12 Dating Tips From Brontë Characters

by Crystal Paul

Emily and Charlotte Brontë are arguably some of classic literature’s most romantic writers, right? So, what better place to look for dating inspiration than in these ladies’ books? There's a lot to learn here, for better or worse.

Since you are also a badass, stubbornly independent and resilient Jane Eyre is always a great character from whom to seek out words of wisdom on dating. Jane doesn’t compromise her own sense of self and morality for Mr. Rochester’s “pretty” face, and, let’s face it, sometimes you could use a few words of Eyre-ian wisdom before you get swept away by your own Mr./Mrs. Talk, Dark, and kinda screwed up.

Wuthering Heights, on the other hand is a bit… hm… creepier, shall we say? Unless what you’re looking for in your dating life is a lot of obsession, you might be thinking you’ll be taking more from the DON'Ts column of Emily's characters than from the DOs. But in case you get stuck in a weird situation — after all, Dating Land can be just as creepy and crazy-making a place as anywhere — don't write off all of their advice; after all, who’d know how to better navigate the odd stuff?

Behold, quotes that'll get you through any situation love might throw at you, courtesy of the Brontës:

"A good heart will help you to a bonny face… and a bad one will turn the bonniest into something worse than ugly."

— Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights (Nelly to Heathcliff)

Be a good person, look for a good person. Pretty simple.

“Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves.”

— Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights (Nelly to young Heathcliff)

Nelly, Nelly… she wasn’t always the nicest person in the world, but she was onto something here. A little pride goes a long way… to making two people seriously seriously miserable and crazed by the end of this book. So maybe if you find that Mr. Tinder is actually turning out to be more like Mr. Tender (yeah, I did that), and you actually like the guy, for crying out loud, just say so.

“It does good to no woman to be flattered by her superior, who cannot possibly intend to marry her; and it is madness in all women to let a secret love kindle within them, which, if unreturned and unknown, must devour the life that feeds it; and, if discovered and responded to, must lead, ignis-fatus-like, into miry wilds whence there is no extrication.”

― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (Jane Eyre)

When translated into modern-ese, this advice is something more like, “Don’t date the boss; it only leads to trouble.” I mean, or do, but be ready for all the wife in the attic, burned down house, missing arm stuff that comes with it.

“I know no weariness of my Edward's society: he knows none of mine, any more than we each do the pulsation of the heart that beats in our separate bosoms; consequently, we are ever together. To be together is for us to be at once free as in solitude, as gay as in company. We talk, I believe, all day long: to talk to each other is but more animated and an audible thinking."

— Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (Jane Eyre)

Why settle for anything less than someone you can be alone together with?

“Our power of being happy lies a good deal in ourselves, I believe.”

― Charlotte Brontë, Shirley (Caroline Helstone to Shirley)

Shirley is a lesser-known, but amazingly woman powerful, book by Charlotte Brontë, with the two leading ladies dropping gems of brilliance like this left and right. This one should be tattooed on every dating person’s forehead before they venture out into that proverbial sea full of plentiful fish.

“Wise people say it is folly to think anybody perfect; and as to likes and dislikes, we should be friendly to all, and worship none.”

— Charlotte Brontë, Villette (Lucy Snowe to six-year-old Paulina)

Lucy Snowe was clearly on a mission to rid this girl of all harmful illusions literally from the crib. This comes right after she tells her that “all boys” are “full of faults.”

“I am not an angel,' I asserted; 'and I will not be one till I die: I will be myself. Mr. Rochester, you must neither expect nor exact anything celestial of me — for you will not get it, any more than I shall get it of you: which I do not at all anticipate.”

― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (Jane to Mr. Rochester)

Speaking of faults, you know you’re no angel either, and don’t let that potential boo piece get away with idealizing you either. If they like you, they’ve gotta like all the gritty, neurotic, weird parts too. In fact...

“I'll be as dirty as I please, and I like to be dirty, and I will be dirty!”

― Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights (Catherine to Heathcliff)

You go right ahead, girl! Be dirty!

“Honest people don’t hide their deeds.”

— Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights (Nelly to Isabella)

When you’re on that first date, and s/he keeps evading that “so, what do you do for a living,” question like evading harmless basic questions IS what s/he does for a living.

“Life is so constructed that an event does not, cannot, will not, match the expectation.”

― Charlotte Brontë, Villette (Lucy Snowe to herself)

Villette does that whole nixing the illusion thing well, right? But it’s real. You go into date one expecting angsty fireworks and wide-eyed adoration, you’ll be disappointed by even what would have been a darn good date otherwise. That said...

“I desired more...than was within my reach. Who blames me? Many call me discontented. I couldn't help it: the restlessness is in my nature; it agitated me to pain sometimes.”

― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (Jane Eyre)

Nothing wrong with aiming high. You certainly don’t want to lower your expectations.

“I'll walk where my own nature would be leading. It vexes me to choose another guide.”

― Charlotte Brontë, untitled poem

OK, OK, so it’s from Charlotte Brontë herself, not a character, but in a world full of magazines and blogs and nosy coupled-up friends telling you everything about what you should be doing to land Mr. or Ms. Right, it’s a good thing to remember to just do you… or, at the very least, choose who you take your advice from wisely, and do what the Brontës tell you to do, dammit.

Images: Giphy (11); ABC; Focus Features