Would You Agree with the View That in Wuthering Heights Essay
Would you agree with the view that in Wuthering Heights, Bronte combines realism and gothic symbolism to create a romance novel of social relevance? Discuss. Although Wuthering Heights received neither critical praise nor any local popularity during its initial publication, the reading public has changed substantially since 1847, and now both critical and popular opinion praise Emily Bronte’s singular work of fiction. Victorian society would not accept the violent characters and harsh realities of Wuthering Heights, but subsequent audiences are both more understanding and accepting of the use of unsavory aspects of human life in literature.
This essay will focus on how Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, combine realism and gothic symbolism to form a romance novel that is of social relevance. The self-destructive journey of Heathcliff as he seeks revenge for losing his soul mate, Catherine, to Edgar Linton and Bronte’s discussion of themes such as good versus evil, chaos and order, selfishness, betrayal, and obsession intertwine as the story unfolds presenting its social relevance.
The isolated setting is important for Bronte’s combination of realism and gothic symbolism. Connecting Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange serve a dual purpose linking the two households while simultaneously separating them from the village and all others. Bronte took conventions of the time and instead of merely recreating them in a work of her own, used them as a springboard to write an entirely original tale, creating characters that are simultaneously real and symbolic archetypes. (Graham,50).
Regional descriptive detail accumulates to realistically particularize the time, place, culture of the setting. Despite incursions of irrational excess in some characters and purported super-natural elements, the plot and conflicts of the novel advance by plausibly logical chain of cause-effect events traceable to characters’ natures, choices and decisions, interactions, and their consequences Furthermore the portrayal of women, society, and class bear witness to a time that’s foreign to contemporary readers.
However though the society is different today than it was two centuries ago, people remain the same, and contemporary readers can still relate to the feelings and emotions of the central characters, Heathcliff and Catherine, as well as those of the supporting characters, because Bronte’s characters are real, they are human subjects with human emotions. Therefore, Wuthering Heights is not just a sentimental romance novel. It is a presentation of life, an essay on love, and a glimpse at relationships.
Bronte has featured realistic elements in her differenciation of the middle and lower class portraying characters such as Linton and Heathcliff. Featuring Wuthering Heights as a social novel, Bronte illustrates how class mobility is not always moving in one direction. For Catherine, representing a lower class, social class plays a major role when deciding to get married. That is why she cannot marry Heathcliff and agrees, instead, to marry Edgar. ‘It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him; and that, not because he’s handsome, Nelly, but because he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same, and Edgar’s is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire. ” (Wuthering Heights) For Isabella, however, just the opposite is true. She is drawn to the wild, mysterious man, regardless of the fact that he is beneath her social standing. As a result of her infatuation, she loses everything that is dear to her.
Readers must therefore look not only to social class when judging and analyzing characters; they must determine what decisions are made by members of a certain class and why these characters made the decisions relating it to the modern society. Bronte also focuses on “Domestic”relationships, conflicts and socio-economic factors that characterize and affect ordinary human life, dealing with issues such as birth, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, death; family relations, love, courtship & marriage; money, class, social status and security which are relevant to all times.
The use of the Narrative Frame structure of Double Narrators (Lockwood & Nelly Dean) by Bronte to make the novel realistic is another important feature. (R. S. Sharma, 38). Authenticating narrative frame structure helps monitoring readers “suspend disbelief” by providing a plausible scenario for the telling of the Wuthering Heights story. Curious Lockwood entreats Dean to relate the story while we unacknowledged readers are implicitly enabled to listen in.
Main participant-narrator Nelly Dean helps make this “strange story” believable, because she has been a direct witness to many of the scenes in the story she relates; and her character is conventional, down-to earth, and ruled by common sense. Wuthering Heights has also portrayed the elements of a Gothic novel to feature social issues. The characters are more complex than average Gothic protagonists and antagonists. Heathcliff’s motivations and responses go beyond the flat character of the average Gothic villain. Catherine is far from the vulnerable, threatened maiden in need of rescuing.
And instead of a ruined, crumbling castle, we have Wuthering Heights. Bronte provokes a greater consideration of morality than the usual action-driven Gothic novel making it a novel of social relevance. Wuthering Heights has plenty of spooky Gothic qualities, like imprisonment, dark stairways, stormy weather, nightmares, extreme landscapes, melancholy figures, moonlight and candles, torture and excessive cruelty, necrophilia, a supernatural presence, maniacal behavior, and communication between the living and the dead.
In the Gothic tradition, Bronte features tyrannical fathers and a troubled family line. In this case, the threat comes from Heathcliff, the outsider, who causes havoc by usurping the family line and taking all of its property. Some of the darkest themes of the Gothic novel emerge with the implications of incest through the romantic love of Heathcliff and Catherine, and the suggestion of necrophilia through Heathcliff’s perverse interactions with Catherine’s corpse. (Harold Bloom, 56) . “I got the sexton, who was digging Linton’s grave, to remove the earth off her coffin lid, and I opened it.
I thought, once, I would have stayed there, when I saw her face again—it is hers yet—he had hard work to stir me; but he said it would change, if the air blew on it, and so I struck one side of the coffin loose, and covered it up—not Linton’s side, damn him! I wish he’d been soldered in lead—and I bribed the sexton to pull it away, when I’m laid there, and slide mine out too. I’ll have it made so, and then, by the time Linton gets to us, he’ll not know which is which! ” (Wuthering Heights) The Gothic genre often reveals larger societal anxieties.
In Wuthering Heights, it may help to reveal contemporary fears about a foreign presence in the house, threats to patrimony, or an influx of immigration in the form of the so-called “gypsy. Bronte successfully combines these realism and gothic symbols to form a romance novel that is of social relevance. The love between Heathcliff and Catherine transcends the boundaries between life and death. While several marriages and sub-romances occur, the one between the two protagonists is far and away the most dramatic and memorable. All the characters are driven by their appetites – desire, passion, lust, and ambition.
The plotline is propelled toward the reunion of the two lovers, so that when Catherine dies halfway through the book, the reader really wants to know how the romantic story will be resolved. The novel teases the reader with the possibility that Heathcliff is something other than what he seems—that his cruelty is merely an expression of his frustrated love for Catherine, or that his sinister behaviors serve to conceal the heart of a romantic hero. We expect Heathcliff’s character to contain such a hidden virtue because he resembles a hero in a romance novel.
Traditionally, romance novel heroes appear dangerous, brooding, and cold at first, only later to emerge as fiercely devoted and loving. One hundred years before Emily Bronte wrote Wuthering Heights, the notion that “a reformed rake makes the best husband” was already a cliche of romantic literature, and romance novels center around the same cliche to this day. In today’s modern society events and dilemmas such as those portrayed in Wuthering Heights do still occur. People marry into wealth and power, not out of love.
This novel depicts events that will always have relevance to our society, money will always have significance, and how we stand in the social circle will always matter. There are modern day Catherine Earnshaws’, Edgar Lintons’ and Heathcliffs’ everywhere. Our society is gripped by the powerful hand of greed, wealth and power has governed the way we as people live and even how we as people love. Bronte’s Wuthering Heights portrays this magnificently. For there have always been and will always be an insecure Catherine Earnshaw, a condescending Edgar Linton and a passionate Heathcliff in every single one of us. Thus Emily Bronte’s in-depth novel can be considered a Gothic and realistic romance novel focussing on human relationships and important social implications making it a novel of social relevance.
Bibliography Bloom,Harold. Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Bloom’s modern critical interpretations. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2007. Bronte,Emily. Wuthering Heights. Thomas C. Newby 1847. Holderness,Graham. Wuthering Heights, Open Guides to Literature. California: The University of California,2008. Sharma,R. S. “Wuthering Heights”: A Commentary. Atlantic Publishers & Dist, 1994.