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A study about wuthering heights
Scris de mihaiela lazar   
Vineri, 08 Februarie 2019 00:00

A STUDY ABOUT WUTHERING HEIGHTS

Prof. Adriana- Maria Ştefănescu

Liceul Tehnologic Energetic „Regele Ferdinand I”, Timişoara

Emily Jane Brontë (1818 –1848) was a British novelist and poet, now best remembered for her only novel Wuthering Heights, a classic of English literature. Emily was the second oldest of the three Brontë sisters, being younger than Charlotte and older than Anne. She published under the masculine pen name Ellis Bell.

Again publishing as Ellis Bell, Brontë published her defining work, Wuthering Heights, in December 1847. At first, reviewers did not know what to make of Wuthering Heights. It was only after Brontë‘s death that the book developed its reputation as a literary masterwork. She died of tuberculosis on December 19, 1848, nearly two months after her brother, Branwell, succumbed to the same disease. Her sister Anne also fell ill and died of tuberculosis the following May.

Withering Heights takes place in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The story is set in the north of England a long way from any big cities or towns. People travel on horses or they walk long distances between houses and villages. There are no telephones and there is no electricity. Wuthering Heights is about two families - the Lintons and the Earnshaws. The Lintons are very rich and own a big house and lots of land and farms. They have many servants and farmworkers and they are very important people. The Earnshaws are not as rich as the Lintons. But they are not poor- they own a farm and they have some servants and farmworkers.

The notion that a woman must rely on a man for survival is prevalent in the culture where this story takes place. Despite the limitations they face, each of the women in the novel is portrayed with a degree of strength that supports Emily Bronte's feminist views.

Catherine Earnshaw, the heroine of Wuthering Heights, breaks out of the Victorian stereotypes of womanhood by blending masculine and feminine qualities. Catherine's character can easily be viewed as self-absorbed, childish, and stubborn. By today's standards, a woman who marries for wealth and security may not be considered strong, but in Catherine's world, it was the only means by which a woman could ever hope to get ahead. We learn that Catherine’s marriage to Edgar is actually a misguided attempt to make things better for Heathcliff.

Isabella (Heathcliff’s wife), on the other hand, is often portrayed as immature, spoiled, and foolish. During her childhood at the Grange, one would never suspect that she has it in her to stand strong when she needs to, but her time at Wuthering Heights after marrying Heathcliff proves otherwise. She harbours romantic notions of a violent, passionate romance with Heathcliff. There is violence, but very little passion. Isabella does an amazing thing for a woman of her time and leaves her abusive relationship, striking out on her own to settle near London. Isabella shows that a woman can survive on her own as she cares not only for herself, but for Linton, the child she delivers a few months after leaving the Heights.

Nelly, the servant, narrates much of the story. She tries to tell it objectively, but she is so much like family that her perceptions may be skewed by love. She offers honest advice to the characters in the story and speaks her mind, while remembering that she is not an equal.

At the end of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff, the novel's dark, brooding antihero, undergoes a huge attitude shift before dying suddenly. Wuthering Heights is not just a sentimental romance novel. It is a presentation of life, an essay on love, and a glimpse at relationships.

Structurally, the novel uses a framing device—a separate story within which the main narrative is presented. This frame consists in the tale of the visit of a gentleman named Lockwood to Wuthering Heights. An unsettling encounter with what he believes to be Catherine’s ghost traumatizes him deeply, and he quizzes Nelly Dean, a former servant of Catherine, about the history of the house. The story recounted by Nelly unfolds for the reader as it does for Lockwood.

Wuthering Heights is the way that it adapts Victorian gothic themes. Other contemporary writers, such as Charles Dickens, used gothic elements within realist novels, thus deepening the themes, style, and meanings associated with earlier gothic literature. Instead of the crumbling medieval castle, for example, Dickens portrayed teetering urban landscapes, rife with poverty and exploitation. In place of the terrifying manor house, with its victimized inhabitants within, Dickens presented the horrifying abuse that occurred in the gloomy London streets outside the home. Brontë took things further than Dickens, expanding on gothic literary traditions through the character of Heathcliff, who is brought to the house of Wuthering Heights as a boy. When he arrives in the household, and indeed throughout the story, he is referred to as a “gypsy.” For the Victorians, the word “gypsy” had several connotations: it indicated someone of a different race, and it was also used as an insult for someone who was homeless, a wanderer, and therefore to be feared. Brontë’s more complex take on the gothic is also evident in her portrayal of the conflicts within her characters’ minds. Catherine, for example, when forced to choose between Heathcliff and Linton, does not sleep for three days and is unable to distinguish between imagination and reality.

Brontë brought the raw realities of the outside into the home, recalling earlier gothic narratives where households were not sites of refuge or comfort, but spaces of familial abuse. In doing so, she reveals to her contemporary reader that the “slavery” and “homelessness” associated with Heathcliff are also evident within the idealized domestic sphere: in effect, the home is no safer than the crime ridden gothic streets.As an abandoned boy found in Liverpool, Heathcliff has been associated not only with gypsies but also with the slave trade of the period. As a character, he may be seen as a gothic manifestation of the outside, bringing the terror of the unfamiliar into the domestic environment. Through his strong attachment to Catherine, who, like

him, experiences only neglect and abuse within the house of Wuthering Heights, his presence reveals that crime and exploitation were not simply the domain of the urban working-class poor.

References:

1. Agathocleus, T. and Dean, A. 2002. Teaching Literature: A Companion. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

2. Alexander, M. 2000. A History of English Literature. Hampshire: Macmillan Press Ltd.

3. Delaney D., Ward C., Fiorina C. 2003. Fields of Vision, vol.2. Harlow: Longman

4. Duff, A. and Maley, A. 1990. Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press

 

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