To narrow down my favourite Bronte sisters quotes into a mere five was almost an impossible task. It was like asking me to select my favourite book. I’ve always loved the novels of the Bronte sisters ever since my A-levels when reading Wuthering Heights, which soon became a fond favourite.
I vividly remember attempting to convince my English class that Heathcliff is more misunderstood than he was murderous. This introduction to the Bronte’s left me hungry for more of their twisted romances and feminist heroines. It may have taken a while but here are what I deem to be the best Bronte quotes from some of their main works.
5. “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
This must jog the memories of anyone who took English Literature at A-Level. Whether a massive fan of Jane Eyre or more of a Wuthering Heights sort of person, this quote is admittedly the one that comes to mind at the thought of Jane Eyre.
Readers can be forgiven for mistaking Jane as a meek and mild character, yet this is the moment we realise that she has some serious sass.
So whether this quote brings up memories of daydreaming during talks about the book or makes you desperately want to re-read it ASAP, it would be difficult to argue that this isn’t not only a key moment within Jane Eyre, but one of the best quotes of the novel.
4. “Every atom of your flesh is as dear to me as my own: in pain and sickness it would still be dear.”
Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
If this quote doesn’t make you fancy Rochester or at least develop a soft spot for him, then I don’t know what will. This also bring to mind the classic Rochester vs. Heathcliff debate on which character is most date worthy.
Although it takes Rochester most of the book to become the big softie we all know him to be, he gets there in the end, with this lovely quote proving that romance really isn’t dead. If this had reawakened a repressed love of Rochester, then I suggest getting yourself a copy of Jane Eyre immediately.
3. “Be with me always–take any form–drive me mad. Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! It is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!”
Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights
I physically couldn’t be more a fan of Heathcliff if I tried, although I am aware of the massive Heathcliff-Linton divide. I know that he has had his criminal record including dog murder, but there is something about his crazy all absorbing love for Cathy that makes him a true romantic in my book, although an insane one at that.
Sadly, it is the death of Cathy that forces Heathcliff to make exclamations such as these, preferring a haunting to a life without Cathy. Now if that isn’t romantic then what is!?! If this can’t convince you that Heathcliff is secretly a bit of a sweetheart, then I don’t know what can.
2. “I cannot love a man who cannot protect me”
Anne Bronte, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Although not the most feminist of statements, and a total opposite to the proclamations of Jane Eyre, there is something almost sweet about it.
After all, what’s the point in loving someone who you know keep you safe? It can be argued that Emily and Charlotte stole some of Anne’s limelight, but quotes like this place Anne as a firm contender for the best Bronte award.
1. “But he that dares not grasp the thorn should never crave the rose”
Although another romantic quote about the highs and lows of love, a fond topic of the Brontes, this one has a slight edge. After all, isn’t it simply saying that no one is perfect? That in order to truly love someone, you have to except the pricklier sides to them too!
Whether intentionally or not, I feel the themes of all the Bronte novels tend to overlap in some way, therefore this quote is able to sum up the love of both Cathy and Jane too. It’s also refreshing to hear of women presented in ways other than delicate flowers, here a potentially dangerous being rather than ornamental.
If this doesn’t make you want to dig out your favourite Bronte novels for another re-read then who knows what will. These quotes not only make the novels but contribute to making them the masterpieces they are today.
Image credit: Lizzie Robinson