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‘The Gothic Elements Of Wuthering Heights Are Made Credible By The Novel’s Setting And Narrators.’ How Far Would You Agree With This View?

2187 words - 9 pages

‘The Gothic elements of Wuthering Heights are made credible by the novel’s setting and narrators.’
How far would you agree with this view?
Wuthering Heights is Emily Bronte’s only novel and was published in December 1847 under the androgynous pseudonym Ellis Bell, due to having a, “vague impression that authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice”. This initial perception demonstrates the lack of gender equality within the Victorian era, with autocratic male dominance being commonly viewed as an ideal within the restrictive patriarchal society; such varying social conventions resonate throughout the novel, perhaps providing a sense of stability, reality and authenticity among the ...view middle of the document...

However, the relationship between the internal, domestic dwelling and the external engulfing forces is strongly established as he analyses, “Wuthering” to be, “a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmosphere tumult to which the station is exposed”. It can be expressed that the inhabitants of Heights are not only physically “exposed” to the surrounding moorland, but are engaged with the tyrannical, uncultivated nature on a psychological, deeply emotional level which provides a striking contract to the civilised existence at Thrushcross Grange.
This dichotomy between nature and culture can be seen through the fact that while Wuthering Heights is enveloped in “thorns”, Thrushcross Grange is adorned with, “flowerpots”. Such conflicting imagery holds connotations to the juxtaposition of light and dark, and can therefore be seen to link to the metaphorical use of chiaroscuro lighting within many classical and revived gothic works to symbolise incongruity – ultimately supporting the Gothic element.
Furthering the incorporation of dynamic opposition and extremities, Lord David Cecil famously expressed how all elements are animated by a separate spiritual principle; this may be the principle of the storm, which is ruthless and dynamic, ultimately linking to nature or the principle of calm, which was passive and tame, representing ideal civilisation.

“The world of our experience is … full of discord because in the cramped condition of their earthly incarnation these principles are diverted from following the course that their nature dictates, and get in each other's way. They are changed from positive into negative forces; the calm becomes a source of weakness, not of harmony, in the natural scheme, the storm a source not of fruitful vigour, but of disturbance.
While Wuthering Heights is expressed to be governed by the principle of the Storm, and Thrushcross Grange being subdued by Calm, negativity was not apparent between the two principles until Mr Earnshaw brought Heathcliff into their cosmos. Many have expressed that he represents an outside energy, an “other” as stated by Dorothy Van Ghent, which ultimately causes an accentuation of the Storm principle and a subsequent rejection of all civilized traits, instigating the rise in conflict between the two symbolic entities. Nelly initially stated how "from the very beginning, [Heathcliff] bred bad feeling in the house", with terms such as "wicked boy," "villain," and "imp of Satan" being recalled within her somewhat trusted narration, with reasoned suspicion arising due to his obscure background and barbarous ways. The importance of past events and the unknown directly link the construct of Heathcliff to the Gothic genre, which is furthered through his want of dominance, desire for individual freedom and uncouth determination, providing affirmatives with the Gothic Hero-Villain, such as Montoni in Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udlpho or Ambrosio in Matthew Lewis’s The Monk....

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