“The Greatest Heroines of All Time”

“Right now, a film crew is building a replica of the parsonage where Charlotte grew up on the moors, and I am not the only Brontë fan breathlessly following its progress on the Keighley News website. The “three weird sisters”, as Ted Hughes called them, and their heroines, still fascinate.

And which modern heroines will we still be reading in 200 years? I don’t think we’ll care much about Bella Swan, of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight. Bella’s favourite novel is Wuthering Heights, but her vampire boyfriend hates it. For him, “The characters are ghastly people who ruin each other’s lives.” (He is, it must be said, a nasty piece of work himself.) The Twilight love triangle owes much to Cathy’s story of being torn between two men, but unlike Cathy, Bella is a clumsy drip.

There are more echoes of Wuthering Heights in Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy. Katniss Everdeen lives in a dystopian future where children have to fight to the death on TV. She has to choose between two men, a kind baker called Peeta (who is basically Edgar) and a rebellious hunter called Gale (who owes much to Heathcliff). The choice is complicated by Katniss’s struggle to survive, and by her political awakening.

You can argue that the ending is too conventional, you can argue about whether Katniss makes the right choice, you can argue about the politics – but the very fact there is so much to argue about makes me think that Katniss is a heroine who will last…”



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