Yes, “Swifterature” is a real thing. There’s even a university in Belgium offering a course in analyzing her lyrics. As an unapologetic Swifty, I’m offering my own guide to Taylor Swift literary analysis, focusing solely on the Brontë Sisters.
Jane Eyre & “All Too Well”
The similarities between Taylor Swift’s song “All Too Well” and Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre are both subtle and striking.
They share a common narrative of romantic love, loss, and regret, providing a unique insight into the human experience.
Plus, both the song and the book are unusually long. Finally, both tell stories about a young girl falling for an older man.
Taylor Swift sings about an intense and passionate relationship that has come to an end. She reflects on the memories of the relationship and how it has impacted her life. Similarly, Jane Eyre struggles with her feelings for Mr. Rochester throughout the novel. Both the song and the novel explore the ways that these characters still feel the pain of their unrequited love, long after it is gone.
The themes of loneliness and isolation are also prominent in both works. In “All Too Well,” Taylor Swift sings:
“And I forget about you long enough to forget why I needed to…”
This captures the feeling of being alone, even in the presence of others. Similarly, Jane Eyre is often isolated and alone throughout the novel, and her loneliness is more than physical, as she often feels emotionally isolated from those around her.
The characters in both works also face inner turmoil. In the song, Taylor Swift sings:
“Maybe we got lost in translation, maybe I asked for too much/But maybe this thing was a masterpiece, ’til you tore it all up.”
Similarly, Jane Eyre must choose between staying with Rochester and facing a life of social ostracism, or leaving him and being alone for the rest of her life. Both characters face choices that will have lasting effects on their lives.
Wuthering Heights & “Haunted”
Emily Brontë’s classic novel Wuthering Heights has themes of passionate love, revenge, and the destructive power of obsession.
The same is true with Swift’s song “Haunted” which also explores the idea of a passionate and destructive love story. In “Haunted”, Swift uses dark imagery to capture the intensity of a relationship gone wrong. Brontë, on the other hand, uses an intricate plot and complex characters to capture the consequences of a love affair between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, which eventually leads to tragedy.
The core of Swift’s song is about an intense yet doomed love, with lyrics like:
“Can’t breathe whenever you’re gone/Can’t turn back now, I’m haunted.”
Swift has managed to capture the intensity and danger of an obsessive love affair in her music. She created a hauntingly familiar atmosphere, one that evokes the same feelings of passion, desperation, and tragedy that Bronte’s novel did so many years ago.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall & “Tell Me Why”
The similarities and connections between Taylor Swift’s song “Tell Me Why” and Anne Brontë’s novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall may seem unlikely at first glance, but the two works reveal a shared theme of vulnerability and the power of resilience.
At the core of “Tell Me Why” is a story of heartbreak and heartache, but Swift hints that the relationship may have been emotionally or even physically abusive, with lyrics like:
“But you know you got a mean streak/Makes me run for cover when you’re around/Here’s to you and your temper/Yes, I remember what you said last night/And I know that you see what you’re doing to me/Tell me why.”
In the same vein, Anne Brontë’s novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a story of the effects of domestic abuse on the victim’s emotional and psychological wellbeing. The protagonist, Helen Huntingdon, is subjected to immense psychological and physical abuse at the hands of her husband, Arthur Huntingdon. Here, too, there is a sense of confusion, as Helen struggles to understand why her husband has treated her so cruelly and why he cannot see how wrong his behavior is. In the novel, Helen is presented as a strong, resilient woman who is able to find strength in her suffering and eventually escape from her abusive husband.
These two works share a common theme of resilience and strength in the face of adversity.
I’ve made no secret of my awe and respect for Taylor Swift’s lyric writing ability, and I also love using the Brontë sisters as inspiration for my own fiction. Check out my Charlotte Bronte-inspired short story, You and Jane, published by Abandon Journal. There’s also my Tenant of Wildfell Hall-inspired short story, “Everything A Bronte Fan Could Hope For,” published by Idle Ink. Also, you can read an early version of my short story “Seven Weeks of Wuthering Heights” here on laurellit.com.
Finally, please check out my novel, Just Like the Brontë Sisters, which is TOTALLY like Taylor Swift’s “Anti-Hero.” But you’ll have to read it to figure out why 🙂