Dead: A Study of the Vampire in Romantic Literature. However, no one as far as I know has examined the archetypal implications of the Brontës' use of vampiric elements.4 I intend to examine these implications here.
Fig. 2, Lord Byron at age 25 (1813 portrait by Richard Westall).
Byron, the person and the legend, as well as his poetry and the
first vampire prose tale in English fiction, attributed to Byron but
written by his physician, John Polidori (see below) from ideas
by Byron, inspired the Brontë characters Heathcliff and Rochester.
Before investigating the vampire archetype, I want briefly to discuss Charlotte Brontë's oft-repeated comments in her Editor's Preface to the New Edition of Wuthering Heights (1850). Her comments about the creative act apply to Emily as well as to herself and to Anne, for in the Biographical Notice of Ellis and Acton Bell (1850) published with the Editor's Preface to Wuthering Heights, she writes of her sisters: "they always wrote from the impulse of nature, the dictates of intuition [. . .]" (reprinted in Sale 319). In the Editor's Preface Charlotte further declares:
Whether it is right or advisable to create beings like Heathcliff, I do not know: I scarcely think it is. But this I know; the writer who possesses the creative gift owns something of which he is not always master--something that at times strangely wills and works for itself. [. . .] it sets to work on statue-hewing, and you have a Pluto or a Jove, a Tisiphone or a Psyche, a Mermaid or a Madonna, as Fate or Inspiration direct. Be the work grim or glorious, dread or divine, you have little choice left but quiescent adoption. As for you--the nominal artist--your share in it has been to work passively under dictates you neither delivered nor could question--that would not be uttered at your prayer, nor suppressed nor changed at your caprice. If the result be attractive, the World will praise you, who little deserve praise; if it be repulsive, the same World will blame you, who almost as little deserve blame. (reprinted in Sale 322)
This romantic view of the artistic process corresponds almost exactly to Jung's neoPlatonic ideas. For example, in "On The Relation of Analytical Psychology to Poetry," Jung writes: "Analysis of artists consistently shows not only the strength of the creative impulse arising from the unconscious, but also its capricious and wilful character. [. . .] The unborn work in the psyche of the artist is a force of nature that achieves its end either with tyrannical might or with the subtle cunning of nature herself [. . .] We would do well, therefore, to think of the creative process as a living thing implanted in the human psyche" (74-75). In "Psychology and Literature," Jung further comments: "The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purposes through him" (101). Jung is referring especially to artists who create what he calls visionary art, art that compensates for collective psychic imbalance. "In itself," Jung writes,
an archetype is neither good nor evil. It is morally neutral, like the gods of antiquity, and becomes good or evil only by contact with the conscious mind, or else a paradoxical mixture of both. [. . .] There are many such archetypal images, but they do not appear in the dreams of individuals or in works of art unless they are activated by a deviation from the middle way. Whenever conscious life becomes one-sided or adopts a false attitude, these images "instinctively" rise to the surface in dreams and in the visions of artists and seers to restore the psychic balance, whether of the individual or of the epoch. (104)
This is precisely what happened with the creation of Wuthering
and Jane Eyre--they both compensate for contemporary prudery,
and, particularly in the case of Jane Eyre,sexism. These novels
are visionary art, contemporary myths that apply to our era as much as
they applied to the mid-nineteenth century.
By examining the vampire archetype in Wuthering
Heights and Jane Eyreit goes without saying I am not
to give the definitive reading of these complex novels. I am not even
to give the definitive Jungian reading, as if such a thing were
Rather, I want simply to add another layer of meaning, as it were, to
novels, to make a contribution to our understanding of them as
Not much has been written by Jung and Jungians on the vampire.5 If you consult the General Index to Jung's Collected Works, you will find exactly one reference to the word "vampire." It appears in paragraph 370 of volume seven, Two Essays on Analytical Psychology--a seminal volume to be sure. Jung is discussing the anima and the animus. When a patient fails to consciously accommodate these contrasexual archetypes, Jung says,
they give rise to a negative activity and personification, i.e., to the autonomy of animus and anima. Psychic abnormalities then develop, states of possession ranging in degree from ordinary moods and "ideas" to psychoses. All these states are characterized by one and the same fact that an unknown "something" has taken possession of asmaller or greater portion of the psyche and asserts its hateful and harmful existence undeterred by all our insight, reason, and energy, thereby proclaiming the power of the unconscious over the conscious mind, the sovereign power of possession. In this state the possessed part of the psyche generally develops an animus or anima psychology. The woman's incubus consists of a host of masculine demons; the man's succubus is a vampire. (Two Essays 224)
There is also a single reference to a vampire in Jung's oral biography as recorded by Aniela Jaffé, Memories, Dreams, Reflections.Here Jung discusses the case of a "young catatonic patient" (128) whose fantasy (revealed after Jung was able to get her to talk) was that
she had lived on the moon. The moon, it seemed, was inhabited, but at first she had seen only men. They had at once taken her with them and deposited her in a sublunar dwelling where their children and wives were kept. For on the high mountains of the moon there lived a vampire who kidnaped and killed the women and children, so that the moon people were threatened with extinction. That was the reason for the sublunar existence of the feminine half of the population. (129)
Jung's patient decides to kill the vampire, and to this end she waits "on the platform of a tower . . . erected for this purpose." She waits for a few nights until the vampire appears, "winging his way toward her like a great black bird." Hiding her "sacrificial knife," she waits for him to stand in front of her, as he does, covered by "several pairs of wings. [. . .] Wonder-struck, she was seized by curiosity to find out what he really looked like. She approached, hand on the knife. Suddenly the wings opened and a man of unearthly beauty stood before her." The power of the archetype is demonstrated by the fact that she is so "spellbound" by the beauty of the vampire she can not kill him. He flies off with her (129). Jung concludes his discussion of this case, which I will not detail here, by noting the following: "By telling me her story she had in a sense betrayed the demon and attached herself to an earthly human being. Hence she was able to return to life and even to marry" (130).
Interestingly, the vampire here lives not under ground, as is usual for vampires (during the day at least), but "on the high mountains of the moon." Although the unconscious is probably most often symbolized by images of depth and enclosure--the ocean, caves, cellars, anything beneath the feet--here the "demon" is above, just as Bertha Mason Rochester lives on the third floor of Thornfield, her husband's mansion. Perhaps for these women, Jung's patient and Jane Eyre, because they are women and hence more closely tied than most men to the earth, the terror of the vampire, an unconscious symbol realized consciously, comes from above, from the realm, not of the Earth Mother but of the Father, for in Western, patriarchal culture, the masculine is more often associated with the sky and the feminine with the earth6 (although the moon is usually a feminine symbol in Western myth).
To say that a vampire is a creature who returns to the realm of the living after having died and lives by sucking blood is to define merely one manifestation, for there are "psychic or astral vampires or those peculiar species that are nonhuman" (Bunson 262). The Brontës don't portray the undead so much as they portray psychic vampires; Twitchell's phrase, the "living dead," might be an apt term. Barbara Holt's description of the psychic vampire as a "predatory" individual with "charisma" (14) certainly applies to Heathcliff, Bertha (albeit the charisma applies mainly to her younger persona), and Rochester. The first two of these characters become the "heartless as well as soulless" people Hort describes (13). Rochester becomes such after his failed marriage with Bertha. Unlike the other two, Rochester, as we shall see, is able to change for the better.
Jung obviously was not very interested in elucidating the symbolism of the vampire, though he recognized its existence as a malignant image from the collective unconscious. In the quotation from Two Essays on Analytical Psychology, Jung identifies a negative image of the anima as a vampire, perhaps a kind of lamia. If the vampire can be an image of the anima, it can also symbolize the animus (for the vampire is, or can be, a kind of demon). It also symbolizes the shadow, as Jungian psychologist Anthony Stevens recognizes in a discussion of fear of possession by "the powers of darkness" (212). Furthermore, the vampire is a trickster, able to change into many shapes, among them bats, wolves, spiders, butterflies, fog, or even a bit of straw (Marigny 55 and Twitchell 11). Both Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre are rife with vicious animals and animal imagery that are images of the trickster. Lockwood is attacked by a female dog, part of a "hive" of "four-footed fiends" (E. Brontë, ed. Sale 6; all references to Wuthering Heights are to this edition) upon his first visit to Wuthering Heights. He mistakes a "heap of dead rabbits" for an "obscure cushion full of something like cats" (8-9). Catherine is injured by, significantly, a male bulldog named Skulker (38). This injury disrupts forever her childish union with Heathcliff. Heathcliff is more than once called a dog. Jane Eyre's first encounter with Rochester is filled with trickster imagery:
The din was on the causeway; a horse was coming; the windings of the lane yet hid it, but it approached. [. . .] I remembered certain of Bessie's tales, wherein figured a North-of-England spirit, called a "Gytrash," which, in the form of horse, mule, or large dog, haunted solitary ways, and sometimes came upon belated travellers, as this horse was now coming upon me.
Now, along with the "tramp, tramp" of the horse, Jane hears "a rush under the hedge, and close down by the hazel stems glided a great dog, whose black and white colour made him a distinct object against the trees. It was exactly one mask of Bessie's Gytrash,--a lion-like creature with long hair and a huge head [. . . and] pretercanine eyes" (C. Brontë, ed. Dunn 98; all references to Jane Eyre are to this edition). Soon the horse comes with a man on it, and Jane realizes this is no Gytrash, for "it was always alone" (98). Then man and horse slip on some ice and Rochester takes his famous fall, not the last of which he will have to take before he and Jane can truly be one. Jane dreams prophetically "that Thornfield Hall was a dreary ruin, the retreat of bats and owls" (248). Significantly, these are night creatures, one of which, the bat, is especially associated with the vampire. The child, the "scared infant" (249) Jane carries in her dream through the house symbolizes her growing consciousness. The fact it and she fall suggests, like the split chestnut tree, that she and Rochester are not ready psychically to be united. Finally, Jane calls Bertha a "clothed hyena" (258), and Rochester says Bertha made of her room on the third floor of Thornfield a "wild beast's den--a goblin's cell" (272).
Twitchell describes well the operation of the literary (as opposed to the folkloric) vampire, a combination of the contrasexual/shadow/trickster archetypes:
The actual "attack" is almost always the same: it
is nighttime, probably midnight, the bewitching hour. The moon should
full, for the vampire is not only revived by moonlight, he is energized
by it. Assuming that the vampire is male, the female victim is
to sleep, in that dim world between sleeping and waking. She sees her
deceased lover (often her late husband) standing before her, perhaps
the window. Now the victim must make some inviting move; she must
the window, open the door, do anything that shows she is acceding, even
slightly. . . . the vampire cannot cross a threshold without this
he is bound to wait pathetically like a schoolboy until invited in.
however, his powers gradually increase. (10)
The vampire must then "entrance her with his hypnotic stare [. . .] This trance, if successful, will put the victim under his power, and she will have no memory of their encounters" (10). The encounter, of course, involves the vampire's taking of blood, usually, since Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897), from the neck, although in folklore the bite can be almost anywhere on the body (Twitchell 11). Bertha, in Jane Eyre, has no need of an invitation to attack her brother or her husband. Her problem is the threshold guardian, Grace Poole, who can be circumvented when she (Poole) drinks too much. Also, in regard to both Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, it is significant that a vampire's victims are "those whom he loved most when alive. The initial victims are friends and family who, of course, recognize the vampire as one who was loved and trusted" (Twitchell 10).
Another archetype the vampire symbolizes, one that figures in both Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, is the scapegoat. Paul Barber, in his fine study, Vampires, Burial, and Death, points out that in folklore one could become a vampire after death simply "by being a difficult and troublesome person [. . .] people who are different, unpopular, or great sinners are apt to return from the dead" (29). Suicides especially are likely to become vampires, as are sorcerers and alcoholics: "lists of potential revenants [a term that can be applied to vampires] tend to contain people who are distinguished primarily by being different from the people who make the lists" (30). Furthermore, "Although vampires are far more often male than female, the exceptions to the rule are commonly mothers who have died in childbirth" (36). "Vampires," Barber also notes, "[. . .] tend to be those who have died 'before their time'" (114). These examples clearly apply to Heathcliff and Catherine, who dies in childbirth. Twitchell adds to the list: "Dying unbaptized, being buried in unconsecrated ground, being excommunicated, copulating with a witch or demon, being the seventh child of the same sex, being born on Christmas day [. . .] being born with precocious teeth, being unruly during Lent [. . .]" (9). Twitchell divides the taboo categories into "sins against the church" (here Bertha would certainly qualify, as would Rochester himself and Heathcliff); and "any social peculiarity might be a sign of diabolical propensities. So in dark-eyed cultures the blue-eyed were suspect; in dark-haired societies the blond was exiled [and] persons suffering from epilepsy or anorexia were obvious choices in all societies" (9).
From the above description, it is obvious that Heathcliff and Bertha qualify as potential vampires, if not actual ones. Heathcliff's difference is emphasized from the time Mr. Earnshaw brings him to Wuthering Heights, a boy he found in Liverpool starving and homeless, whom even Earnshaw calls "it": "you must e'en take it as a gift of God, though it's as dark almost as if it came from the devil" (28). Mrs. Earnshaw calls Heathcliff a "gipsy brat" (29), and her son, Hindley, calls him a "dog" and an "imp of Satan" (31). Hindley's son, after only ten months' separation from Nelly Dean and now under the adult Heathcliff's care, calls the latter "Devil daddy" (85), an example of Emily Brontë's grim humor. Isabella refers also to Heathcliff's "sharp cannibal teeth" (136), a description that clearly could apply to a vampire. Indeed, Isabella's obsession with Heathcliff is itself an example of what Jung calls possession by an archetype. Here the trickster element of the vampire triumphs. After she succumbs to him, she realizes, as she tells Nelly, Heathcliff is a "'fiend, a monster, and not a human being!'" (118). Like the woman who lived on the moon, she could not resist the beauty--as she saw it--of the vampiric Heathcliff. Finally, note Nelly's description of Heathcliff as Catherine lies dying: "he gnashed at me, and foamed like a mad dog, and gathered her [Catherine] to him with greedy jealousy. I did not feel as if I were in the company of a creature of my own species [. . .]" (124). By making Heathcliff the hero of her novel Emily Brontë compensates for Victorian prejudice against outsiders, such as gypsies and beggars, as well as prejudice against the supernatural. Jane's sympathy for Bertha does the same.
As for Bertha, her description is even more in line with that of vampires of the scapegoat variety and with the folkloric tradition. An outsider like Heathcliff, she comes from even further away--Spanish Town, Jamaica. Her mother, a Creole, "'was both a mad woman and a drunkard [. . . and] Bertha, like a dutiful child, copied her parent in both points,'" according to Rochester (257). Her hideous laugh may have been inspired by Lord Ruthven's "loud laugh" in John Polidori's The Vampyre (273). Before she knows who Bertha is, Jane describes her to Rochester: "'a woman, tall and large, with thick and dark hair hanging long down her back. I know not what dress she had on: it was white and straight; but whether gown, sheet, or shroud, I cannot tell'" (249, italics mine). Bertha's face, Jane tells Rochester,
"was a discoloured face--it was a savage face. I wish I
forget the roll of the red eyes and the fearful blackened inflation
of the lineaments."
"Ghosts are usually pale, Jane."
"This, sir, was purple : the lips were swelled and dark ;
the brow furrowed; the black eyebrows widely raised over the bloodshot eyes ." (249, italics mine)
In folklore, Barber notes, the vampire "is never pale, as one would expect of a corpse: his face commonly is described as florid, or of a healthy color, or dark, and this may be attributed to his habit of drinking blood" (41); also, the body tends to be swollen (42). Should the reader have any doubt as to what creature Charlotte Brontë is alluding to, Jane removes that doubt. "'Shall I tell you of what it reminded me?'" she asks Rochester (249). "'You may,'" he replies, to which she answers: "'Of the foul German spectre--the Vampyre'" (250).
Fig. 3, Vampire (1895). This lithograph by the Norwegian
artist, Edward Munch, save for the red hair, could have been inspired
by Bertha Rochester. It is not the only picture of a female vampire by
Munch, and it is another example of how this archetype--male and
female--haunted the 19th-century imagination.
The use of the actual word, "Vampyre," indicates Charlotte was aware of the concept of vampires. Emily too uses the word in Wuthering Heights. Near the end of his life, when Heathcliff in effect commits suicide, as had Catherine, by refusing to eat, Nelly asks him: "'Tell me why you are so queer, Mr. Heathcliff?'" (249). She alludes to his "deep black eyes" (249), which, like Bertha's, are "blood-shot" (252). He looks like a "goblin" (249), and Nelly wonders, "Is he a ghoul, or a vampire?" (250). We know that, despite their isolation in the parsonage at Haworth, the Brontë children were well read and had access to the leading magazines of the day. Winifred Gérin, a major biographer of Charlotte, writes: "With Byron's works Charlotte was fully acquainted at 13" (24).7 Byron had dealt with the vampire in "The Giaour," and had inspired his physician, John Polidori, to write the first vampire fiction in English prose, "The Vampyre: A Tale" (1819; see fig. 4), after that memorable night in June 1816 in Geneva when Byron challenged himself, Polidori, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley to each write a ghost story (Bleiler xxxiii). Matthew Bunson writes: "Polidori took the framework of the tale that Byron had begun in the Villa Diodati and authored 'The Vampyre'" (206). Quite probably Emily and Charlotte read Polidori's story, for the author was widely believed to be Byron, not Polidori (see Bleiler xxxvi-xxxix). The story was particularly popular in France, where it inspired several plays. Since both Emily and Charlotte lived in French-speaking Brussels it is entirely possible they would have been exposed to the story there. In any case, the sisters' novels are evidence enough to show their awareness of the archetype.
Fig. 4, John William Polidori (above)
and the title page, attributed to Lord Byron,
of his tale, The Vampyre.
Although Emily's poetry doesn't explicitly utilize the archetype, there are anticipations of its use in Wuthering Heights. Like Emily Dickinson and Christina Rossetti, contemporary poets superior to her, Brontë often writes about death and the afterlife, favorite Victorian preoccupations. In a poem that anticipates the situation of Cathy and Heathcliff (only reverses it, for the male dies first in the poem), the speaker suggests that the dead male might return for love of the other:
And if he came not for her woe
He would not now return;
He would not leave his sleep below
When she had ceased to mourn-- (Complete Poems 139)
Polidori had made the literary vampire into a Byronic type, with his mysterious, scary brooding and strange attraction to male and female alike. In another poem Emily describes a similar character:
there was something in his face
Some nameless thing they could not trace
And something in his voice's tone
Which turned their blood as chill as stone
The ringlets of his long black hair
Fell o'er a cheek most ghastly fair
Youthful he seemed--but worn as they
Who spent too soon their youthful day
When his glance drooped 'twas hard to quell
Unbidden feelings sudden swell
. . . (105)
The person the speaker describes could well be Heathcliff, or Rochester for that matter, another Byronic hero. In a Gothic poem called "Written in Aspin Castle," Brontë portrays an actual revenant--a returning spirit:
For around their hearths they'll tell the tale
And every listener swears it true
How wanders there a phantom pale
With spirit-eyes of dream blue-- (140)
Like the vampire, this spirit is "unforgiven." He "Wanders
shut from heaven / An outcast for eternity" (142). Nevertheless, poems
such as Number 138 (with the line "I know our souls are all divine," Complete
Poems 150) and the well-known one that begins, "No coward soul is
(Number 167), a favorite of Emily Dickinson (Farr 3), with lines like
God within my breast" and "Vain are the thousand creeds / That move
hearts, unutterably vain" (182),--these poems suggest Emily Brontë
does not literally (or consciously) believe in the existence of
Nevertheless, as Twitchell has shown, Emily and her sister use vampire imagery in their novels to characterize Heathcliff and Bertha Rochester, and to some extent, I believe, Catherine Earnshaw and Rochester himself. Twitchell writes:
Emily Brontë resuscitated the vampire in the poetic characterization of Heathcliff while her sister was doing the same with Bertha Rochester. For Heathcliff (at least according to Nelly Dean) acts as if he were a vampire, devouring both Earnshaws and Lintons for his own vivification, while Bertha has to be sequestered in the attic lest her libidinal desires destroy the men-folk. (6, italics Twitchell's)
Of the four main characters in the two novels (Catherine/Heathcliff, Jane/Rochester), only Jane is exempt from vampire characterization, but she has her shadow figure, her "dark double" as Gilbert and Gubar call her (360), in Bertha.8
In folklore, vampires are made--discovered if you will--after death, although people may in life suspect they will become vampires. Heathcliff is made into a creature resembling one by the way others treat him--by their making him a scapegoat. Besides "gipsy" and "vagabond" (E. Brontë, Wuthering Heights 45), Heathcliff is called (here by the elder Mr. Linton) "'a little Lascar, or an American or Spanish castaway'" (39). Hindley's treatment of Heathcliff, Nelly says, "was enough to make a fiend of a saint," and he seems "possessed of something diabolical" (51) as he plans his revenge. Shamed by Catherine's transformation into a young lady after five weeks at Thrushcross Grange and jealous of the attention and affection she receives from Edgar Linton, Heathcliff develops what today we'd call a poor self image. To Nelly he says: "I wish I had light hair and a fair skin, and was dressed and behaved as well, and had a chance of being as rich as he [Edgar] will be!" (44). Of course he does go away after overhearing Catherine tell Nelly "it would degrade her to marry him [Heathcliff]" (63) but without hearing Catherine's declaration "Nelly, I am Heathcliff" (64). Ironically, Heathcliff does get the money and gentleman status he longs for, but as we know he returns too late, for Catherine has already married Linton. Like Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray (who shares vampiric traits with Heathcliff; see Hort 156-203), Heathcliff has become possessed by the vampire archetype, a victim of what Jung calls "psychic inflation" (see Two Essays 143).
Catherine, although not an outsider, shares vampiric traits with Heathcliff. As children, they scheme "naughty plan [s] of revenge" (E. Brontë, Wuthering Heights 36). In a fit of anger at Nelly, Catherine pinches her violently (55). She is highly strung and difficult--just the sort of person who according to folklore would be a candidate for vampirism. In Literature and Evil, Georges Bataille speculates that Catherine and Heathcliff's "love can be reduced to the refusal to give up an infantile freedom which had not been amended by the laws of society or of conventional politeness" (6). Catherine not only refuses to relinquish "infantile freedom"; she also quests for the power she's denied as a female. To this extent she, like Heathcliff, is a scapegoat. Jungian analyst Julia McAfee's comments are apropos here: "The vampire describes a psychological process where the struggle into being through love has gone awry. Vampirism is a paradigm of a blood-sucking, life-sucking love, a fatal possession" (quoted by Birge 23). Catherine and Heathcliff are together possessed by the same archetype projected onto each other. In her search for power in a patriarchal culture, she has failed to understand the only power she has is in herself--in Heathcliff, a projection of herself. She is as mean-spirited and self-centered, as evil if you will, as any vampire, but unlike Heathcliff she has no power over others, no power to turn them into vampiric creatures like herself--exactly what Heathcliff does to Isabella, his son Linton, Hareton, and the younger Catherine. For in a patriarchal society such as that in which Catherine lives, the power lies in the hands of men. After all, it is Mr. Rochester who controls Bertha, not the other way round. Thus it is ironic that the only power Catherine can exercise is her emotional power over Edgar and Heathcliff.
Heathcliff's vampiric power to affect others extends to Edgar Linton. Catherine's legal husband has no real power over Heathcliff, who declares vampirically, "The moment her [Catherine's] regard ceased, I would have torn his heart out, and drank his blood!" (115). Speaking of hearts, Heathcliff accuses Catherine of betraying her own heart by rejecting him and marrying Linton (124). Further evidence that Emily Brontë has the vampire in mind in her characterization of Heathcliff is Heathcliff's threat to Nelly that if she neglects to have him buried in the way he demands, no minister at the service and his coffin laid next to Catherine's, Nelly "shall prove practically, that the dead are not annihilated!" (253). Heathcliff wants no minister to say anything over him because "I have nearly attained my heaven, and that of others is altogether unvalued and uncoveted by me!" (252, italics Brontë's). Catherine herself once dreamt that she had gone to heaven, and as she tells Nelly: "heaven did not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out, into the middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights; where I woke sobbing for joy" (62). Catherine and Heathcliff prefer their own self-made heaven to the traditional Christian one. Their depictions as vampiric creatures constitute an inversion of Christian conversion--instead of the cleansing, healing blood of Christ, they figuratively convert each other by sucking the blood from each other. Possessed by the vampire archetype, a combination of the contrasexual/shadow/ trickster archetypes, they fed on each other in a co-dependent relationship that can only lead to their mutual destruction.
Other vampiric actions of Heathcliff include digging up Catherine's grave. Just after she is buried, he digs down to her coffin, only to apprehend Cathy's presence above him. Relieved with the assurance she is with him, he refills the grave. One way to interpret this is to see her as having become a vampire--if not literally, then figuratively, as in the early scene with Lockwood when she tries to get into Wuthering Heights. Yet it is the child Cathy in Lockwood's nightmare and it is her blood he sheds on the broken windowpane. She is a child in Lockwood's dream because her emotional growth has matured no further than the childhood companionship she shared with Heathcliff. Marigny observes the following: "A young man who commits the transgression of opening a tomb to see once more the face of his beloved runs the risk of discovering a grimacing devil, or even a vampire" (23). Seventeen and a half years later Heathcliff again digs up Catherine's grave--or rather the sexton who's digging Edgar Linton's grave next to hers does it for him. This time he sees her face still preserved (218)--a sign that she is a vampire according to folklore (Barber 19).
However we interpret these events, the imagery is
clearly that of vampirism, and another conclusion can be drawn: there
no psychic unity, no individuation for this pair. To become
one must mature into a fully adult personality. Catherine and
never mature beyond their childish bond: they remain puerile to their
ends. This is not entirely their fault, of course. A heartless,
stratified, patriarchal culture has interfered with the would-be lovers
(they are never physically lovers) and their psychic growth has been
so that they never grow beyond a stage in which they can only identify
with ego gratification. The anima and the animus are archetypes one
in mature, adult life, if one accommodates them at all. Catherine and
never mature; they never grow up.9
If there is no individuation in Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre is quite another story. It is a realistic novel with improbable, as well as Gothic elements, of which the vampire motif is a part. Tamar Heller interprets the novel as a combination of "two traditional plot lines":
the tale of the woman alone--a female bildungsroman whose independent heroine is a significant innovation in a nineteenth-century context--and the tale of the woman and man, represented by the romance between Jane and Rochester. (49)
Tom Winnifrith also recognizes the originality of Jane Eyre, whose author he calls "a pioneer in breaking away from the conventionalities of the Silver Fork School into a frank first-person narrative with the narrator giving full rein to her feelings" (103). Like Wuthering Heights,Jane Eyre's continuing popularity, including the several film versions of both novels, attests to its archetypal appeal. Western civilization has produced far more heroes than heroines, and Jane Eyre is probably the first serious work of fiction in the West that creates a heroine who achieves individuation. Unlike Heathcliff and Catherine, Jane avoids possession by any negative archetype. If she is possessed by an archetype, it is the archetype of love, and this possession empowers her to become her own self--a whole woman.
Like Heathcliff, she enters the story a scapegoat, a ten-year-old orphan in the family of her widowed aunt by marriage, Mrs. Reed. Bullied by her fourteen-year-old cousin, John Reed, Jane is "the scapegoat of the nursery" (C. Brontë, Jane Eyre 13), confined to the "red-room" unjustly. Moglen correctly identifies the red-room as "a terrifying womb-world from which she is born into a new state of being" (111). Adrienne Rich writes of Jane at this period of her life: "the temptation of victimization is never far away" (92). That the room is red, the color of blood, is significant from my point of view, for like Heathcliff and Bertha, the temptation Jane faces is to become the vampire-like creature people would be only too ready to see her as.
The scapegoatism that confronts Jane, not to mention Heathcliff and Bertha, says as much about the people who do the scapegoating as it does about the victims. As Jungian analyst Erich Neumann notes in Depth Psychology and a New Ethic, scapegoatism is "projection of the shadow," a method of displacing guilt and other unwelcome psychic components. Aliens and other outsiders are particularly apt victims: "The fight against heretics, political opponents and national enemies is actually the fight against our own religious doubts, the insecurity of our own political position, and the one-sidedness of our own national viewpoint" (52). The Reeds project their fear of poverty and dependency onto Jane, just as fears of contamination, stigmatization, sexual excess, and a host of unknown components of the shadow archetype are projected onto Heathcliff and Bertha. As a governess, Jane is also treated shabbily by Rochester's haughty aristocratic friends. How one reacts to being scapegoated is a measure of character. Heathcliff and Bertha incorporate the projections into themselves to their psychic (and physical) destruction. Although he may look like a gentleman and own property, at heart Heathcliff remains the ostracized demon-gypsy, the vampire-like creature almost everyone labels him, relying for self worth only on his impossible "love" (obsession would be a more appropriate term) for Catherine. Bertha has been driven insane. Only Jane among these scapegoats survives to become, in Rich's words, "a person determined to live, and to choose her life with dignity, integrity, and pride" (93).
As a child and later an adolescent at Lowood, Jane grows into an independently-minded young woman, ready to begin the individuation process. She has accomplished the adolescent tasks of ego affirmation, confirmation of her dominant attitude type, introversion, and selection of a persona. She is a teacher and becomes the governess of Mr. Rochester, hired to teach his ward, and probable love child, Adèle Varens.10
In Jungian psychology, the encounter with the shadow comes first in the adult individuation process (Snider 14-15). Although Jane has had to deal with many shadow figures (Mr. Brocklehurst comes immediately to mind along with all the Reeds; though technically the shadow is symbolized by a figure of the same gender, no one would deny Brocklehurst is a villain, full of shadow traits), Bertha is obviously the most prominent shadow figure with whom she has to deal. Those who, like Linda Peterson, may scoff at the vampiric interpretation of the Brontë novels I am discussing can hardly deny that Bertha is meant to be interpreted as, if not an actual vampire, a creature like a vampire. Moglen accepts this simple fact and links it with "fear of the female":
The fear of the female is common among civilized as well as primitive men. Since it is a crucial product and cause of Victorian repression, we are not surprised that Berthe [sic] is a vampire: one of those who haunted the Victorian imagination. Jane identifies her in this way in describing the nighttime visitation and Berthe [sic] does, in fact, suck Mason's [her brother's] blood [. . .] as she tries to suck her husband's. She would deprive him, Rochester knows, of his energy, his vitality, his manhood. (127-28)
We are reminded here that the vampire's first victims are those he or she knew and loved in life. Also, note that Rochester calls Bertha a "hideous demon" (277) who "allured" him (269) in typical vampire fashion. Even Jane describes her as a "clothed hyena" (258). Earlier Bertha had actually bitten her brother, Richard Mason: "'She sucked the blood: she said she'd drain my heart'" (187). Significantly, Bertha's attack takes place under a full moon, for, as Twitchell notes, the vampire is "energized" by moonlight (10). During the session after Jane and Rochester's aborted wedding Bertha's attack on Rochester is described thus: "the lunatic sprang and grappled his throat viciously and laid her teeth to his cheek" (258), but he escapes and ties her up. The imagery is clearly straight out of vampire lore.
Jane runs the risk, in Brontë's and the typical Victorians' view, of becoming a Bertha were she to give into her libidinous desires for Rochester, never mind that the Victorians' attitudes toward women and sex were, speaking generally, twisted. Bertha, as the symbol of the shadow for Jane, represents both negative and positive possibilities, for by definition all archetypes are bipolar--both positive and negative or else neutral. The sexual empowerment of the archetype of love and passion (of Eros and Dionysus) is what Bertha represents. As Barbara Birge says in her discussion of Bram Stoker's Dracula, "potency is a sexual, generative, Dionysian, and healing kind of power. Such power is the potency Persephone, Eve, and Mina [in the film] sought to regain through their relationships" (33). To this list I add Jane. To preserve her psychic integrity, to incorporate the shadow qualities--negative and positive, Jane must acknowledge her kinship with Bertha, yet "save" her sexual fulfillment for matrimony. Otherwise she risks becoming that most forlorn of Victorian persons: the "fallen woman." She does the former by expressing sympathy for the woman whose existence has robbed her of her hopes for happiness in marriage. "'Sir,' she says to Rochester, "'[. . .] you are inexorable for that unfortunate lady: you speak of her with hate--with vindictive antipathy. It is cruel--she cannot help being mad'" (265). Jane must now return to earth, so to speak, from the fantasy--her projected bliss with Rochester--she has been living. She must leave Rochester and Thornfield secretly and strike out on her own with virtually nothing of material value in her possession.
Having accommodated the shadow, Jane must accommodate the animus if she is to become a whole person. First, however, in a section that is rich with symbolism she must harrow hell as it were. The moon in the form of a mother had urged her to "flee temptation!" (281). If the moon had a negative power over the vampiric Bertha, it has benevolent power over Jane. She finds herself at a crossroads, "where four roads meet" (284), a place symbolizing choice. An "outcast" now, her heart "impotent as a bird with both wings broken" (285), her only relation is "the universal mother, Nature" (284). Mother Nature is all right for one night. Jane even has a sort of spiritual awakening with a masculine God: "Looking up, I, with tear-dimmed eyes, saw the mighty Milky Way. Remembering what it was--what countless systems there swept space like a soft trace of light--I felt the might and strength of God. Sure was I of His efficiency to save what He had made [. . .]" (285). However, the following day, appropriately using capitalized nouns to personify abstractions, a method that harks back to the Age of Enlightenment, Want and Necessity rear their heads; and she realizes not only the negative side of the Earth Mother, but also of her fellow human beings, none of whom help her until, suffering from terrible despair and physical exhaustion, she is rescued from a rainstorm by St. John, Diana, and Mary Rivers--a remarkable example of what Jung calls synchronicity, for these three are her cousins, a fact they discover only much later (339).11
The local parson, St. John is planning to go to India as a missionary. He eventually finds work for Jane as a schoolmistress and offers to take her to India as his working wife, although he has no passion for her. Like Dr. John Graham Bretton in Charlotte Brontë's Villette (1853), St. John has a "Grecian" profile: he is fair, youthful, good looking. Yet Jane does not love him; she is still in love with Rochester. Here Jane is about the same age, "near nineteen" (305), Catherine Earnshaw Linton was when she died, yet the contrast between the two could not be more vivid. Whereas Jane has acted throughout with intelligence and integrity under harsh circumstances, Catherine had acted with self interest alone and under relatively easy circumstances, marrying a man she didn't really love simply because she desired money, property, and social position. Jane, in her own way just as passionate as Catherine (albeit she is introverted and Catherine is extraverted), is now tempted to do what society would expect of her--to marry a man of the cloth, closer to her own age than is Rochester (St. John is about ten years older than Jane; Rochester about twenty). As a symbol of the animus, St. John would be a man of the word, the logos, but Jane is herself a scholar, like St. John an introverted-thinking type, already familiar with the word. Her personal myth requires someone more her opposite--more physically active, wild, passionate, experienced in the larger world, an extraverted-sensation type such as Rochester. He is the senex, the older partner in terms of age and experience; she is the puella, the young woman who is stronger in terms of character and values. Together they would make a whole.
What Jane does not want is a vampire, yet Rochester has some vampiric traits. She describes him thus upon first running into him:
I traced the general points of middle height, and considerable breadth of chest. He had a dark face, with stern features and a heavy brow; his eyes and gathered eyebrows looked ireful and thwarted . . .
He is neither "handsome" nor "heroic-looking" (99). All this suits her accurate image of herself as a "plain Jane." But it also could describe a Heathcliff or a vampire. It is a given in Brontë scholarship that both Heathcliff and Rochester are Byronic types. Given the Gothic features of both Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, the Byronic characteristics of Polidori's vampire, Lord Ruthven, and the popularity of Varney the Vampire, published serially seven years earlier than Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre (Twitchell 122), the character of any Byronic hero would likely resonate with vampiric implications. Polidori, in fact, deliberately chose to make Ruthven Byronic in order to get revenge on Byron, with whom he had not got along. So he makes the vampire an aristocrat, an innovation from folklore, in which virtually anybody could be a vampire. Ruthven has "irresistible powers of seduction" (Polidori 269) for both men and women, very much like Byron. Furthermore, Ruthven takes delight in ruining his female victims, so that they fall "from the pinnacle of unsullied virtue, down to the lowest abyss of infamy and degradation" (269). Although she is not an adulteress, this is a fairly apt description of what Heathcliff does to Isabella, who was so irresistibly drawn to him. Whether or not Bertha was virtuous before her marriage to Edward Rochester, Rochester makes it clear she commits adultery after the wedding. Perhaps this is a case where the victim is made into the villain. If she seduced him into marriage in the first place, he becomes a seducer or allows himself to be seduced again on the Continent once Bertha has gone mad and been incarcerated at Thornfield. Perhaps Bertha has turned Rochester into a potential vampire. Perhaps W. H. Auden's famous lines, "Those to whom evil is done / Do evil in return" (86), apply to both Rochester and Bertha. Additionally Byronic is the fact Rochester has a big secret--the very existence of Bertha. Both Heathcliff and Rochester are exceedingly moody, another Byronic trait.
My point is not that Rochester is depicted as a
as are Bertha and Heathcliff, but that like Catherine he has some
traits. Had Jane married him before his injuries he would have dragged
her down, so to speak, whether Bertha lived or not, for as a wealthy
aristocrat, he had all the power. Vampiric relationships are about
about controlling the weaker person, sucking his or her blood and
him or her. That is why a healthy relationship between Heathcliff and
was impossible, and that is why before the destruction of Thornfield a
healthy relationship between Edward Rochester and Jane Eyre would have
Bertha, who is almost literally a vampire, must be destroyed for two reasons. First, psychically she symbolizes the shadow for Jane and must disappear from her conscious life once Jane has accommodated the shadow. Second, she is obviously a legal impediment. Because she is mad, Rochester cannot divorce her (Showalter 122). Everyone knows the way to kill a vampire is to drive a stake through his or her heart and cut off his or her head. Perhaps not so well known is that cremation is just as acceptable a method. Bertha dies aflame, falling from Thornfield, "her brains and blood . . . scattered" (C. Brontë, Jane Eyre 377). The important thing is to "render the body inert" (Barber 167), and that's exactly what Brontë does with Bertha.
Rochester, never having become a full-blown vampire, does not have to die. Losing his sight is enough to deprive him of his power. Early in their relationship, Jane describes Rochester's eyes as "dark, irate, and piercing" (106); "he had great, dark eyes, and very fine eyes too" (115). Do I go too far to say she is entranced by those eyes? I think not. It is with his "trance," remember, that the vampire "will put the victim under his power" (Twitchell 10). Without his eyes, Rochester's sinister power is gone. It is as if the dregs of his psyche have been destroyed; only the valuable parts are left, the parts that with Jane will create a whole. Now she can unite with him as the positive animus, fully conscious and equal to each other.
Because of his infirmity, Jane is forced to become more extraverted, to become his eyes. ("Literally, I was [. . .] the apple of his eye" 397.) Her thinking and feeling functions have long been developed, for she has always been a scholar and felt instinctively what was right and what was wrong. When St. John proposes to her, her intuition function is sufficiently developed to tell her such a union would be wrong; indeed, she intuits moving to India would kill her. When she intercepts Rochester's telepathic message, another example of synchronicity, her intuition is perhaps most keen. She finally develops her weakest function, sensation, by becoming her husband's eyes and by physically uniting with him (together they produce a son).
Having developed all four functions of consciousness, having accommodated the shadow and overcome scapegoating, having been united with the contrasexual, she has become a whole person, and with the legacy from her uncle, an "independent woman" (382) financially, who chooses to join with another:
for with him I was at perfect ease, because I knew I suited him; all I said or did seemed either to console or revive him. Delightful consciousness! It brought to life and light my whole nature: in his presence I thoroughly lived; and he lived in mine. (384)
Jane Eyre has realized her personal myth.
1Miriam Allott comments in The Brontës: The Critical Heritage that "throughout most of the twentieth century [. . .] Charlotte has remained for most of the period in the secondary position--vis à vis both Emily and other Victorian novelists--to which from the 1870s many even of her warmest admirers felt obliged to consign her" (47). In An Introduction to The English Novel, volume one (1951), Arnold Kettle devotes an entire chapter to Wuthering Heights while barely mentioning Charlotte. Similarly, Dorothy Van Ghent's The English Novel: Form and Function (1953) allots a chapter to Emily's novel but none to Charlotte's.Harold Bloom, himself no feminist, writing in 1986 contrasts the "compelling" Jane Eyre to "the authentically sublime Wuthering Heights " (Introduction, C. Brontë’s Jane Eyre 1). Today, however, the first volume of Charlotte's letters have been published (1995), and a new biography by Lyndall Gordon has also been published (1995). Finally, a comprehensively researched, gigantic tome, The Brontës, by the former curator of the Brontë Parsonage Museum, Juliet Barker, was published in 1994. All these last three volumes came out after I initially wrote this chapter.
2Charlotte's other novels, The Professor (written before Jane Eyre but not published until 1857), Shirley (1849), and Villette (1853) are outside the scope of this study and, in any case, do not employ the vampire archetype in the ways Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre employ it. I also omit Anne Brontë, the third and youngest Brontë sister who wrote novels and poems, but I will take a glance at Emily's poems.
3Hannah continues: "We see the same phenomenon in several other great masterpieces, but always in works by men . [. . .] What makes Emily's great novel unique in my experience is that it depicts an image of human wholeness in a feminine soul or psyche" (210, italics Hannah's). While I agree that Emily Brontë projected the archetypes in her novel, I disagree, as I've indicated, with Hannah's biographical approach. I understand also that she writes as an analyst, not a literary critic, yet I also disagree about the uniqueness of Wuthering Heights as an example of individuation in a feminine "soul or psyche." First, I do not find any individuation in Wuthering Heights of any kind. Second, if we are looking for examples of individuation by women novelists we need only to read Woolf's Orlando or The Waves (see Chapter Five in my book, The Stuff That Dreams Are Made On ) or for that matter Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, as I hope to demonstrate.
4That the vampire is truly an archetype is demonstrated by its antiquity and its universality. Jean Marigny writes: "The vampire myth was unquestionably born of fantasies linked to blood [. . .] The origins of these fantasies can be found in the most ancient reaches of human history" (14). Twitchell notes that "the vampire is truly ancient. Long before Christianity his presence was imagined among the peoples of coastal Egypt, in the Himalayan recesses of north India, and on the steppes of Russia" (7). See also Hort 3-7.
5Two years after I wrote this sentence in the original version of this essay, Shambhala published Barbara E. Hort's Unholy Hungers: Encountering the Psychic Vampire in Ourselves and Others (1996), a long-overdue and welcome Jungian contribution to the literature of vampirism, which I am happy to employ now. Included among the literary works Hort discusses in relation to psychic vampires are Bram Stoker's Dracula, Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, and Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray.
6This particular patient of Jung had been a victim of incest at the age of fifteen by her brother. Jung writes: "she felt humiliated in the eyes of the world, but elevated in the realm of fantasy. She had been transported into a mythic realm; for incest is traditionally a prerogative of royalty and divinities" (130). It is significant that the vampire in her fantasy is male whereas Jane's vampire is female (that is, if we don't count Mr. Rochester himself).
7Margaret Smith, editor of Charlotte's Letters, notes: "The works [. . .] and the personal myth of George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) greatly attracted the young Brontës, and influenced their later fiction, esp. [sic] in the characterization of Rochester" in Jane Eyre (131, n. 9).
8Elaine Showalter interprets Bertha as one of "three faces of Jane." The other third is Helen Burns, Jane's long suffering, saintly schoolmate at Lowood. The three, Jane/Bertha/Helen, "operate in an archetypal dimension of the story" (113).
9Although I disagree with her on a number of points, I do agree with Camille Paglia that "Heathcliff and Catherine seek sadomasochistic annihilation of their separate identities" (448). The younger Catherine and Hareton do have a chance for the psychic growth that leads to individuation, but they are too young yet to have achieved it. 10I regret that the limits of space and my topic prevent me from discussing in detail the many other characters and actions important to Jane's growth--characters such as Miss Temple, Helen Burns, St. John Rivers, and so on. Perhaps it is not unfair to point out, however, that Brontë--or her character, Jane--practices a little scapegoatism herself when she makes the following retort to the wooing Rochester: "What do I want with half your estate? Do you think I am a Jew-usurer, seeking good investment in land?" (230). Apparently Brontë (or again, to be charitable, her character) was subject to some of the prejudices of her age.
11Jung defines synchronicity as "the simultaneous occurrence of a certain psychic state with one or more external events which appear as meaningful parallels to the momentary subjective state [. . .]" ("Synchronicity" 441). In his new study on synchronicity, There Are No Accidents, Robert H. Hopcke defines synchronistic events as having "four features":
First, such events are acausally connected [. . .] Second, such events always occur with an accompaniment of deepemotional experience, usually at the time of the event itself, but not always. Third, the content of the synchronistic experience [. . .] is always symbolic in nature, and almost always [. . .] such coincidences occur at points of important transitions in our [. . . lives]. A synchronistic event very often becomes a turning point in the stories of our lives. (23, italics Hopcke's)
All four of Hopcke's features apply here, making the "coincidence"
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--Copyright © Clifton Snider, 2009
This article, in a much shorter version, was presented at a
on Jungian and Archetypal Perspectives on Popular Culture at Creighton
University (Omaha, Nebraska) on 2 June 1996. It may be used by