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Wuthering Heights as a Classic , Frank Kermode

In Kermode s essay Wuthering Heights as a Classic , we find several references to literary theories. One of these theories is that of Foucault, which he develops in his essay What is an author? Foucault argues that there is always a more powerful discourse which changes through time. This discourse takes over institutions as well as other spheres of life. This discourse will influence the way we analyze texts as well as what texts we consider to be classics and what authors write texts that should be considered classics. When a text is secularized, we are forced to recognize its plurality. The classic [ ] has been secularised by a process which inevitably recognises its status as literary text; and that process inevitably pluralised it, or rather forced us to recognise its inherent plurality. There is also a reference to Barthes essay The Death of the Author , in which he argues that once the author finishes a work of art, he is not meaningful to the text anymore. He claims that we should analyse language instead of the voice. In a way, he is against biographical analyses of works and he gives importance to reader-oriented theories, which are based on the belief that texts possess no fixed or final meaning. Besides, the meaning of a work of art is opened if we don t consider the author s influence in it. «[ ] the reader s share in the novel is not so much a matter of knowing [ ] what Emily Brontë really meant [ ] as of responding creatively to indeterminacies of meaning inherent in the text and possibly enlarged by the action of time. When we say that the writer speaks more than he knows [ ] we mean [ ] that the text is under the absolute control of no thinking subject, ot that it is not a message from one mind to another.» We can also trace a reference to Levi-Strauss and his theory of the myth. He believes that myths consist of elements that oppose/ contradict each other and elements that mediate/ resolve those oppositions. I will refer to this later on in the talk. Kermode uses all these theories to support the idea of what a classic is. He believes that classics have a plurality of signifiers and interpetations because there is a certain degree of indeterminacy in them. Besides, he states that meaning is opened as time goes by partly because the ways of completing indeterminacies change. Therefore, Wuthering Heights is a classic because the author invites the reader to collaborate and supply meaning where the text is indeterminate. Kermode refers to a couple of indeterminacies which make the text a classic. It is important to take into account that his interpretation depends on the ways of decoding texts that correspond to the period he lives in. One of such indeterminacies is the inscription above the door: 1500 HaretonEarnshaw. This inscription functions as a hermeneutic code: it promises an explanation and, at the same time, it arouses expectations and our power of perception and interpretation. Another indeterminate element is the inscriptions examined by Lockwood. Catherine Earnshaw Catherine Heathcliff Catherine Linton

Wuthering Heights

Thrushcross Grange

so there is a sort of circularity in the novel. He argues that the mixture of opposites creates a need for a mediator. It is important to take into account that all movement must be through Heathcliff.The mediator is needed to resolve the oppositions  HEATHCLIFF: Mediator. able to supply meanings and complete the text) The dreams also give indeterminacy to the text because there are multiple readings.: The preacher hits the pulpit= The fir hits the window st culture-nature domestic-savage Grange-Heights y     Christian name+surname: indicates he is different SETTING Wuthering Heights=North=harsh Gimmerton=East=in between. Heathcliff is the DOOR though which Earnshaw passes into Linton and out again to Earnshaw.g. e. which refers to Shakespearian witchcraft. Kermode also refers to this as betweenness . The second reading is reinforced by the appearance of a cat downstairs. The names Catherine and Earnshaw begin and end the narrative. rough civility of the market Thrushcross Grange=South=soft . which is a concept to which Levi-Strauss also refers to. Besides. which Kermode says functions a door. Kermode claims that the second dream has two possible interpretations: either the hand that appeared in the window was something Lockwood dreamt or it was no dream at all and it was a real hand.The three names reflect the isolation of the society under consideration. Kermode argues that the purpose of these dreams in the novel is to function as a Gothic element and to make the reader something to think about: Why is Catherine s surname Linton? 1 dream   The reference to the 7 deadly sins may be interpreted as a punishment for having left his home There is oneiric ambiguity but the dream stays close to the narrative line to convey meaning.the civility of the reader (educated family. used to novel reading. there is movement away from Earnshaw (mother) and back to him (daughter). in between: master-servant rich-poor brother-lover  CHAIN OF NARRATORS: mediate between: the barbarism of the story.