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Emily Brontë has become mythologized both as an individual and as one of the Brontë sisters. She has been cast as Absolute Individual, as Tormented Genius, and as Free Spirit Communing with Nature; the trio of sisters±Charlotte, Emily, and Anne±have been fashioned into Romantic Rebels, as well as Solitary Geniuses. Their lives have been sentimentalized, their psyches psychoanalyzed, and their home life demonized. In truth, their lives and home were strange and often unhappy. Their father was a withdrawn man who dined alone in his own room; their Aunt Branwell, who raised them after the early death of their mother, also dined alone in her room. The two oldest sisters died as children. For three years Emily supposedly spoke only to family members and servants. Their brother Branwell, an alcoholic and a drug addict, put the family through the hell of his ravings and threats of committing suicide or murdering their father, his physical and mental degradation, his bouts of delirium tremens, and, finally, his death. As children, Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne had one another and books as companions; in their isolation, they created an imaginary kingdom called Angria and filled notebooks describing its turbulent history and character. Around 1831, thirteen-year old Emily and eleven-year old Anne broke from the Angrian fantasies which Branwell and Charlotte had dominated to create the alternate history of Gondal. Emily maintained her interest in Gondal and continued to spin out the fantasy with pleasure till the end of her life. Nothing of the Gondal history remains except Emily's poems, the references in the journal fragments by Anne and Emily, the birthday papers of 1841 and 1845, and Anne's list of the names of characters and locations. Little is known directly of Emily Brontë. All that survives of Emily's own words about herself is two brief letters, two diary papers written when she was thirteen and sixteen, and two birthday papers, written when she was twenty-three and twenty-seven. Almost everything that is known about her comes from the writings of others, primarily Charlotte. Even Charlotte's novel, Shirley, has been used as a biographical source because Charlotte created Shirley, as she told her biographer and friend Elizabeth Gaskell, to be "what Emily Brontë would have been had she been placed in health and prosperity." Often Wuthering Heights is used to construct a biography of Emily's life, personality, and beliefs. Edward Chitharn equates Emily, the well-read housekeeper of the family home, with Nelly based on the similarity of their roles and the similarity of their names, "Nelly" being short for "Ellen" which is similar to Emily's pseudonym "Ellis." The supposed anorexia of Catherine, who stops eating after Edgar's ultimatum, and of Heathcliff, who stops eating at the end, is used as proof of Emily's anorexia; support for this interpretation is found in the tendency of all four Brontë siblings not to eat when upset. Alternately, Emily's supposed anorexia is used to explain aspects of the novel. Katherine Frank characterizes Emily as a constantly hungry anorexic who denies her constant hunger; "Even more importantly," Frank asks, "how was this physical hunger related to a more pervasive hunger in her life±hunger for power and experience, for love and happiness, fame and fortune and fulfilment?" Well, one expression of these hungers is the
intense focus on food, hunger, and starvation in Wuthering Heights . Furthermore, the kitchen is the main setting, and most of the passionate or violent scenes occur there. Similarly, Emily's poems are used to interpret her novel, particularly those poems discussing isolation, rebellion, and freedom. Readings of Wuthering Heights as a mystical novel, a religious novel, or a visionary novel call on "No coward soul is mine," one of her best poems. The well known "Riches I hold in light esteem" is cited to explain her choice of a reclusive lifestyle, as is"A Chainless Life." The fact that many of these poems were written as part of the Gondal chronicles and are dramatic speeches of Gondal characters is blithely ignored or explained away. (In 1844 Emily went through her poems, destroying some, revising others, and writing new poems; she collected them and clearly labeled the Gondal poems.) The poems and Wuthering Heights have also been connected. The editor of her poems, C.W. Hatfield, sees the same mind at work in both, and Charles Morgan perceives in them "the same unreality of this world, the same greater reality of another,... and a unique imagination."
About Wuthering Heights
Wuthering Heights is a large mansion, positioned in the dark and wild moors of Yorkshire. It is home to Mr Earnshaw and his two children, Catherine and Hindley. When Earnshaw returns from a trip to Liverpool with an orphaned boy, and states that he is to be accepted into the family, the drama of the story begins. The boy is named Heathcliff, which serves for both Christian and surname. Catherine and Heathcliff become very close, but Hindley resents the newcomer, and sensing that his father favours the orphan, he becomes insanely jealous, and violent towards Heathcliff. Upon Mr Earnshaw¶s death Hindley inherits the estate and sets about making Heathcliff¶s life a misery. Meanwhile, the relationship between Heathcliff and Catherine has developed into love. However, Catherine¶s head is turned by a wealthy neighbour, Edgar Linton, who offers all the things that Heathcliff cannot: Wealth, social status and security. She therefore acquiesces to become Linton¶s wife.
Heathcliff: The Moors reflected in the Man.
Heathcliff is driven mad by jealousy and disappears from Wuthering Heights. When he emerges three years later he is a changed man. Eaten up with bitterness and anger, he is as wild, passionate, and dangerous as the moors that he inhabits. He is determined to make Earnshaw and Linton pay for the misery they have caused him.
a platonic but passionate relationship that continues long after Catherine's death. she speaks of her feelings towards each man . are just as relevant now as they were in the nineteenth century and this is possibly the reason that the novel is as popular now as it has ever been. and even a musical. love and jealousy. including films. despite the fact that in life she married another. appearing in 1847 under the pseudonym Ellis Bell. Key Themes in Wuthering Heights Love: the novel displays different types of love. who is brutal and cruel to a surly young man and woman that live with him in the mansion. Wuthering Heights was Emily Bronte's first and only published novel. Any discussion of the novel should include an understanding of the main themes or ideas presented.com/content/wuthering-heights-a110113#ixzz16SbOSMFq THEMES IN WUTHERING HEIGHTS sonage Museum Got an exam coming up on Wuthering Heights and not sure where to start? This step-by-step revision guide will give you all the essentials for passing that test. and Heathcliff. Before she marries Edgar Linton. There have been many modern adaptations. The themes of passion.Read on y y y Visit The Bronte Haworth Parsonage Bronte's Wuthering Heights Haworth: Visit Bronte Country The story is narrated retrospectively by a servant of the Wuthering Heights estate. plays. and the narrative structure that makes the telling of the story so dramatic.suite101."My love for Linton is like the foliage in . The most famous relationship in the book is that of Catherine and Heathcliff. This is spliced with the current view of ghostly goings-on at the house. Read more at Suite101: Wuthering Heights: Emily Bronte's Most Famous Novel http://www. as an older man and owner of Wuthering Heights.
The universe is made up of two opposite forces. When Heathcliff eventually dies. the love of Frances and Hindley. he also demonstrates his desire for material goods. and ensnares his sister Isabella into an unhappy marriage to spite him.suite101. I'm well aware. He hates Hindley as a result of the latter's unkindness towards him when they were children. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight. Revenge: much of the violence and cruelty in the novel arises from Heathcliff's desire for revenge over certain characters. Is it possible that one of the other themes constitutes the center of the novel. the calm. I am Heathcliff!" (chapter 9). which results in Heathcliff's flight and causes him to acquire Wuthering Heights. Nelly. as winter changes the trees. but necessary. The loves of the second generation. he blames Edgar for stealing Catherine away from him. and to dispossess Hareton. Read more at Suite101: Revision Guide to Wuthering Heights: How to Study Emily Bronte's Tale of Cathy and Heathcliff http://www. often to the exclusion of every other theme±this despite the fact that other kinds of love are presented and that Catherine dies half way through the novel. Catherine and Heathcliff are elemental creatures of the storm. Not only does Heathcliff have no scruples about using innocent characters to exact his revenge. Wuthering Heights and the Earnshaws express the storm. representing the union of the Lintons and the Earnshaws and the hope of a happier future. or are the other themes secondary to the theme of love? Consider the following themes: Clash of elemental forces. Hareton). and the healthy love affair that blossoms between Cathy and Hareton. as his vengeance over Hindley and Edgar also advance his plans to gain ownership of the two houses of the novel. Edgar's devotion to his wife Catherine and then daughter Cathy. and the "susceptible heart" of Lockwood receive scant attention from such readers. Other types of love are also shown in the novel: Nelly's maternal feelings towards many of the characters (Catherine. Cathy. and retaliates by bringing up Hindley's son Hareton to be coarse and uneducated. Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. But is love the central issue in this novel? Is its motive force perhaps economic? The desire for wealth does motivate Catherine's marriage.com/content/revision-guide-to-wutheringheights-a115763#ixzz16Sb0DH3n The concept that almost every reader of Wuthering Heights focuses on is the passion-love of Catherine and Heathcliff. Thrushcross Grange and the Lintons.the woods: time will change it. to appropriate Thrushcross Grange. storm and calm. it is with a light in his eyes as he rejoins his love at last (chapter 33). Similarly. This theme is discussed more fully in Later Critical response to Wuthering Heights .
In the passion-driven characters±Catherine. legal. Mr. like Heathcliff's holding Catherine responsible for his suffering after her death? Suffering also sears the weak. melancholy recluse. This theme is discussed more fully in Wuthering Heights as Socio-Economic Novel. this behavior raises questions about whether they are cruel by nature or are formed by childhood abuse and to what extent they should be held responsible for or blamed for their cruelties. and physical forms. The male heads of household abuse females and males who are weak or powerless. Catherine and Heathcliff show the strength of children to survive. This theme is discussed more fully in Religion. and later he imprisons both Cathy and Nellie. Study of childhood and the family. Metaphysics. Isabella and her son Linton become vindictive. The abusive patriarch and patriarchal family. Earnshaw's partiality to his own advantage. making no return of affection. Despite abuse. It is not just love that Catherine and Heathcliff seek but a higher. spiritual existence which is permanent and unchanging. also. A vindictive Hindley strips Heathcliff of his position in the family. Heathcliff literally incarcerates Isabella (as her husband and legal overseer). with loving selfishness Edgar confines his daughter Cathy to the boundaries of Thrushcross Grange. like many mistreated children. The novel is set at a time when capitalism and industrialization are changing not only the economy but also the traditional social structure and the relationship of the classes. This can be seen in their use of various kinds of imprisonment or confinement. The hostility toward and the abuse of children and family members at Wuthering Heights cut across the generations. and Mysticism. thereby trapping him in a degraded laboring position. Earnshaw's disapproval of Catherine hardens her and. like the death of Hindley's wife.The clash of economic interests and social classes. financial. Cathy is isolated from the rest of the household after her marriage to Linton. The yeoman or respectable farming class (Hareton) was being destroyed by the economic alliance of the newly-wealthy capitalists (Heathcliff) and the traditional power-holding gentry (the Lintons). The effects of intense suffering. Earnshaw expects Catherine to behave properly and hurtfully rejects her "bad-girl" behavior. Heathcliff. The children of love. Heathcliff claims Hindley's horse and uses Mr. The striving for transcendence. Wrapped in the self-centeredness of childhood. The savagery of children finds full expression in Hindley's animosity toward Heathcliff and in Heathcliff's plans of vengeance. as Catherine makes clear when she compares her love for Linton to the seasons and her love for Heathcliff to the rocks. The dying Catherine looks forward to achieving this state through death. Edgar's ultimatum that Catherine must make a final choice between him or Heathcliff restricts Catherine's identity by forcing her to reject an essential part of her nature. she becomes rebellious. Inflicting pain provides them some relief. which takes social. and Edgar turns into a self-indulgent. Mr. are able to overcome Heathcliff's abuse and to find love and a future with . or is at least some of their torment self-inflicted. and Hindley±pain leads them to turn on and to torment others. emotional. the degraded Hareton and the imprisoned Cathy. Is all their suffering inflicted by others or by outside forces. and abuse at least partly forms the adult characters and behavior of Catherine and Heathcliff .
and social status. Displacement. she alternates between the constraint of Wuthering Heights and the freedom of the moors. Thrushcross Grange. in puberty. Lockwood cannot see the stone markers. and loses his privileged status after Mr. Communication and understanding. Trying to return to the Grange in a snowstorm. Hareton is dispossessed of property. with Nature. Catherine is thrown out of heaven. repeatedly Nellie does not understand what Catherine is talking about or refuses to accept what Catherine is saying. being removed first to Thrushcross Grange and then to Wuthering Heights. education. and with a spiritual realm. Both Catherine and Heathcliff find their bodies prisons which trap their spirits and prevent the fulfillment of their desires: Catherine yearns to be united with Heathcliff. The narrative structure of the novel revolves around communication and understanding. Heathcliff enters the novel possessed of nothing. and wanders the moors for twenty years as a ghost. Isabella refuses to heed Catherine's warning and Nellie's advice about Heathcliff. in yielding to the comforts and security of Thrushcross Grange? Does Heathcliff fall in his "moral teething" of revenge and pursuit of property? Is Wutheirng Heights or Thrushcross Grange the fallen world? Is the fall from heaven to hell or from hell to heaven? Does Catherine really lose the Devil/Heathcliff (this question arises from the assumption that Brontë is a Blakeian subbversive and visionary)? The theme of a fall relies heavily on the references to heaven and hell that run through the novel. sees herself an exile at Thrushcross Grange at the end. though from what state the characters fall from or to is disputed. A superstitious Nellie refuses to let Catherine tell her dreams. Is John Hagan right that "Wuthering Heights is such a remarkable work partly because it persuades us forcibly to pity victims and victimizers alike"? Self-imposed or self-generated confinement and escape. The fall. she is restricted by her injury to a couch at Thrushcross Grange. Heathcliff displaces Hindley in the family structure. Confinement also defines the course of Catherine's life: in childhood. Isabella cannot return to her beloved Thrushcross Grange and brother. And probably the most serious mis-communication of all is Heathcliff's hearing only that it would degrade Catherine to marry him. Heathcliff. Catherine dreams of being expelled from heaven and deliriously sees herself an exile cast out from the "heaven" of Wuthering Height±a literal as well as a symbolic fall. with a lost childhood freedom. Heathcliff wants possession of and union with Catherine. like . beginning with Lockwood's explicit reference to Wuthering Heights as a "misanthrope's heaven" and ending with the implied heaven of the ghosts of Heathcliff and Catherine roaming the moors together. Earnshaw's death. Does Catherine fall. Cathy is displaced from her home. dispossession. where she feels displaced. and Nelly enlightens him by communicating the history of the Earnshaws and the Lintons. finally womanhood and her choice of husband confine her to the gentility of Thrushcross Grange. Recently a number of critics have seen the story of a fall in this novel. Linton is displaced twice after his mother's death. and exile. Lockwood is unable to communicate with or understand the relationships at Wuthering Heights.each other. is not even given a last or family name. notably after she locks herself in her room. from which she escapes into the freedom of death.
he repeats what Nellie tells him." POINT OF VIEW IN WUTHERING HEIGHTS Any serious discussion of Wuthering Heights must consider the complex point of view that Brontë chose. and desire for revenge have been connected to Milton's Paradise Lost and parallels drawn between Milton's epic and Brontë's novel. do his reactions invalidate our everyday assumptions and judgments? This reading assumes that his reactions are insensitive and unintelligent. . so throughout the book the major characters are balanced male and female. If so. affluent gentleman.g. Inevitably the ideas of expulsion from heaven. (3) Just as the narrative is divided between a male and a female narrator. "how chang'd from an angel of light to exile in a fiery lake. exile. Lockwood tells the entire story. a city man. educated. occasionally she is narrating what others have told her. we do not feel emotionally distant from the characters or events. you must determine what Lockwood and Nelly contribute to the story±what kind of people are they? what values do they represent? how reliable are they or. including the servants Joseph and Nelly or Joseph and Zillah. consider the following possibilities: y y y Lockwood and Nelly are opposites in almost every way. us). do they help make the fantastic behavior believable if not understandable? Does the sentimental Lockwood contrast with the pragmatic Nelly? It has been suggested that the original purpose of the novel was the education and edification of Lockwood in the nature of passion-love. selfeducated servant. most readers are swept along by the impetuosity and tempestuous behavior of Heathcliff and Catherine. but of course the novel completely outgrew this limited aim. even if occasionally confused by the time shifts and the duplication of names. he is an outsider. (2) Lockwood's illness contrasts with her good health. This balancing of male and female and the lovers seeking union suggests that at a psychological level the Jungian animus and anima are struggling for integration in one personality.Satan. Isabella's experiences at Wuthering Heights or the servant Zilla's view of events. Consequently. Does Lockwood represent the point of view of the ordinary reader (that is. Indeed. To decide why she chose this narrative approach and how effective it is.. under what conditions are they reliable? As you read the novel. Or do he and Nelly serve as a bridge from our usual reality to the chaotic reality of Wuthering Heights? By enabling us to identify with normal responses and socially acceptable values. at times we are three steps removed from events. she has never traveled beyond the Wuthering Heights-Thrushcross Grange-Gimmerton area. alternately. Nelly is a shrewd.. belongs to Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange in a way that the outsider Lockwood (or Heathcliff) never does. (1) Lockwood is a sophisticated. is relentless in his destructive pursuit of revenge. a local Yorkshirewoman. e. but except for his experiences as the renter of Thrushcross Grange and his response to Nelly. Brontë's ability to sweep the reader while distancing the narration reveals her mastery of her material and her genius as a writer. Catherine's pain at her change from free child to imprisoned adult is compared to Satan's speech to Beelzebub. thus. Contrary to what might be expected with such narrative distance from events. Nelly.
However. a group consisting of Heathcliff. more authoritative when she speaks of more conventional or ordinary events or behavior than of the extreme. one family. or is she deluded by vanity? Is Nelly's alliance or identification with any one character. diabolical schemer. In this case. I see no way we can answer this question.D. does this fact reflect the difficulty of making moral judgments in this novel? Is her interpretation of some characters or kinds of events more reliable than of others? Is she. alienated. we can compare the narrator's interpretation of characters and events with the conversations and behavior of the characters. y y y To what extent do we accept Nelly's point of view? Is her conventionality necessarily wrong or limited? Is it a valid point of view. often outrageous behavior of Heathcliff or Catherine? Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick notes that although Heathcliff talks about himself to Nelly with honesty and openness. depending on circumstances and her emotional response? Does she sympathize with the children she raised or helped to raise. and as precipitator of key events±requires more attention than Lockwood. she persists on seeing him as a secretive. did Lockwood change any of Nellie's story? This is. whether unintentionally. though one perhaps which cannot understand or accommodate the wild behavior she encounters? Does she represent normalcy? Is she a norm against which to judge the behavior of the other characters? Or does she contribute. The same principle would apply to Nellie. or does she switch sides. or deliberately. to the disasters which engulf her employers? To what extent is Nelly admirable? Is she superior to the other servants. a date Q. semi-consciously. for instance. why do so many people confide in or turn to Nelly? There are two more questions that can be raised about the reliability of Lockwood and Nelly. or one set of values consistent. consider the values the narrator holds and those held or expressed by the characters and their behavior. as a participant. The first is. for there are no internal or external conversations or events which would enable us to assess his narrative integrity. it seems to me. it is entirely another matter if we ask whether Nellie or if Lockwood misunderstood or misinterpreted the conversations and actions each narrates. Is Sedgwick's insight valid? If so. a futile question. and also look at the pattern of the novel in its entirety for clues in order to evaluate the narrator's reliability. if we wonder whether she deliberately lied to Lockwood or remembered events incorrectly. as she suggests. and Cathy? If Nelly's loyalties do keep shifting. based on a naturally patriarchal family . Catherine. Hareton. WUTHERING HEIGHTS AS SOCIO-ECONOMIC NOVEL The novel opens in 1801.Nelly±as the main narrator. what does it reveal about Nelly? Another question might be. Leavis believes Brontë chose in order "to fix its happenings at a time when the old rough farming culture.
" Kettle concludes. breeding. these changes produced Victorian class consciousness and µunnatural' ideal of gentility. For Arnold Kettle. senses that to achieve a full humanity. or family. and expropriating property) of Victorian society against those with power. Though the landed gentry and aristocracy resisted marrying into first-generation capitalist wealth. betrays his humanity. and the capitalist. Through the aspirations expressed in the love of Cathy and Hareton. from character. the traditional powerholders. Catherine's death inverts the common standards of bourgeois morality and so has "revolutionary force. born into the world of Wuthering Heights. "Wutherng Heights then. The area that the Brontës lived in." Writing nearly twenty-five years later. personal and spiritual. too. The criterion for defining a gentleman was shifting to money. and the traditional relationship of social classes was being disrupted by mushroom-new fortunes and an upwardly-aspiring middle class. we continue to sympathize with him because he is using the weapons and values (arranged marriages. Is Brontë supporting the status quo and upholding conventional values? Initially the answer would seem to be "no. the basic conflict and motive force of the novel are social in origin." The reader sympathizes with Heathcliff." Heathcliff is morally ruthless with his brutal analysis of the significance of Catherine's choosing Edgar and her rejecting the finer humanity he represents. it was a dominant force in English economy and society. He locates the source of Catherine and Heatcliff's affinity in the (class) rebellion forced on them by the injustice of Hindley and his wife Frances. he. Wuthering Heights may really suggest the necessity of preserving traditional ways. to be true to herself as a human being. spirited. they were willing to mix socially and to form economic alliances with the manufacturers and industrialists. As a result. the outcast slummy. Heathcliff recognizes some of the quality of his love for Catherine and the unimportance of revenge and property. the gypsy oppressed by a rigid class system and denigrated as "imp" or "fiend. accumulating money. This is not the way Marxist critics see the novel. . tamed and routed by social and cultural changes. when Emily Brontë was writing in 1847. the danger posed by the uncontrolled individual to the community becomes apparent. he thereby is enabled to regain his humanity and to achieve union with Catherine. of nineteenth-century capitalist society. He. Simultaneously with the struggle among these groups. who were pushing for social acceptance and political power." In 1801 the Industrial Revolution was under way in England. was to be challenged. turns to the lively." But as Heathcliff pursues his revenge and tyrannical persecution of the innocent. fearless girl who alone offers him human understanding and comradeship. his ruthlessness strips them of any romantic veneer. Like other novels of the 1830s and 40s which reveal the abuses of industrialism and overbearing individualism. she must associate herself totally with him in his rebellion against the tyranny of the Earnshaws and all that tyranny involves. "is an expression in the imaginative terms of art of the stresses and tensions and conflicts. And she. Marxist Terry Eagleton posits a complex and contradictory relationship between the landed gentry and aristocracy. an accommodation was developing based on economic interests. industrial middle classes. Despite Heathcliff's implacable revenge.life. This social-economic reality provides the context for socio-economic readings of the novel.
But Catherine's marriage and Hindley's abuse transform Heathcliff and his meaning in the social system. not continued conflict. which are in Marxist terms "surplus value. has no social or biological place in the existing social structure. Thus. From this impossibility comes what Eagleton calls Heathcliff's personal tragedy: his conflictive unity consisting of spiritual rejection and social integration. was particularly affected by these social and economic conditions because of the concentration of large estates and industrial centers in West Riding. However. and a predator. . he offers Catherine a non-social or pre-social relationship. However. having been raised in the yeoman class and having acquired his fortune outside it. he joins "spiritual forces" against the squirearchy. Hareton represents the yeoman class. Eagleton sees both class struggle and class accommodation in Wutheirng Heights. a transformation which reflects a reality about nature±nature is not really "outside" society because its conflicts are expressed in society. it may be a regrettable death±but it is a necessary death because the future requires a fusion of gentry and capitalist middle class. an expropriator. cozy Wuthering Heights. Proceeding from this view of mid-nineteenth century society. turning the ruling class's weapons of property accumulation and acquisitive marriage against them. which was being degraded." With Heathcliff's death a richer life than that of Thrushcross Grange also dies. Heathcliff relentlessly pursues his goal of possessing Catherine.the town of Haworth in West Riding. Society's need to tame/civilize the unbridled capitalist is handled in the civilizing of Hareton. because the capitalist class is no longer revolutionary. represented by the genteel Lintons. Eagleton acknowledges that ultimately the values of Thrushcross Grange prevail. the outsider. Heathcliff. Heathcliff the adult becomes a capitalist. he represents both rapacious capitalism and the rejection of capitalist society. This relationship outside society is "the only authentic form of living in a world of exploitation and inequality. In adopting the behavior of the exploiting middle classes. the novel does not fully succeed in reconciling or finding a way to express all Heathcliff's meanings. an escape from the conventional restrictions and material comforts of the upper classes. In other words. but that Brontë's sympathies lie with the more democratic. it cannot provide expression for Heathcliff's rejection of society for a pre-social freedom from society's restraints. Heathcliff's connection with nature is manifested in his running wild as a child and in Hindley's reducing him to a farm laborer." It is Heathcliff's expression of a natural non-social mode of being which gives the relationship its impersonal quality and makes the conflict one of nature versus society. The capitalist victory over the yeomanry is symbolized by the displacement of Joseph's beloved currant bushes for Catherine's flowers. Heathcliff works in common with the capitalist landowner Edgar Linton to suppress the yeoman class. an obsession that is unaffected by social realities.
taboos. and fears±fears of violation. 1786). dungeons. plays. and suspense and tends to the dramatic and the sensational. and TV series. all of which have been so frequently imitated and so poorly imitated that they have become stereotypes. a curious heroine with a tendency to faint and a need to be rescued±frequently. its use of the supernatural. become spooky basements or attics. It crosses boundaries. it presents transgression. an electric failure). which was enormously popular and quickly imitated by other novelists and soon became a recognizable genre. however. shadows. a flickering candle. Most of us immediately recognize the Gothic (even if we don't know the name) when we encounter it in novels. diabolism. omens and ancestral curses. a beam of moonlight in the blackness. But contemporary readers found the novel electrifyingly original and thrillingly suspenseful. movies. like rugged mountains. and nameless terrors. life and death. labyrinths. except for the villain Manfred. and catacombs which. ruined buildings which are sinister or which arouse a pleasing melancholy. like incest. with its remote setting. crypts. sometimes explicitly. the characters are insipid and flat. Sometimes covertly. and its medieval trappings. necrophilia. and extreme weather. horrifying (or terrifying) events or the threat of such happenings. To most modern readers. the action moves at a fast clip with no emphasis or suspense. supernatural manifestations. daylight and the dark. and of emotional collapse. or the suggestion of the supernatural. haunted or not (the castle plays such a key role that it has been called the main character of the Gothic novel). a hero whose true identity is revealed by the end of the novel. y y y y y y y extreme landscapes. despite the supernatural manifestations and a young maiden's flight through dark vaults. and winding stairs.THE ENGLISH GOTHIC NOVEL: A BRIEF OVERVIEW The English Gothic novel began with Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto (1765). thick forests. magic. of social chaos. consciousness and unconsciousness. or the only source of light failing (a candle blown out or. poetry. a passion-driven. underground passages. in modern houses. For some of us±and I include myself± safely experiencing dread or horror is thrilling and enjoyable. 1796) or the Middle East (William Beckford's Vathek. The genre takes its name from Otranto's medieval±or Gothic±setting. early Gothic novelists tended to set their novels in remote times like the Middle Ages and in remote places like Italy (Matthew Lewis's The Monk. wilful villain-hero or villain. ruined or intact. The Gothic creates feelings of gloom. What makes a work Gothic is a combination of at least some of these elements: y y y y y a castle. or icy wastes. dark corridors. mystery. The Castle of Otranto is dull reading. today. of imprisonment. .
pious. lovers. The weather-buffeted Wuthering Heights is the traditional castle. Like the conventional Gothic hero-villain. Middle-class women who wanted to write were hampered by the conventional image of ladies as submissive. Brontë has incorporated the Gothic trappings of imprisonment and escape. Are there no husbands. it undeniably contains Gothic elements." Lord Byron's "The Giaour. the heroine wooed by a dangerous and a good suitor. as a few critics have suggested. they had to overcome the conventional patronizing. friends to coddle and console? Are there no stockings to darn. in Heathcliff's being Catherine's illegitimate half-brother. A FEMINIST THEORY OF THE GOTHIC AND WUTHERING HEIGHTS Ellen Moers has propounded a feminist theory that relates women writers in general and Emily Brontë in particular to the Gothic. a form of literary feminism." and John Keats's "The Eve of St. and with typical Gothic excess he batters his head against a tree. In true Gothic fashion. specifically love crossing the boundary between life and death and Heathcliff's transgressing social class and family ties. THE GOTHIC AND WUTHERING HEIGHTS Whether or not Wuthering Heights should be classified as a Gothic novel (certainly it is not merley a Gothic novel). as one way women . gentle. and Flannery O'Connor has been called Southern Gothic. flight. loving. the persecuted heroine. serene. Ellen Moers identifies heroinism. (1850) Those women who overcame the limitations of their social roles and did write found it more difficult to challenge or reject society's assumptions and expectations than their male counterparts. who looked down on women writers: Women's proper sphere of activity is elsewhere [than writing]. and revenge. no braces to embroider? My idea of a perfect woman is one who can write but won't. ghosts. contemptuous sentimentalizing of women by reviewers like George Henry Lewes. no purses to make. Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre . even though no counterbalancing matriarch or matriarchal family is presented." A tendency to the macabre and bizarre which appears in writers like William Faulkner. They are found in Sir Walter Scott's novels. Heathcliff is a mysterious figure who destroys the beautiful woman he pursues and who usurps inheritances. unempowering.Elements of the Gothic have made their way into mainstream writing. and Catherine resembles Ann Radcliffe's heroines in her appreciation of nature. domestic angels. brothers. Brontë follows Walpole and Radcliffe in portraying the tyrannies of the father and the cruelties of the patriarchal family and in reconstituting the family on non-patriarchal lines. and Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights and in Romantic poetry like Samuel Coleridge's "Christabel. smug. Truman Capote. There is the hint of necrophilia in Heathcliff's viewings of Catherine's corpse and his plans to be buried next to her and a hint of incest in their being raised as brother and sister or. boundaries are trespassed. necrophilia. a mysterious foundling. Agnes.
Clearly all the Brontë sisters utilize the passionate heroine. In his discussion. girls clung to this early freedom and equality. the poverty of their physical experience may have caused these disproportions. THE ROMANTIC NOVEL Robert Kiely raises the question. and with the romantic elements in a novel. which the sisters collaborated on with their brother. the term romantic novel is often equated with the romance. (Again. These perversities may have originated in "fantasies derived from the night side of the Victorian nursery±a world where childish cruelty and childish sexuality come to the fore. played just as hard. and warfare. and scratching we dismiss as the unimportant of children's games±took on outsize proportions and powerful erotic overtones in their adult imaginations. the passionate or woman-in-love heroine. which their brothers outgrew. for it was not only sexual play but any kind of physical play for middle-class women that fell under the Victorian ban.) Moers applies this principle to the Brontës' chronicles of Angria and Gondal. whose imaginative hold Emily never outgrew. The cruelty connects this novel to the Gothic tradition. whether knowingly or not. and provided the model for Emily's impassioned Heathcliff and Catherine as well as for Charlotte's Rochester. in fact. may have provided an outlet for the sisters' imaginations. The connection was. adultery. in The Romantic Novel in England. (Literary feminism and feminism may overlap but they are not the same. Moers thinks a more accurate word than eccentricities would be perversities." Of particular importance for intellectual middle-class women who never matured sexually was the brothersister relationship. fostered their intellectual and artistic equality with their brother. incest. almost an energizing part of life and in her portrayal of the erotic in childhood. and the traveling heroine. recognized by Brontë's contemporaries. such as the intellectual or thinking heroine. In childhood. Is there actually an English romantic novel? He skirts answering his own question by suggesting that some novels are influenced by Romanticism and incorporate the same style and themes that appear in Romantic poetry and drama.) Heroinism takes many forms. imprisonment.circumvented this difficulty. passions. with the Gothic novel. the Athenaeum reviewer labeled the Gothic elements in Wuthering Heights "the eccentricities of µwoman's fantasy'" (1847). murder. and displaced them into their writing: Women writers of Gothic fantasies appear to testify that the physical teasing they received from their brothers±the pinching. revenge. which has been associated with women writers since Anne Radcliffe . sisters were the equal of their brothers. and felt the same pleasures and pains. Kiely regards Wuthering . What subversive values and taboo experiences does Emily Brontë express with her passionate heroine Catherine? Moers sees subversion in Brontë's acceptance of the cruel as a normal. mauling. and aspirations. Thus the uncensored fantasies of Angria and Gondal. and a woman writer who adopts heroinism is not necessarily a feminist. Their turbulent sagas are filled with unbridled passions. to express subversive values and taboo experiences covertly.
removing one side of her coffin. The Brontës were familiar with the writings of the major romantic poets and the novels of Sir Walter Scott. the literary movement traditionally dated 1798 to 1832 in England. an effort to resist the limits of time and of place That effort helps explain the importance of dreams and memories of other times and location. As in Gothic fiction. so that often there is a pattern of escape and pursuit. if not to reject literary conventions. becomes a "tendency of mind. and perverse sexuality are set off against social conventions and institutions. wild nature. The emphasis is on their desire for transcendence. her efforts to evade the consequences of her marriage. affected all the arts through the nineteenth century. ambition. For the protagonists. and hours co-exist with the dreamlike and the unhistorical. ultimately. and of Heathcliff±tearing open Catherine's grave. Brontë refuses to be confined by conventional classifications. stability. the demands of Heathcliff and Edgar. wanted an evaluation of her writing. yet woven on a background of delicately beautiful. for instance. it contains these romantic/Gothic elements which charterize the romantic novel: y y y y The dynamic antagonism or antithesis in the novel tends to subvert. but also and primarily a psychological concern. she sent a sample to the romantic poet Southey. of time rather than their moral transgressions." . of Catherine Linton. buildings are central to meaning. The preference for open-endedness is. When Charlotte Brontë. like poetry or drama.Heights as a model of romantic fiction. realism in presenting Yorkshire landscape and life and the historical precision of season. death originates in the imagination. and her final mental wandering. y y ROMANTICISM AND THE BRONTËS Romanticism. physical violence. the supernatural. envy. often a novel verges on turning into something else. In Wuthering Heights. The longings of a Heathcliff cannot be fulfilled in life. The romantic elements in the Brontës' writings are obvious. that he may really lie beside her in death±figures so passionate. dates. but finally Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights fuse. They yearn to escape the limitations inherent to life and may find that the only escape is death. Death is not only a literal happening or plot device. particularly in "the figures of Hareton Earnshaw. Walter Pater saw in Wuthering Heights the characteristic spirit of romanticism. The protagonists' wanderings are motivated by flight from previously-chosen goals. Endings are disquieting and unsatisfactory because the writer resists a definitive conclusion. and wealth. being typical examples of that spirit. dream and madness. The protagonists are driven by irresistible passion±lust. Initially. intellectual pride. like Catherine's delirious memories of childhood at Wuthering Heights and rambles on the moors. of society. this may create the impression that the novel is two books in one." and may develop into an obsession. curiosity. moorland scenery. one which accounts for all loose ends and explains away any ambiguities or uncertainties. Consider Catherine's marriage for social position. to overcome the limitations of the body.
Emily. 27. Edgar. stormy moods. its landscape. 18. Brontë experiments with the narrative structure (the Chinese-box structure in which Lockwood narrates what Nelly tells him. Catherine. 31. Hindley. Heathcliff. isolated. reject external restrictions and control. ROMANTIC LOVE IN WUTHERING HEIGHTS y Romantic love takes many forms in Wuthering Heights: the grand passion of Heathcliff . perhaps 37 or 38. and Anne died in the space of nine months. and seek to resolve their isolation by fusing with a love object. lack family ties. nature is a living. Heathcliff is the Byronic hero. the supernatural or the possibility of the supernatural appears repeatedly. its folklore. and wilful. misanthropic. so is Heathcliff. the passion driving Catherine and Heathcliff and their obsessive love for each other are the center of their being and transcend death. have mysterious origins. Emily. and Anne were cast in the role of Romantic Rebels. Contributing to the Romantic Rebels Myth was the association of Romanticism and early death. Linton is 17 when he dies. Hareton is the noble savage and. the concern with identity and the creation of the self are a primary concern. so great a focus is placed on the individual that society is pushed to the periphery of the action and the reader's consciousness. Byron at 36. Branwell. passionate. and Anne at 29. the taste for local color shows in the portrayal of Yorkshire. 39. Shelley having died at 29. vitalizing force and offers a refuge from the constraints of civilization.As the details of their lives became generally known and as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights received increasingly favorable critical attention. The Romantic predilection for early death appears in Wuthering Heights. ROMANTIC ELEMENTS IN WUTHERING HEIGHTS The major characteristics of Romanticism could be extrapolated from a reading of Wuthering Heights: y y y y y y y y y y y y the imagination is unleashed to explore extreme states of being and experiences. and its people. Branwell died at the age of 31. both are rebellious. Charlotte. depending on your reading of the novel. and Keats at 24. to add to the emotional impact. the love of nature is not presented just in its tranquil and smiling aspects but also appears in its wild. who repeats what others told her). Emily at 30. childhood and the adult's developing from childhood experiences are presented realistically. Isabella.
they are soul mates. In addition. with the possible exception of Hareton and Cathy." Their relationship expresses "the impersonal essence of personal existence.y y and Catherine. and movie adaptations of the novel include a Mexican and a French version. the agony of two souls±or rather. the tame indulgence of Edgar. their love has passed into popular culture." I list below a number of interpretations of their love/ostensible love. and unrelenting in its demands upon both lovers. for example. so that nothing else in the world matters. This fact explains why Catherine and Heathcliff several times describe their love in impersonal terms. called Heathcliff's feelings "perverted passion and passionate perversity. unfulfillable. and claims of others. Brontë provides the relationship of Hareton and Cathy to integrate the principle into everyday life. which is "an acceptance of identity below the level of consciousness. two people who have an affinity for each other which draws them togehter irresistibly. has become an archetype. Heathcliff repeatedly calls Catherine his soul. For C. Kate Bush and Pat Benetar both recorded "Wuthering Heights. Simone de Beauvois cites Catherine's cry. Catherine's conventional feelings for Edgar Linton and his superficial appeal contrast with her profound love for Heathcliff. it does not exist in life. feelings. the romantic infatuation of Isabella. to give oneself unreservedly to another and gain a whole self or sense of identity back. and to be loved in this way forever. what kind of love--or feeling--is Emily Brontë depicting? Her sister Charlotte. Day Lewis. but not that of the other lovers. This type of passion-love can be summed up in the phrase more--and still more . to be all-in-all for each other. and the flirtatious sexual attraction of Cathy and Hareton. are ultimately self-centered and ignore the needs." an essence which Collins calls the life-force. a principle that is not conditioned by anything but itself. This question raises another. Clifford Collins calls their love a life-force relationship. It is a principle because the relationship is of an ideal nature. "I am Heathcliff. it is the passion of Heathcliff and Catherine that most readers respond to and remember and that has made this novel one of the great love stories not merely of English literature but of European literature as well. the question of whether they really love each other has to be addressed. y y . Because such feelings cannot be fulfilled in an actual relationship." in her discussion of romantic love. and MTV showcased the lovers in a musical version. the puppy love of Cathy and Linton. Nevertheless. the coupleism of Hindley and Frances. Such a love is not necessarily fortunate or happy. for it is insatiable. the insipid sentimental languishing of Lockwood. what matters is the lovers' own feelings and needs. The love-relationship of Heathcliff and Catherine. though as in many statements of an ideal this principle has implications of a profound living significance. y y HEATHCLIFF AND CATHERINE: TRUE LOVERS? y Despite the generally accepted view that Heathcliff and Catherine are deeply in love with each other. Their love exists on a higher or spiritual plane. it expresses the passionate longing to be whole. Heathcliff and Catherine "represent the essential isolation of the soul. y Soulmates. These lovers." a song which Bush wrote. shall we say? two halves of a single soul± forever sundered and struggling to unite." y A life-force relationship.
y y y y y y y Creating meaning. ix. I should still continue to be. and is prepared to behave as if it were a fact. This need for fusion motivates Heathcliff's determination to "absorb" Catherine's corpse into his and for them to "dissolve" into each other so thoroughly that Edgar will not be able to distinguish Catherine from him. They both believe that they have their being in the other. . Are Catherine and Heathcliff rejecting the emptiness of the universe.. if all else remained. xv. tired of being enclosed here.. and including." y Love as religion. and I watched and felt each from the beginning. p. a complete and unified identity.. for the sake of this connection. Catherine again confides to Nelly her feelings about the emptiness and torment of living in this world and her belief in a fulfilling alternative: "I'm tired.. an existence of yours beyond you. and he remained. Dying. Heathdiff says late in the book. 125)... I'm wearying to escape into that glorious world. and their relationships with others by finding meaning in their relationship with each other. in the novel. "I have nearly attained my heaven. ecstatic expression. a man who is in love declares µI' and 'you' are one. and Moslems believe that they have their being in God.. Cathy's "secret" is blasphemous. Jews. death. lies in personal desire. and yearning for it through the walls of an aching heart. This use of love would explain the inexorable connection between love and death in the characters' speeches and actions. if it is possible. not seeing it dimly through tears. but really with it.surely you and everybody have a notion that there is. up to.. fusion with another will by uniting two incomplete individuals create a whole and achieve new sense of identity. p. What were the use of my creation if I were entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff's miseries. as Christians.. y Transcending isolation. my great thought in living is himself. the Universe would turn to a mighty stranger. and love. Echoing Cathy. mutilation of both social custom and the y y . and to be always there. Catherine and Heathcliff have faith in their vocation of being in love with one another.. Against all the evidence of his senses. 64). Nobody else's heaven is good enough. and that of others is altogether unvalued and uncoveted by me!" . providing a shield against the fear of death and the annihilation of personal identity or consciousness. I should not seem part of it" (Ch. Look at the mystical passion of these two: devotion to shared experience and intimacy with the other. Love has become a religion in Wuthering Heights. willingness to suffer anything. social institutions.The hope for salvation becomes a matter of eroticized private enterprise. and in it" (Ch. Their love is an attempt to break the boundaries of self and to fuse with another to transcend the inherent separateness of the human condition. Freud explained this urge as an inherent part of love: "At the height of being in love the boundary between ego and object threatens to melt away.. or should be. imaginative power. by a desperate assertion of identity based on the other? Catherine explains to Nelly: . and Emily Brontë's secret. Robert M. is the raging heresy that has become common in modern life: redemption. Polhemus sees Brontë's religion of love as individualistic and capitalistic: Wuthering Heights is filled with a religious urgency±unprecedented in British novels±to imagine a faith that might replace the old.. and. and he were annihilated. If all else perished.
"I'm wearying to escape into that glorious world. selfrighteous. After crying "Heathcliff! I only wish us never to be parted. which both unites and separates. and does the fulfillment of Heathcliff and Catherine's love after death affect the love of Hareton and Cathy in any way? Does the redemptive power of love. The desire for transcendence takes the form of crossing boundaries and rejecting conventions. p. mad and destructive as it sometimes seems. Nevertheless. is religious. the necrophilia. that has shocked readers from the novel's first publication. or in himself. relate to love-as-religion experienced by Heathcliff and Catherine? y Love as addiction.y flesh. Their calling is to be the other. which is narrow. or who are isolated and have few interests are especially vulnerable to addictions. An addictive love wants to break down the boundaries of identity and merge with the lover into one y y y . Is what Catherine and Heathcliff call love and generations of readers have accepted as Ideal Love really an addiction? Stanton Peele argues that romantic or passion love is in itself an addiction. the hints of incest and adultery. who are emotionally unstable. the usurpation of property. and that calling. That passion is a way of overcoming the threat of death and the separateness of existence. and they anticipate being reunited in love after death." Catherine goes on to say. 125). What exactly does he mean by addiction? An addiction exists when a person's attachment to a sensation. Catherine and Heatcliff are inconsistent in their attitude toward death. so that he has become increasingly dependent on that experience as his only source of gratification." a wish which necessarily involves separation (Ch. and mania for self-transcendence through the other. Is conventional religion replaced by the religion of love. an object. the literal and figurative imprisonments. Each has replaced God for the other. The abandoned church at Gimmerton is decaying. Individuals who lack direction and commitment. Catherine and Heathcliff reject Joseph's religion. xv. which is obvious in Cathy's civilizing Hareton. the ghosts of Catherine and Heathcliff±all. in other words. just as Christians anticipate being reunited with God after death. the uncontrolled passion expressed in extreme and violent ways. and punitive. the minister stops visiting Wuthering Heights because of Hindley's degeneracy. or another person is such as to lessen his appreciation of and ability to deal with other things in his environment. this is the source of the torment of being imprisoned in a body and in this life. Conventional religion is presented negatively in the novel.
" The loss of the lover. often extreme ones like illness. and faintness. the love-addict is driven by need and clings desperately to the relationship and the lover. The basis for this relationship lies in the roles society y . Catherine's affirmation "I am Heathcliff" is for de Beauvoir the cry of every woman in love. is capable of putting the needs of the beloved first. she becomes the incarnation or embodiment of the man she loves. not eating. The addict wants possession of the lover regardless of the consequences to the loved one. on the other hand. Even if the initial pleasure and sense of fulfillment or satisfaction does not last. but necessary. calls her relationship "a source of little visible delight. Lacking inner resources. love addicts look outside themselves for meaning and purpose. his double.identity. causes the addict withdrawal symptoms. a healthy love. for example. existentialist reading. the woman in love surrenders her identity for his identity and her world for his world. In her feminist. usually in people similar to themselves. I AM HEATHCLIFF How deep a chord Emily strikes with the relationship of Catherine and Heathcliff is shown by the use Simone de Beauvoir makes of it in writing of the French tradition of the grandes amoureuses or the the great female lovers. his reflection. whether through rejection or death. Catherine.
at least traditionally in France and Italy. social plane. Thus. one cannot define oneself wholly in terms of what he despises. the subject. Heathcliff. Catherine loves Heathcliff because as children of the storm they are bound by their similar natures. she is given meaning and status by her relationship to him. The male is the standard or norm. Whatever our souls are made of. of acting. Catherine's betrayal of her own nature destroys not only her but threatens Heathcliff with destruction also." As the expression of the principle of the storm. By dying." Their bond is a negative one: they identify with one another in the face of a common enemy. social self and all claims except those of their love. perhaps it would be more accurate to say. It is not enough. simply to reject a particular way of life.assigns to males and females. Catherine implies that their love is timeless and exists on some other plane than her feelings for Linton. the One. however. she relinquishes her material. becomes the Other. then Catherine is free to have a relationship with Edgar because Heathcliff's feelings and desires do not have to be taken into account. she does not really achieve or even participate in his status as subject or standard. his drive to see her corpse and his arrangements for their corpses to merge by decaying into each other. because this allows her to share in his male power and sovereignty. This is why Catherine says she loves Heathcliff "because he's more myself than I am. Because of the merging of their identities or. wants physical togetherness. he is the subject who is capable of choice. who is measured against the standard of the male. which will continue after death. they rebel against a particular way of life which both find intolerable. who is seldom the wife. if not obsessed with the image of herself "as powerfully. to find that the woman in love. neither sexual nor sensual. Is Catherine deluding herself with this speech? Louis Beverslius answers yes. She achieves happiness when the man she loves accepts her as part of his identity. She is taught to regard man as godlike and to worship him. because no man is godlike. and of affecting his destiny. The female. marrying Edgar will not affect her relationship with Heathcliff. Catherine is preoccupied. It comes as no surprise. conflict arises between unlike characters. in effect. of taking responsibility. She needs to think only of herself. If identity rather than personal relationship is the issue or the nature of their relationship. is the woman who waits. of course. hence. She remains dependent. Other. his and mine are the same. If their love exists on a spiritual or at least a non-material plane. to love him and be loved by him. she is an object to be acted upon by man. she is ultimately disappointed but refuses to acknowledge his fallibility. attracted to Heathcliff. their love is. In Lord David Cecil's view. dependent on him. then she is presumably free to act as she pleases in the material. because no man can give her either his ability to act and choose or the character to accept responsibility for those actions and choices. then. which are conventionally romantic. in contrast. One must carve out for oneself an alternative which is more than a systematic y y y y y . even irresistibly. because of their intense desire to merge and refusal to accept their literal separateness. the goal of her existence is to be associated with him. In reality. and the deepest attachments are based on characters' similarity or affinity as expressions of the same spiritual principle.
she sees his avarice and vengefulness.repudiation of what he hates. The chief contrast between Catherine and Heathcliff consists in the fact that he is able to make such a commitment (together with everything it entails) while she is not. Catherine initially seems unconcerned and later goes off to be with Heathcliff. It requires only time for this radical dissimilarity to become explicit. and take him with me±he's in my soul. suggests that total affinity does not exist and that complete mergining of two identities is impossible. never mind! That is not my Heathcliff. It is with the false image that she has an affinity: Oh. with the Lintons and oscillates between identifying with them and with Heathcliff. "the object of a competitive struggle between two men. Catherine both knows Heathacliff and does not know him. each of whom wants her to conform to his own version of her"? . A positive commitment is also necessary. whatever their temporary 'affinities' appear to be. When Heathcliff throws hot applesauce at Edgar and is banished. but believes that he will not injure Isabella because she warned him off. Their dissimilarities appear when she allies herself. Her rebelliousness changes from the open defiance of throwing books into the kennel to covert silence and a double character. to keep me out of hte grave! That is how I'm loved! Well. Catherine's mistaken belief that she and Heathcliff still share an affinity moves her to distinguish in their last conversation between the real Hathcliff whom she is struggling with and the image of Heathcliff which she has held since childhood. But is it possible that she is using Heathcliff as a symbol of their childhood. this marks them as radically dissimilar from one another. I shall love mine yet. you see."? Does Catherine become. The fact that to maintain the fiction of their affinity Catherine has to create two Heathcliffs. Catherine's assertion that Heathcliff is "more myself than I am" is generally read as an expression of elemental passion. in the words of Lyn Pykett. however sporadically. when she was "half savage. an inner and an outer one. Nelly! He would not relent a moment. and hardy and free. when the full measure of their characters has been taken. when she had freedom of movement and none of the responsibilities and pressure of adulthood. y y Catherine is similarly deluded about her childhood and has painted a false picture of the freedom of Wuthering Heights. And.
Catherine and Hindley. Nelly is a part of it. also known as Ellen. but can readers really trust everything she says? Nelly¶s Involvement in Events As well as witnessing the characters and story she tells. Similarly. Nelly¶s Errors of Judgement Nelly is not infallible. . and allows him to visit her against Edgar¶s wishes. so that the child is able to sneak away and visit Wuthering Heights. her residual feelings of fondness and of family duty cause her to be more lenient towards them than their behaviour sometimes deserves. Similarly. When Lockwood becomes ill and wishes to learn about the history of his landlord. after all. How far can we trust her version of events? The Character of Nelly Nelly Dean. Having grown up with Heathcliff. Nelly¶s Bias As someone closely involved in the story. and hides information from other characters. but has spent much of her life living and working at Wuthering Heights. At the start of the novel she is working as the housekeeper at Thrushcross Grange. it is natural that she should remain fond of the children she has been instrumental in bringing up: she looked after Hareton for the first years of his life. She is also tricked by Heathcliff when she and Cathy travel to Wuthering Heights together. Heathcliff. Nelly doesn¶t always do as she is told. and frequently refers to Cathy. She fails to tell Edgar ± her master. She plays a crucial role in delivering a letter from Heathcliff to Catherine upon his return. This would seem to make her an ideal narrator. is the principal narrator of Wuthering Heights. deceived into allowing the two of them to enter the house where they are then kept prisoner until Cathy has been forced to marry Linton. Nelly¶s account is inevitably coloured by her own opinions about the characters. and eventually telling Edgar of their relationship.The Character of Nelly Emily Bronte chose Nelly Dean as the main narrator of her novel Wuthering Heights. how ill his wife Catherine has become. and also neglects to inform him about Cathy and Linton¶s growing relationship until it is well advanced. and has therefore witnessed first-hand much of the story she tells. She doesn¶t keep a close enough eye on Cathy. and her actions often affect events. carrying letters between Linton and Cathy. She is prone to interference. it is Nelly who relates the tale.
they would perhaps be best advised to take it with a pinch of salt. Read on y y y Wuthering Heights: Nelly Dean Carlisle Floyd Opera Wuthering Heights Bernard Herrmann Opera Wuthering Heights Nelly Dean is Lockwood's housekeeper.com/content/wuthering-heights-nelly-dean-a58698#ixzz16SaADkIa Narrative Structure Much of the dramatic power of the novel lies in the use of a dual narrative. this abruptness can be seen in a new light when juxtaposed with the cruelty he has . an outsider who rents Thrushcross Grange from Heathcliff. the novel's second narrator. and is entreated by him to relate the histories of the individuals he has just encountered at Wuthering Heights. The main narrator is Lockwood. as her ³angel´ ± although her behaviour often suggests she is anything but! Read on y y y Characters in Wuthering Heights Bronte's Wuthering Heights Revision Guide to Wuthering Heights Nelly is just as quick to show her disapproval of those characters she dislikes: Linton Heathcliff merits particular scorn ± ³the worst-tempered bit of a sickly slip that ever struggled into his teens´ (chapter 23). So while readers may enjoy Nelly¶s lively and gossipy narrative style. but also allows Bronte to contrast the past and the present.suite101. giving the reader a personal yet flawed account of the Earnshaws and the Lintons.whom she has acted as a mother towards for all of the child¶s life. Read more at Suite101: Wuthering Heights: Nelly Dean: How Reliable is Nelly¶s Narration? http://www. Nelly is heavily involved in events she describes. This framework not only provides the reader with two differing perspectives on events. his reactions to Heathcliff's rudeness and Hareton's surliness provides the reader with a more objective viewpoint than that provided by Ellen Dean. Whilst the reader may find Heathcliff rude and ill-mannered. as she finds herself locked up safely out the way while it is taking place. Nelly is unable to tell us of his marriage to Cathy.
suite101.undergone as a child. Similarly. Hareton's ignorance is gradually explained by his role in Heathcliff's plan to exact revenge on Hindley. Read more at Suite101: Revision Guide to Wuthering Heights: How to Study Emily Bronte's Tale of Cathy and Heathcliff http://www.com/content/revision-guide-to-wutheringheights-a115763#ixzz16SakllXT .