Differences in the characters of Helen and Gilbert. Helen is a fascinating woman, strong, determined and intelligent and a proto-feminist, albeit she is sometimes a bit too fond of preaching morality. Gilbert comes across as hot-headed, rash and ever so slightly stupid, albeit also quite a solid and decent guy (as seen mostly in his interactions with her son), and it's a bit of a stretch to imagine why such a fascinating woman as Helen would fall for him. Possibly it's that he is the first potential suitor she has come across who is also a decent human being? In any case , the only thing they seem to have in common is a liking for suffering and a love of literature.
An interesting note on class in the story is in the final chapters of the novel when Gilbert Markham begins to have doubts about the possibility of ever getting together with Helen, because he at some point realises that they come from different social classes. I had him pegged at the beginning as a member of the landed gentry, but apparently he is "just" a well-off farmer, a step below Helen, who is a member of the landed gentry, and it is even suggested that with her money and social position, she could easily marry into the nobility and that a marriage between her and Gilbert would me a mésalliance.
And oh, yeah, something others have mentioned: I got Jane Austen vibes reading parts of this story.
Reading the book was really only part I of part 1 of my Brontë project. I deliberately didn't read anything that night give away the story in the book before I began reading it, because I wanted to come to it without preconceptions and possible prejudices. I intend to treat the other books in the same way. However, now I have finished it, I am having fun reading reviews and supplementary material
found around the web and it's interesting to see the different reactions
to and reviews of this novel.
Now I think I must get my hands on the
DVD of the second TV series, starring Tara Fitzgerald as Helen and Toby
Stephens (oh my!) as Gilbert. Apparently Stephens is considered well
suited to Brontë material, since he has also starred as Jane Eyre's Mr. Rochester. (Maybe I should wait for my re-read of Jane Eyre to address this, but really, I must ask: Why is it that handsome, even beautiful, men always get chosen for that part, when Mr. Rochester in the book is a striking rather than good-looking man?)
I have had a good laugh over the TV Tropes list of tropes used in the story, which, if printed out, would fill a good 8 pages. (Going through any list on TV Tropes can take hours, even days, because many of the tropes are so imaginatively named that one simply must investigate them better).