A Drama Ahead of Its Time
When Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights was first published in 1847, under the name of Ellis Bell, it received mixed reviews. Although some critics saw the potential evident in the cyclical plot and other literary devices, many others were shocked and dismayed by the unashamedly dark storyline. To be sure, Wuthering Heights was a very different book than what was generally considered acceptable during that era. In direct contrast to Emily Bronte's novel, Susannah Rowson's Charlotte Temple (1828) tells the story of a young lady who permits her beau to steal her away in the middle of the night. Predictably, he impregnates her and then abandons her, after which she dies of a broken heart. As was common in novels of the era, Charlotte Temple used a fictional story to instruct its readers--primarily young ladies--in what was expected of them.