The mood was calm yet determined as dawn rose above the ten-day-old tent city calling itself Occupy Haworth. In the shadow of the very center of Bronte power, crowds of people gathered to express their disillusionment and have their voices heard.
“I just think this one family has too much influence over storytelling, especially what it means to be romantic in Britain,” said a man who asked to be identified as a post-Ffordeian Bronte scholar. “I think it’s time we stood up for ourselves—not everybody’s a Romantic, you know. Some of us form healthy attachments borne of love and respect, and it’s like they just steamroll right over us on the way to the Moors!”
A young lady who wished to remain anonymous, presumably to avoid repercussions from the family’s many connections, added, “Just because they had three kids who could write a little, they trade on their name. It’s not fair to the rest of us.”
Scores of protesters milled about, shaking their signs in the direction of the gift shop and repeating, via the human megaphone system adopted by the Occupy movement at large, first lines from novels, such as “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul,” and “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Banners ranged from “Let Helen live!” to “St. John is a douchebag.”
A number of Haworth employees and pro-Bronte activists made a point of engaging with the protesters from a safe shouting distance. “Get a library card!” They shouted. Protesters appeared unruffled, though tempers began to wear thin when the passers-by added, “Plus, you really ought to try Villette again—it’s quite good!”
It’s unclear how long the Occupy Haworth protest can continue without declaring any particular ideals or naming any specific demands. But one thing is clear: the power of the Brontes doesn’t translate just outside the gates of Haworth. “I just don’t think Mr. Rochester’s that hot,” said a young lady carrying a sign bearing the popular slogan Name Mrs. DeWinter. “And I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that. I guess I am the ninety-nine percent.”