As an avid lover of the classics, it disappoints me that so many readers are turned away by British literature. If readers really allowed themselves to be fully submerged in the genre, they would find that beyond the stuffy manners and ballgowns, there is rich symbolism, meaning, and nuance. My personal favorites will leave you lost in this fascinating and complex side of literature.
Emma by Jane Austen is a novel about a youthful, spoiled girl who meddles in the lives
of others, much to the disdain of her brother-in-law, Mr. Knightly. As the story unfolds, however, the reader is able to experience Emma blossom into a mature and elegant woman–one ready for marriage. The story has just enough romance to keep it entertaining, but really speaks on a more fundamental level to women’s struggles to find a place within their hierarchical societies. Emma is a feel-good book for any reader looking to find themself and their feminist side.
Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights is another novel that must be read carefully to
appreciate its deeper implications. The book invites the reader to bear witness to the toxic love shared by protagonists Catherine and Mr. Heathcliff. The lovers are thrown into constant emotional turbulence, trapped in an eternally destructive love story that leaves the reader in a shocked but entertained trance.
The story of an orphan searching for greater meaning to her life, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë is one of the most raw, tear-jerking novels I have ever delved into. As Jane searches for love and belonging, she also searches for independence and strength within herself. After enduring countless instances of drama and heartbreak, she is able to find the life she deserves with a loving family.
These classics are bound to make you laugh, cry, and, of course, read time and time again. All three, though centuries old, remain both timeless and universal. They touch on every struggle we, as humans, all still face regularly: struggles of love, independence, strength, and belonging.