The Love Between Heathcliff and Catherine
Love is considered ordinate when two individuals have deep affections and respect for one another. In Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw have deep and sincere love for each other. They spent most of their childhood with one another. The love that Heathcliff and Catherine experience is pure and true. They both contributed different yet special things towards their distinctive relationship. The trust and affection between them would have made the greatest love one has ever seen.
Heathcliff and Catherine’s love would be ordinate is because although they grew up together, they were not siblings.
It took Catherine time to get used to Heathcliff and consider him her friend; she did consider Heathcliff to be her brother. When Mr. Earnshaw brought Heathcliff home from Liverpool, Catherine didn’t immediately like him. When Catherine first saw Heathcliff, she welcomed him by, “grinning and spiting at the stupid little thing,” (251). Catherine’s friendly love and appreciation for Heathcliff came with time.
They could be compared to two friends who grew up together and share a non-sexual love. There is nothing about their love that is incestuous or wrong.
If Catherine loved Heathcliff sexually, then their love would be inordinate. The love that Catherine feels for Heathcliff is not carnal love. Catherine believes that she loves Heathcliff not because she is physically attracted to him, but because she is emotionally attracted to him. After Edgar Linton asks Catherine to marry him, she tells Nelly, “Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am a pleasure to myself, but as my own being…” (291) Catherine clearly states her feelings toward Heathcliff and their relationship. She feels that she is Heathcliff, meaning that without being physically one, they will still be one essence for eternity.
By the early middle of the novel, Catherine chooses to marry Edgar Linton instead of Heathcliff. After being bitten by the dog in the end of chapter VI and spending five weeks at Thrushcross Grange, Catherine became a Victorian woman. She realized what is considered upper class by society and the fact that Edgar Linton fit perfectly into that position. Heathcliff, on the other hand, was the complete opposite of what Edgar Linton represented. The reason Catherine gives for her decision to marry Edgar, is on the other end of the spectrum. She told Nelly that, “…if Heathcliff and I married, we should be beggars? Whereas, if I marry Linton, I can aid Heathcliff to rise, and place him out of my brother’s power.”(290) Catherine marries Edgar Linton to help Heathcliff escape from Hindley Earnshaw’s wrath. This reason makes Catherine seem selfless and protective towards Heathcliff.
The love story between Heathcliff and Catherine is a very powerful one. A major point of argument in this novel is whether or not their love is ordinate or inordinate. There is no reason for their love to be inordinate, since they are not wrong in loving each other. Heathcliff and Catherine are one and the same. They experience pain and happiness because of one another. There is no difference between these two lovers and other lovers in the world, except for the fact that their love story is a tragedy.
The Gothic Elements of Wuthering Heights
How far would you agree with this view? Some would argue that the novel’s setting is particularly important in establishing the novels Gothic elements, in particular relations between past and present, the medieval and modernity. The contrast between the two houses, Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange, for instance, which has been seen as carrying such metaphysical significance, is not left a generalised level, but is grounded in specific details which reveal the time, place, and class of their opponents.
The house at Wuthering Heights is a functional place, marked by dogs, guns and oatcakes which are part of a feudal agricultural economy, while Thrushcross Grange is a place of leisure, distinctly Victorian aristocratic, characterised by products of other people’s labour – carpets, chandeliers, sweet cakes, and lap dogs.
It is therefore possible to extract historical opposition between these two settings, with the Earnshaws, the yeomen farmers who work of the land, being replaced by the genteel way of the Lintons who live of their rents.
This relationship with the past, which is juxtaposed with the ‘new’ world of Victorian decadence, is an important element of the Gothic which is brought to life by Bronte’s description of these different abodes and their occupants.
The novels narrators too, it could be argued, add credibility to the Gothic elements of horror and in particular the uncanny. As a modern, civilised narrator the character of Lockwood appears genuinely affected by his experiences in the heights. The first three chapters, in which he relies on his own observation, are a catalogue of mistakes, and we watch him move from a confident detachment to the bewilderment of a Gothic victim. When Lockwood enters Wuthering Heights he tries to interpret what he sees but none of the signs prove readable. The ‘cats’ are dead rabbits, the dogs ‘four footed fiends’; Heathcliff is equally well described as ‘gypsy’ and ‘gentleman’; Hareton can be fitted into a category either as servant or master; Catherine does not seem to ‘belong’ to anybody and does not perform as a hostess should.
His experiences in the ‘Gothic Chamber’ are a continuation of those in the realist interior. It is not clear for instance, whether Catherine’s names, scratched on the window sill, are three names of one person or one name for three people; the confusion of singleness and multiplicity intensifies Lockwood’s disorientation until the letter s become uncanny, ‘ a glare of white letters, as vivid as spectres – the air swarmed with Catherines.’ The ‘intense horror of nightmare’ takes hold of him and he is shocked into one of the most violent acts of the novel; as Catherines child-ghost clings to him he rubs her wrists on the broken windowpane ’till the blood ran down and soaked the bedclothes.’
This is not behaviour we would associate with the civilised man and so this adds credibility to Lockwood’s experiences. Although Nelly is better informed her narrative does not dispel the uncanny instability of Lockwood’s initial experiences. The geographical fixity of the novel, combined with its flash-back time structure, means that the past scenes which Nelly describes are superimposed on the scenes which we have already witnessed, in the very rooms which Lockwood had already described or where they now sit together. This doubleness is compounded by the fact that not only places, but names, survive the passing of generations, to be inhabited by later occupants. The name Hareton Earnshaw’ in the inscription is now ‘occupied’ by another Hareton Earnshaw, just as Catherine leaves her name to be occupied by her daughter. The result of this duplication inherent in Nelly’s narrative is also uncanny, since we expect people to have single identities which persist through time.
The key Gothic themes of violence and revenge are for some critics made more implicit than explicit by the novels narrative structure. Rather than watching straight action the reader must piece together the violent struggle between the characters from fragments of events given to them by Nelly, Lockwood and others and the consequences which are described by the victims of these assaults, for instance Isabella’s account of her relationship with Heathcliff.
This second hand action is significantly less credible than watching the events first hand and raises questions of the narrator’s legitimacy. Indeed stage versions of the novel often omit the narrators in favour of more dramatic depictions of scenes; the Olivier film has Nelly but not Lockwood ; and in the Kosminsky film the story is told by the author, Emily Bronte in person. Academic critics, whilst recognising the importance of the narrators, still disagree fiercely about their significance.
In following this argument one could easily pick apart the inherent assumption in the view above; that it is solely the novels setting and narration that adds to the Gothic experience. Indeed perhaps the most memorable feature in novels which, by modern critics, are widely thought to contain something of the Gothic, is the writer’s use of characterisation, his creation of the Gothic protagonist.
The central character in Gothic stories is often an embodiment of the key elements that the Gothic itself seeks to address. Forbidden knowledge/power is often the Gothic protagonist’s central goal which is linked with the Gothic motifs of repressed sexualities and the taboo. The Gothic “hero” questions the universe’s ambiguous nature and tries to comprehend and control those supernatural powers that mortals cannot understand. He tries to overcome human limitations and make himself into a “god”. Think Milton’s Satan. This ambition usually leads to the hero’s “fall” or destruction; however, Gothic tales of ambition sometimes paradoxically evoke our admiration because they picture individuals with the courage to defy fate and cosmic forces in an attempt to transcend the mundane to the eternal and sublime.
Consider again Faustus’ quest for supernatural power and Frankenstein’s quest for the secret of life. In this view, some critics have sought to make a comparison between this doomed quest and Cathy’s idealised view of ‘free love’ in the novel. Her belief in her ‘oneness’ with Heathcliff makes her confident that he will not just understand her relationship with Edgar but ‘comprehend (it) in his person – that is, incorporate it into himself. This dream cannot be realised however because her menfolk persist in what Carol Gilligan calls the masculine ‘ethic of justice’. Edgar maintains the language of ‘propriety’ (i.e. ownership) and Heathcliff the language of revenge (i.e. expropriation) and ultimately Cathy’s quest for mutual understanding ends in violence and death.
While the setting, narration and narrative structure does indeed credibility to the Gothic elements; namely a sense of the uncanny horror and the an innate fascination with the past, these are not the only factors in the vivid sense of the Gothic in Wuthering Heights. In particular the novels characterisation is important for setting up the themes of taboo and sexual demarcation as well as setting up the novels dismal destination.
Wuthering Heights characters
One of the primary ways in which we might judge a novel is whether or not we care sufficiently enough for its characters. In Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte offers us an intriguing array of characters and narrators. There are two principal narrators in this novel which throws into question the authority of the narrator. The conventional narrator confers upon the novel something of an authenticity of a spoken narrative. The presence of the narrator is comforting, since the narrator is by virtue of his or her role, a survivor: the narrator must survive to tell the retrospective tale.
The narrator has an authority, which is made even more dramatic in nineteenth-century fiction on account of the fact that nearly all narrators are male. It is doubly significant therefore that Bronte chooses two narrators, one male and one female, and that the narrative of Nelly Dean outranks and dispossesses that of Lockwood, the male narrator. Able to read ‘between the lines’ of Nelly and Lockwood’s narrative, the reader is able to interpret information from the text which is never made explicit.
In distinguishing between ‘reliable’ and ‘unreliable’ accounts the reader is able to construct a body of knowledge from which to make judgements about the text and the characters. Equally tantalisingly, Bronte plays with our expectations of characters as discreet and coherent individuals. They extend their influence beyond the grave; they share each others names and moods and they exemplify all manner of contradictions. It is conventional to consider characterisation in terms of identity: what characterises this person?
How can they be identified? One of the key elements of identity might be thought to be the name, yet Wuthering Heights is a novel in which there scarcely seems enough names to go round. There is a constant doubling of names which repetitiously trace each other through the three generations of the novel. Catherine The reader’s first introduction to Catherine Earnshaw is an introduction to the signature of a ghost; her name is scratched upon the window-ledge in her childhood bedroom, the room where Lockwood will have his disturbing nightmares.
At the end of the novel, Heathcliff is tormented by everything which signals to him his loss of Catherine, she is as elusive and forbidden to him as she is incomprehensible to Lockwood. Thus the characterisation of Catherine starts and ends in an enigma: the world of the novel is testament to her character, but it is testament to a character that can leave only ghostly signs of itself behind. The names which Lockwood finds inscribed upon the window – Catherine Earnshaw, Catherine Linton, Catherine Heathcliff – can be read as indicative of Catherine’s fractured or fragmented social identity.
Catherine struggles with conflicting options for selfhood as she tries to combine two lives: the life of passion fully experienced, and the life of social convention that secures her to either her father or her husband. Her assertion to Nelly Dean ‘I am Heathcliff’ is both dramatic and memorable, but it cannot stabilise her identity since Heathcliff is too enigmatic and uncertain. The conflict that disturbs Catherine’s sense of self is played out in the novel through the themes of culture versus nature. In choosing to marry Edgar, Catherine chooses culture over nature.
This is directly contrasted with a narrative insistence upon her love and oneness with nature. From Catherine’s perspective, nature does not need to be named, and it does not lend itself to narrative representation and culture. If we accept this reading, then Catherine’s choice of Edgar over Heathcliff cannot be expected to be successful. It is, however, in character, for Nelly Dean’s first introduction of Catherine is as ‘mischievous and wayward’, thus we can expect her to make unpredictable and surprising choices.
Capable of great love and fidelity, Catherine is nevertheless also capable of ruthless destruction; even if that entails her death and wretched misery for those she loves. Heathcliff Heathcliff is described by Catherine as an ‘unreclaimed creature’. His mysterious capacity for self-invention which defies the conventional categories of characterisation in the novel renders him profoundly difficult to read for most of the other characters. Unlike every other name in the novel, Heathcliff has the only singular name, which serves him both as Christian and surname.
This places him radically outside social patterns and conventions. Heathcliff belongs first nowhere and last anywhere. The fact that he inherits his name from a dead son also signals the potential for free play and invention, since this name might then be thought of as that of a ghost: a character who is no longer present. Heathcliff is often seen as a Byronic hero: powerful, attractive, melancholy and brutal. Through most of the first volume of the novel Heathcliff’s rise to power details most of the ascension of the romantic hero, with his intrusion into and transformation of a conventional and socially limited world.
However, by making such romantic convention manifest in an energetic new form, Heathcliff actually cancels out romantic possibilities and reduces that system to mere superstition. As a foundling, Heathcliff is introduced into the close-knit family structure as an outsider; he is perceived as both gift and threat and these contesting identifications form part of the compelling undecidability of his character. Contradiction typifies Heathcliff, to Catherine he is brother and lover; to Isabella he is romantic hero and pitiless oppressor; he epitomises potency, yet he fathers an exceptionally frail child.
He encompasses vast philosophical opposites: love and death, culture and nature, evil and heroism. Heathcliff can be read as vampiric and there is evidence of his bloodthirstiness. He disturbs the conventional structure of the novel, and the world created within it. Edgar Edgar represents the world of conventional morality to which Heathcliff is the antithesis. Edgar’s world is an interior world, and we first peep in on him as a child, poetically pictured by Heathcliff for Nelly Dean.
In the midst of his sumptuous environment, the description of which sits so comfortably in Heathcliff’s mouth, stands Edgar weeping by the fire and Heathcliff despises him for his pettiness. The descriptions of Edgar as ‘a doll’, a ‘spoiled child’, a ‘ soft thing’, and a ‘lamb who threatens like a bull’ establish Edgar as artificial in contrast to the elemental description afforded to Heathcliff and Catherine. And yet although there is no way that Edgar can satisfy Catherine, he nevertheless loves her in a conventional way as his wife, and when she is ill, he tends to her devotedly.
It is rather a common place of criticism to read Edgar as effeminate in contrast to the savage masculinity of Heathcliff. Edgar’s masculinity is his social power. He legitimately inherits Thrushcross grange; his books and his library establish him as a man of letters and therefore of influence. Nelly’s constant reference to Edgar as ‘the master’ reveals her opinion of him as someone with social power. Heathcliff on the other hand is a cuckoo with no established parentage or inheritance. His lack of formal education places him in an inferior social position.
Edgar Linton is described as lacking spirit and this can be read in two ways. Conventionally, he does lack the vigour that characterises Catherine and Heathcliff. However, he also lacks their ghostliness, the spectral quality which sets them apart and lends them mystery. He is not troubled by internal contradiction, and he remains in his place throughout the novel, living at Thrushcross Grange as boy and man, and finally resting in his grave alongside the body of his wife. Isabella As Edgar’s sister, Isabella’s characterisation is closely associated with his.
Indeed, she is only ever seen in relation to other characters. Isabella’s infatuation for Heathcliff, which structurally parallels Edgar’s fascination with Catherine, fails to develop into a mature and unselfish love. Isabella’s infatuation with Heathcliff is as a direct result of her cultural life: she can only read Heathcliff as a romantic hero and she never entirely abandons her fantasy of Heathcliff as the Byronic lover even when it is clear that his spontaneous love of Catherine has transformed itself into a determined lust for revenge, for which Isabella is only a cipher or vehicle.
Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights
Who or what does Heathcliff represent in Wuthering Heights? Is he a force of evil or a victim of it and how important is the role of class in the novel, particularly as it relates to Heathcliff and his life?
The ‘moral ambiguity, glamour and degradation that is Heathcliff’ (same as below) forms the ultimate focus for the novel Wuthering Heights, beginning as Heathcliff is brought into the Earnshaw family, with his evil machinations completely driving the story and his death marking the conclusion of the novel.
Throughout Bronte’s work he is portrayed as a strong figure who remains mysterious, magnetic and charismatic, keeping countless readers engaged throughout centuries through the desire to understand both Heathcliff’s character and his motivations. Tortured, brooding, passionate and dark, Heathcliff is undoubtedly the embodiment of the Byronic hero, i.e. a self-destructive anti-hero who is isolated from society, much like Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre or, more recently, Edward Cullen from the Twilight series.
While his actions throughout the novel are neither likeable, nor condonable, they are driven by passion, an emotion synonymous with a typical literary hero and this, alongside his torturous love for Cathy, means that readers cannot help but feel empathy for him, bringing them closer to Heathcliff than any other character in the novel. Wuthering Heights provoked a good deal of anxiety when published, most of which was caused by the character of Heathcliff. The Examiner felt outraged by the mixture of affection and loathing he inspired, and even Emily’s sister, Charlotte felt ‘hard put to justify Heathcliff’s ‘repulsiveness’ and was forced onto the defensive. The creation of Heathcliff, she conceded, may not have been advisable.’ (Cambridge companion to the Bronte’s, page 166)
Not solely a Byronic hero, Heathcliff is also seen to be a ‘nightmarish manifestation of subtler fears about self-making gone too far’. (Forgery in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture p. 13) Heathcliff is the epitome of a self-made man, rising from a degraded and abused orphan on the streets of Liverpool to a man of property, wealth, success and culture, a man ‘in dress and manners a gentleman: that is, as much a gentleman as many a country squire’ (Wuthering Heights p.21) a mere twenty five years later. This climb to wealth fundamentally embodies the anxieties that upper and middle class Victorians possessed regarding the working
classes. The upper classes were very ambivalent about the people below them socially; feeling charitable towards the lower-classes, yet weary of the idea that they may escape their circumstances through the acquisition of power, be it political, social, economic or cultural. The role of class in the novel is something of a constant struggle for Heathcliff, as although he manages to obtain property and therefore wealth, he can never change his appearance, which implies more socially than his wealth ever can. For even as Lockwood notes his gentlemanly appearance, he also recognises Heathcliff as a ‘dark-skinned gipsy in aspect’ (Wuthering Heights p.21), showing how his ethnic background presents an unusual contrast to his master of the house image, and how he can never truly escape his social standing. This social standing has an enormous effect on the character of Heathcliff and his life as the novel progresses.
Rescued from the streets of Liverpool, Heathcliff enters the Earnshaw household a poor orphan, which automatically deems him to be on a lower level than any other character. He is immediately characterised as a ‘villain’, ‘imp of Satan’, with a language of ‘gibberish’ (Wuthering Heights) and is cruelly referred to as “it” by Catherine’s father, seen as an object rather than a person. This poor treatment is not much of an improvement on his difficult childhood and it is clear to see that he becomes a product of this neglect and abuse. Racially different, Heathcliff can and will never be accepted by his adoptive family, something which is highlighted to readers through the fact that he is never given the Earnshaw family name.
Nelly uses an interesting choice of words to describe how the occupants of Wuthering Heights felt about Heathcliff’s arrival, saying ‘from the very beginning, he bred bad feeling in the house.’ (Wuthering heights ch. 4) These words are evocative as there is much speculation surrounding Heathcliff’s heritage. Coming from Liverpool, a town with high rates of immigrants, and with his dark looks, Heathcliff is likely of mixed race, with some critics suggesting that he is black, or, like Patrick Bronte, descended from Irish immigrants, either of which would lower his social standing even further.
The theme of class is further intertwined in the plot as Heathcliff’s low class ranking is one of the sole reasons that Catherine chooses to marry Edgar rather than to be with him, despite the fact that while her feelings towards Edgar fluctuate, she loves Heathcliff so intensely that she claims they are the same person. She finds Edgar ‘handsome and pleasant to be with’ (Wuthering Heights), yet these are merely superficialities; Catherine truly marries Edgar because he is a part of the right social class, possessing the ability to provide financial security for her. She has clearly considered the prospect of marrying Heathcliff as she not only tells Nelly that if Heathcliff and she were to marry ‘we should be beggars’ (Wuthering Heights) but also reveals plans to use Edgar’s money to help Heathcliff rise in the class system.
After Heathcliff returns, Catherine cannot contain her happiness, forcing Edgar to ask her to choose between Heathcliff and him. She refuses to honour that request, later blaming both men for breaking her heart as she could not choose between her love for Heathcliff and the life that Edgar could offer her. Marrying Edgar guaranteed Catherine a higher social standing. Overall, Heathcliff’s role in the Victorian class hierarchy plays an integral role in major events of his life. It is the reason he is abused by the master of the house, the reason that Catherine chooses Edgar over him, leading him to seek revenge and to make something of himself, but, above all, it is the reason he acts so despicably in the latter half of the novel, encouraging Isabella’s infatuation and acting aggressively. None of these events would have taken place if Heathcliff was of a higher social class, as he would have simply been able to marry Catherine.
Throughout the text, Heathcliff is repeatedly referred to as being evil in ‘nature… an unmannerly wretch’ (wuthering heights), with his own wife even asking if he is mad or a devil. Most of the characters assume that individuals are born good or evil, with people having little control over their personalities or actions. However, is Heathcliff truly a force of evil or merely a victim of it? Is it possible that he could represent both? It is undeniable that Heathcliff is a product of his upbringing. He was neglected, which in turn made him neglectful. He was abused, and so became abusive. He was segregated from the other characters, and so he cast everyone aside from himself. He was treated unfairly throughout his upbringing, making him violent and resentful in later life.
Heathcliff is the utmost paradigm of a victim turned perpetrator, and often falls back on violence as a means to express his feelings of both love and hatred. His anger is due to the mistreatment he suffered at the hands of Mr. Earnshaw, Hindley and Catherine, tying it to the revenge which he so passionately seeks. Despite this, Heathcliff also undertakes dishonourable, cruel acts against those who have done no harm to him in the past, demonstrating a side of him which shows that he is not solely a victim of evil, but also possesses a dark streak. The best example of this is the hanging of Isabella Linton’s dog, when Heathcliff says:
The first thing she saw me do, on coming out of the Grange, was to hang up her little dog; and when she pleaded for it, the first words I uttered were a wish that I had the hanging of every being belonging to her, except one possibly she took that exception for herself. (WH chapter 12)
Ultimately though, Heathcliff’s violence and darkness stems from bearing a chip on his shoulder and hanging onto the complexes gained from his past. He may possess a mean streak, however this has ultimately come as a consequence of his early life. Therefore, he is not a force of evil as such, as he had reason for the majority of his actions. No matter how violent or despicable Heathcliff may be by times, he cannot help but remain likeable, due in part to his love of Catherine. His love for her is violent in the sense that it is extremely passionate, but it stirs a brutal defensiveness; Heathcliff would never do anything to harm Catherine. Towards the end of the novel, he confesses to Nelly that he no longer has any interest in violence. This is not so much because he has sated his appetite for it, but rather he has gone past the need to inflict suffering onto others as a form of vengeance, proving that cruelty was never truly an inbuilt feature of his character.
The real discomfort created by the novel when published was not ‘so much that Heathcliff is atrocious, but that he is not, after all, entirely despicable.’ (cambridge 167) The novel consistently gives the impression that there is more to Heathcliff’s actions than meets the eye, for example, his cruelty is seen as merely an expression of his frustrated love for Catherine, or his sinister behaviour conceals the heart of a romantic hero. His character is expected to have a hidden virtue as he resembles a romantic hero, partly due to his overt masculinity, although this is taken to extremes of aggressiveness by times. Traditionally, heroes of romanticism appear dangerous, brooding and cold only to later emerge as loving and devoted.
While Heathcliff does not reform as expected, there is no need for him to do so, as he remains permanently devoted and passionate about Catherine, although unable to clearly portray these emotions. Certain malevolence proves difficult to explain, as it cannot be deemed a form of revenge against people who have previously wronged him. As he himself points out, his abuse of Isabella is purely for his sadistic amusement, seeing how much she will endure while still returning. Critic Joyce Carol Oates argues that Brontë does to the reader that which Heathcliff does to Isabella, testing to see how much the reader can be shocked by Heathcliff’s gratuitous violence and still, masochistically, insist on seeing him as a romantic hero. Oates has a valid point, as, for all his flaws and sadistic actions, one cannot hate, or even dislike the character of Heathcliff, seeing him solely as a wounded soul who tries to get back at those who previously hurt him, making him the ultimate Byronic hero of Nineteenth Century literature.
A Letter to Seamus Heaney Commenting on His Poetry
Coimisiún na Scrúduithe Stáit State Examinations Commission LEAVING CERTIFICATE EXAMINATION, 2005
English – Higher Level – Paper 2
Total Marks: 200
Wednesday, 8 June – Afternoon, 1.30 – 4.50
Candidates must attempt the following:• ONE question from SECTION I – The Single Text • ONE question from SECTION II – The Comparative Study • ONE question on the Unseen Poem from SECTION III – Poetry • ONE question on Prescribed Poetry from SECTION III – Poetry N.B. Candidates must answer on Shakespearean Drama. They may do so in SECTION I, The Single Text (Hamlet, As You Like It) or in SECTION II, The Comparative Study (Hamlet, As You Like It)
INDEX OF SINGLE TEXTS
Wuthering Heights Silas Marner Amongst Women Hamlet As You Like It − Page 2 − Page 2 − Page 2 − Page 3 − Page 3 Page 1 of 8
SECTION I THE SINGLE TEXT (60 marks)
Candidates must answer one question from this section (A – E).
A WUTHERING HEIGHTS – Emily Brontë (i) “Heathcliff deserves the sympathy of the reader of Wuthering Heights.” Write a response to this statement, supporting your views by reference to the text.
OR (ii) “The novel Wuthering Heights portrays a clash between two worlds represented by Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange.” Discuss this view of the novel, supporting your answer by reference to the text.
SILAS MARNER – George Eliot (i) “The story of Silas Marner has the magic of a fairy-tale, which leaves the reader feeling good about people.” Write a response to this view of the novel, supporting your answer by reference to the text. OR (ii) “Godfrey Cass is not perfect, but, in the eyes of the reader, he is always a better man than his brother, Dunsey.” Write your response to this statement, supporting it by reference to the text.
AMONGST WOMEN – John McGahern (i) “Michael Moran undoubtedly loves his sons, but his love contributes little to their happiness.” Discuss this view of the relationship between Michael Moran and his sons. Support your answer by reference to the text. OR (ii) “Unlike the men, the women in Amongst Women support each other very well.” Discuss this statement confining your attention to the female characters in the novel. Support your answer by reference to the text.
Page 2 of 8
HAMLET – William Shakespeare (i) In your opinion, what is the appeal of the play, Hamlet, for a twenty-first century audience? Support the points you make by reference to the text. OR (ii) “We admire Hamlet as much for his weaknesses as for his strengths.” Write a response to this view of the character of Hamlet, supporting your points by reference to the text.
AS YOU LIKE IT – William Shakespeare (i) “Rosalind’s attitudes and qualities make her a very attractive character.” Do you agree with the above view? Support your answer by reference to the play. OR (ii) “The play, As You Like It, presents many opportunities for dramatic performance.” Write your response to the above statement, supporting it by reference to the play.
Page 3 of 8
SECTION II THE COMPARATIVE STUDY (70 marks)
Candidates must answer one question from either A – The General Vision and Viewpoint or B – Literary Genre. In your answer you may not use the text you have answered on in SECTION I – The Single Text. N.B. The questions use the word text to refer to all the different kinds of texts available for study on this course, i.e. novel, play, short story, autobiography, biography, travel writing, and film. The questions use the word author to refer to novelists, playwrights, writers in all genres, and film-directors.
THE GENERAL VISION AND VIEWPOINT “Each text we read presents us with an outlook on life that may be bright or dark, or a combination of brightness and darkness.” In the light of the above statement, compare the general vision and viewpoint in at least two texts you have studied in your comparative course. (70) OR
With reference to one of the texts you have studied in your comparative course, write a note on the general vision and viewpoint in the text and on how it is communicated to the reader. (30) Compare the general vision and viewpoint in two other texts on your comparative course. Support the comparisons you make by reference to the texts. (40)
Page 4 of 8
LITERARY GENRE Write a talk to be given to Leaving Certificate students in which you explain the term Literary Genre and show them how to compare the telling of stories in at least two texts from the comparative course. (70) OR
“Powerful images and incidents are features of all good story-telling.” (a) (b) Show how this statement applies to one of the texts on your comparative course. (30) Compare the way in which powerful images and incidents are features of the story-telling in two other texts on your comparative course. Support the comparisons you make by reference to the texts. (40)
Page 5 of 8
SECTION III POETRY (70 marks)
Candidates must answer A – Unseen Poem and B – Prescribed Poetry. A UNSEEN POEM (20 marks)
Answer either Question 1 or Question 2.
BACK YARD Shine on, O moon of summer, Shine to the leaves of grass, catalpa and oak, All silver under your rain tonight. An Italian boy is sending songs to you tonight from an accordion. A Polish boy is out with his best girl; they marry next month; tonight they are throwing you kisses. An old man next door is dreaming over a sheen that sits in a cherry tree in his back yard. The clocks say I must go – I stay here sitting on the back porch drinking white thoughts you rain down. Shine on, O moon, Shake out more and more silver changes. Carl Sandburg
Do you like the world that the poet describes in this poem? Give reasons for your answer supporting them by reference to the text. (10) Choose a line or two that you find particularly appealing and explain why. (10)
Write a personal response to the poem ‘Back Yard’.
Page 6 of 8
PRESCRIBED POETRY (50 marks)
Candidates must answer one of the following questions (1 – 4). 1. “The appeal of Eavan Boland’s poetry.” Using the above title, write an essay outlining what you consider to be the appeal of Boland’s poetry. Support your points by reference to the poetry of Eavan Boland on your course. 2. What impact did the poetry of Emily Dickinson make on you as a reader? Your answer should deal with the following: – Your overall sense of the personality of the poet – The poet’s use of language/imagery Refer to the poems by Emily Dickinson that you have studied. 3. Write about the feelings that T.S. Eliot’s poetry creates in you and the aspects of his poetry (content and/or style) that help to create those feelings. Support your points by reference to the poetry by T.S. Eliot that you have read. Write an article for a school magazine introducing the poetry of W.B. Yeats to Leaving Certificate students. Tell them what he wrote about and explain what you liked in his writing, suggesting some poems that you think they would enjoy reading. Support your points by reference to the poetry by W.B. Yeats that you have studied.
How is Love Connected to Vengeance in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights Wuthering Heights’ is one of the most well-liked and highly regarded novels in British literature. Although the book shocked the Victorian society with the portrayal of the passionate, obsessive love of Heathcliff and Catherine, ‘Wuthering Heights’ remains one of the most popular novels of the 20th century.
Heathcliff and Catherine’s fervent and passionate love for one another is the key theme of the novel considering that it is the strongest and more permanent emotion portrayed in ‘Wuthering Heights’ as well as the source of the major conflicts that constitute the novel’s plot.
It’s not clear if Bronte’s intension is to encourage the condemnation of the two lovers as blameworthy or their idealization as romantic heroes whose love surpasses social norms and conventional morality. However, it is certain that the boundaries between love and revenge in the novel are quite blurred. Heathcliff, an orphan brought to live at Wuthering Heights, falls in love with Catherine, Mr.
Earnshaw’s daughter. Upon the death of Mr. Earnshaw, his son Hindley mistreats Heathcliff heavily treating him like a servant. At the same time, Catherine, driven by her aspiration for social prominence, marries Edgar Linton, leaving Heathcliff miserable and humiliated.
Full of feelings of disgrace and rejection, Heathcliff vows to spend the rest of his life seeking for revenge on all the people who betrayed them, namely Hindley, Catherine and Catherine’s children. As the novel progresses, Heathcliff transforms from an orphan, romantic lover to a powerful, rich and even cruel man, who uses all of his power to acquire both Wuthering Heights and Edgar Linton’s estate, Thrushcross Grange. Heathcliff and Catherine’s love is well-established in their childhood and is characterized by the refusal to change. Her choice to marry Edgar Linton reveals Catherine’s wish for a more refined life. However, she never adapts to her role as a wife. In a way, she remains stuck to her childhood. As she confines to Nelly, the narrator of the story, who grew up next to Hindley and Catherine Earnshaw and is profoundly involved in the story she recounts, Catherine longs to returns to the security of her childhood. On the other hand, Heathcliff is portrayed as possessing an almost herculean ability to sustain the same approach and to foster the same grudges over many years.
His obsession is capable of transforming him into a cruel character that can take revenge on Catherine, the woman he loves since childhood and proclaims as his soul. Heathcliff is actually a Gothic hero, who seeks for vengeance and his desire is so strong that can overpower the norms of civilized society. He even imprisons Catherine’s daughter, young Catherine and she forces her into marriage with his son, Linton. Moreover, Heathcliff and Catherine’s love is based on their common perception that they are indistinguishable. Catherine notoriously asserts ‘I am Heathcliff’, while Heathcliff, upon her death, moans that he cannot live without his soul. All this asexual, passionate love, denies change, and secret rendezvous and as such t cannot fit in the relentless passage of time. Ultimately, ‘Wuthering Heights’ intertwines love and vengeance as a process of change against the romantic passion of its main characters. The Narrative Techniques in Wuthering Heights
Although Wuthering Heights was Emily Bronte’s only novel, it is notable for the narrative technique she employed and the level of craftsmanship involved in it. Although there are only two obvious narrators, Lockwood and Nelly Dean, a variety of other narratives are interspersed throughout the novel. The reasons for this are that the whole action of Wuthering Heights is presented in the form of eyewitness narrations by people who have played some part in the narration they describe. Unlike other novels where parallel narratives exist i.e. same event, within the same time frame being narrated from different perspectives, Wuthering Heights has a multi-layered narration, each individual narrative opening out from its parent to reveal a new stratum (level) of the story. This intricate technique helps to maintain a continues narrative despite of the difficulties posed by the huge time-shifts involved in the novel. Lockwood as Narrator:
Lockwood is the outsider, coming into a world in which he finds bewildering and hostile, he’s a city gentleman who has stumbled on a primitive uncivilized world which he doesn’t understand, but which fascinates him. He arrives at the end of November 1801 as a tenant of Thrushcross Grange. After his initial meetings with his landlord, Mr. Heathcliff, he is laid up for two months during which time his fascination with Wuthering Heights leads to the beginning of Nelly’s narrative. By January 1802, he is sufficiently recovered to return to the Heights where he informs Heathcliff of his intention to return to London for 6 months. He returns briefly in September 1802, when he hears the conclusion of Nelly’s narrative and the final events of the novel take place. In the novel Lockwood presents the situation as he sees it, the reader is thus brought closer to the action, seeing it through the eyes of the narrator himself.
The presence of Lockwood in the book allows the author the author to begin the story near the end and work backwards and forwards in time with little difficulty. The opening chapters of the book are narrated by Lockwood and provide the reader with their introduction to this early 19th century world. The format of Lockwood’s narrative is that of a personal diary, which allows the development for the reader of an easy intimacy with an impartial character whose style – self-conscious, a little affected and facetious is nicely calculated to engage sympathy, while allowing ground for the reader to be amused at the narrators expense. With all his limitations, Lockwood is intelligent and perceptive and his precise detailed descriptions are used by his creator to create subtle changes in situation and character, an example of this is that when Lockwood first visited Wuthering Heights, he commented on the chained gate, while at the end of the novel when he returns to find Heathcliff dead, he noticed “Both doors and lattices were open”.
Changes in character are also hinted at by Lockwood’s eye for detail, he has noticed changes in both Cathy and Hareton – Cathy once described by Lockwood as “the little witch”, now has “a voice as sweet as a silver bell”. Hareton described in the opening chapters as a boor and a clown and has by the end of the novel become “a young man respectably dressed” with “handsome features”, therefore Lockwood, by fulfilling the role as the detached outsider and observer, brings a dimension to the novel which is quite different from the perception provided by Nelly. Lockwood’s Style as Narrator:
Lockwood uses an educated literacy language marked by detailed factual description and perceptive observation and comment, both on situation and character. An example of this is his description of Hareton “Meanwhile, the young man had slung onto his person a decidedly shabby upper garment, and, erecting himself before the blaze, looked down on me from the corner of his eyes, for all the world as if there was some mortal feud unavenged still between us. I began to doubt whether he was a servant or not… his bearing was free, almost haughty and he showed none of a domestic’s assiduity in attending to the lady of the house.” Lockwood’s sentences are often complex consisting of a number of clauses or long phrases, frequently separated by dashes or semi-colons, examples, “he probably swayed by the presidential considerations of the folly of offending a good tenant – released a little in the laconic style of chipping of his pronouns and auxiliary and introducing what he supposed would be a subject of interest to me.”
A noticeable aspect of Lockwood’s style is his use of words of Latin origin, e.g. prudential, laconic, auxiliary. By the end of Chapter 3, Lockwood’s style has become more complex in that his sentence structure is complicated, large numbers of adjectival and adverbial clause, a liberal use of the semi-colon and comma, to give the impression of a narrator whose command of language is sophisticated. “My human fixture and her satellites, rushed to welcome me; explaining tumultuously, they had completely given me up; everybody conjectured (guessed) that I perished last night; and they were wondering how they must set about the search for my remains. Nelly Dean as Narrator:
Nelly Dean’s narrative, though copious and detailed, has an extraordinary, sometimes breathless energy as if she were describing events that she had witnessed an hour ago, every moment of which is vividly present to her. Nelly’s narrative is an art of stark immediacy – of making the past live for us in the present. As much of Nelly’s narrative is unfolded in the words of the actual characters, we the readers, feel that the narrative is moulded by the pressure of events, not that the shape and interpretation of events is being fashioned by the narrator. The sense of actuality is conveyed by a series of concrete details that fall artlessly into place. Nelly’s sureness in relating her narrative seems to arise out of an astonishing clear memory, the impression of rapid excitement is achieved by concentrating our attention on movement and gesture, action and reaction, intermixed with vehement dialogue which convinces by its emphatic speech rhythms and plain language.
The dialogue has no trace of a conscious stylist, it is noticeable for the brief rapidity of the sentence, an example of this is Nelly’s recollection of the time leading up to Catherine’s death, when Catherine emplored her to open the window of her room – “Oh, if I were but in my own bed in the old house!” she went on bitterly, wringing her hands, “And that wind sounding in the first by the lattice. “Do let me feel it! – it comes straight down the moor – do let me have one breath!” Nelly’s value as a narrator is clear from this example, she brings us very close to the action and is in one way deeply engaged in it. The intimate affairs of the Grange and the Heights have taken up her whole life, however, her position as a professional housekeeper means that her interests in events is largely practical. She provides the inner frame of the narrative and we see this world of the successive generations of Earnshaw’s and Linton’s through her eye’s, although much of the dialogue, in the interests of objectivity, is that of the characters themselves. As a narrator reporting the past from the present, she has the benefit of hindsight and can therefore depart from the straight chronological narrative to hint at the future.
A major contrast between Nelly and Lockwood is that she, to an extent, is a character within her own narrative, which causes her several problems. At times she is involved in the action, she is now describing and therefore she treads a difficult path between romantic indulgence and moral rectitude, she both encourages and discourages relationships. Her attitude to theme sways between approval and disapproval, depending on her mood. This is primarily evident in the role she plays in the love triangle between Heathcliff, Catherine and Edgar; at times taking Edgar’s side while yet arranging the last meeting between Heathcliff and Catherine by leaving the window open for him. She adopted a similar position between the relationship between Cathy and Linton, at time colluding with Cathy and at other times judging and betraying her for writing against her father’s wishes.
There is an ambivalence in Nelly’s attitude and this combined with her meddling nature renders her moral stance inconsistent and even hypocritical. Despite these shortcomings, she is vigorous, lively narrator with a formidable memory whose energy and unflagging interests allow the reader an insight into the lives of characters. As a narrator, Nelly’s style differs substantially from that of Lockwood, much of her narrative consists of verbatim dialogue and as such is the language of the characters in Wuthering Heights. When she herself is speaking as a narrator, her language is lively, colloquial and imaginative, this has the effect of bringing characters to life and providing the reader with many vivid and precise images, an example of this is her reference to Heathcliff’s life “It’s a cuckoo’s, sir – I know all about it, except where he was born, and who were his parents, and how he got his money at first.
And that Hareton, has been cast out like a unfledged dunnock.” In this example the tagging on of the phrase “at first” suggests that Nelly knows how he got his money later and therefore arouses our interest in Heathcliff. Nelly is limited because of her conventional, religious and moral sentiments, which often prevent her from a greater understanding of the emotions or motives of the characters. This is important in Bronte’s technique as it allows the reader to believe that they have a better understanding of the characters and the developments, than either of her narrators. The inclusion of so much dialogue and the tertiary narratives of the central characters provide a direct communication between the reader and character allowing for greater immediacy and for an individual response on behalf of the reader. In this respect both Nelly and Lockwood are merely facilitators providing a mechanism through which the reader can enter a world of Wuthering Heights and react in an individual fashion to the events which transpire.
Romeo and Juliet vs Wuthering Heights
William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights” are widely considered to be two of the most influential and popular romances in English literature. The way setting is used to reflect the mood of the scene, using variations of light and dark as well as weather and nature, is very stimulating to the imaginations of the audience. This essay will discuss how Shakespeare and Brontë portray love through intelligent language and how the setting can deeply influence our perception of the characters.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines love as a warm affection or fondness. It can be shown in many different ways from many different perspectives, but never has it been so intensely portrayed as in “Romeo and Juliet” and “Wuthering Heights”. In many ways, the storylines are remarkably similar, but at the same time complete contrasts to each other, much like the characters. In “Wuthering Heights” the plot is very complex, with twists and turns at each chapter, and is spread out over the course of forty six years.
It is told in a very fresh and unusual way, being from the perspective of different characters at different parts of the novel, though mainly told by Nelly the maid servant. “Romeo and Juliet” however is surprisingly simple, being told in both third person and soliloquy, but still by the same primary characters throughout the play. The entire storyline, though spoke of as being a long lasting feud between the Montagues and the Capulets, is in fact stretched out over a very short time period of a mere week.
Both novels, particularly “Wuthering Heights”, show the semantic field of Gothicism. As an audience, our first impression of Wuthering Heights comes from the briefly appearing Mr Lockwood, who describes the terrain surrounding the house as “…the north wind, blowing over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few, stunted firs at the end of the house; and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun”. The thorns stretching away from the house and towards the light, almost as if they’re trying to escape, suggests to us that no good
will come of this building, and that a lot of tragedy is about to take place there. The fact that everything is on the brink of death warns us that it is a very dark, gloomy lay out, and gives the subtlest of hints that a supernatural element is present. The trees which by Wuthering Heights are “few” and “stunted” are by great contrast to those surrounding Thrushcross Grange, which are large and flourishing, almost engulfing the house in a bright and colourful haze. It is this welcoming façade that infects Cathy later in the book, forcing her to bury her inner desires, making Thrushcross Grange an influential setting and ultimately the turning point in the novel. It has both a well-lit exterior and interior, but hides a suffocating social standard that pressures all characters inside into hiding parts of themselves. This writing technique shows off Brontë’s ability to use light and dark to give the buildings a personality of their own, and she has very cleverly used pathetic fallacy here to set the mood of her novel early on.
Possibly in the only similarity between Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights, in both houses there is little change in its interior and exterior. Although it has lost the “stormy weather” it remains dark and forbidding, the “floor was of smooth, white stones; the chairs, high-backed, primitive structures, painted green: one or two heavy black ones lurking in the shade”. As Mr Lockwood proceeds through the house he observes “…dogs haunted other recesses” and at a later point in the chapter, after being attacked by the dogs, exclaims, “The herd of possessed swine could have had no worse spirits in them than those animals of yours, sir. You might as well leave a stranger with a brood of tigers!” This emphasises the supernatural aura surrounding Heathcliff and the moors where the novel is set, making it feel like a baron wasteland with lingering evil that foreshadows a dark story.
The gothic feel is less obvious in “Romeo and Juliet”, but it can still be detected at times. Particularly when Juliet is given the sleeping draft or “potion” to induce a death-like state. Similar to “Wuthering Heights”, there is a suggestion of the afterlife, as when Romeo and Juliet die, their love remains strong, which is the same for Cathy and Heathcliff who are said to haunt the moors. In both stories the main characters meet a grim end, and many of the secondary characters suffer the same fate as a consequence. The
dark events of both tales are relatively alike; each containing complicated family trees that live in a constant rivalry, backstabbing (quite literally in “Romeo and Juliet”) and a tragic romance.
These themes may have been induced by the times in which the stories were written. Both when William Shakespeare and Emily Brontë were living in England there was a queen on the throne, which brought about much opposition and assassination attempts were not uncommon. These uncertain times certainly influenced their writing, and Brontë especially had reason to weave depressing matters into her novel. It becomes quickly apparent to the reader of “Wuthering Heights” that very few mother figures appear in the plotline; this is probably because Emily’s mother died of cancer when she was just a young girl, and so she was raised by her father and older sisters. Her brother became a drunk and may have been the inspiration for Hindley, and as for the style of her writing, that was most likely due to her father’s unique way of up-bringing. They lived in a very different and equal environment, reading great literature including the works of Lord Byron. These were a collection of poems describing dangerous but passionate men, who more often than not loved destructively. These poems were definitely the basis of Heathcliff’s character, and possibly even the harshness of Cathy’s wild side.
The fact that Brontë originally published “Wuthering Heights” under the pseudonym Ellis Bell tells us that she was afraid to use her real name because of the public’s opinion, believing that her novel may be shocking and unaccepted in society. Since Brontë grew up in Haworth, which is situated on the Yorkshire moors, the character Cathy may have been a reflection of her inner self, making the novel in some ways semi-autobiographical. The dominance that Cathy has over the men in her life must have been very challenging to the structure of society in Brontë’s time, and almost certainly would have had an impact on women’s status up until that point. The female characters in the novel are often described as being possessions; this is shown through her belief that Edgar is more suited to her worth and therefore the more practical choice of husband.
Heathcliff very much represents everything dark and dangerous about love, the way it can turn into an obsession and consume you entirely, and in my opinion he is the ultimate victim of the story. This is in complete contrast to Edgar who is a very kind and gentle figure, almost weak at times despite his higher social rank. Everything about his appearance symbolises perfectly the delicacy of love, his “light hair and fair skin” creating a child-like image in the reader’s mind. He “seldom mustered courage to visit Wuthering Heights” which shows that he fears the rough and jagged exterior of both the house and Heathcliff. The way Cathy describes her love for him as being “like the foliage in the woods: time will change it” shows that she is quite a shallow character, professing to love Edgar for his looks and nurturing personality alone, whilst still remaining in the certain belief that she will not feel that way forever. Whereas her love for Heathcliff is bordering fixation as she says it “resembles the eternal rocks beneath” and later goes on to claim that if all things ended and he remained she would continue to be, but if he died and all else remained she would cease all existence. This is such an intense portrayal of love and the use of language here, although metaphorical, is incredibly powerful. Referring to nature in both examples, though very different forms of nature; Edgar as the weak foliage and Heathcliff as the tough rocks.
Younger Catherine however seems to incorporate both her mother’s wild streak and her father’s kindness, in a much more balanced and healthy combination. She shows this in her first marriage to Linton, caring for him on his deathbed when Heathcliff refuses to. He doesn’t see Linton as his true son, since he came from Heathcliff’s marriage to Isabella which he arranged out of pure jealousy and revenge. It is in this way that we get to see just how much love has changed Heathcliff, turning him into a very bitter and cold hearted person. Upon Cathy’s death he hopes that she may never find rest whilst he still lives, which despite being a selfish thing to say, it can in some ways be justified after all the pain Cathy has put him through.
Throughout his entire life, Heathcliff was on the receiving end of both verbal and physical abuse, most of which coming from Hindley who hated him for being Mr Earnshaw’s favourite son. This again changes Heathcliff from an
adventurous man to a lonely recluse, taking to wandering the moors towards the end of the novel and eventually dying from nothing more than a broken heart. Unlike many of the other characters, who throughout the course of the novel die of illness at young age. This may also reflect the times in which it was written, when life expectancy was far lower than it is today. Nelly however is an exception to this phenomenon, as she is the only character who lives to see the unfolding of the entire tale, acting as a mother figure to many different people including Heathcliff.
In this way, Nelly is very similar to the nurse in “Romeo and Juliet” who in some ways is more like Juliet’s mother than Lady Capulet. Since in those days it was improper for a woman of such high stature to breast feed, it is implied that the Nurse did this instead, as well as looking out for Juliet’s interests more. Her father arranges a marriage for her, and when she refuses he threatens to disown her from then on. This reflects the times in which the play was set and written, because women had very little say in their own lives.
The setting of Verona very much reflects the mood of its inhabitants; it is an incredibly hot place, as are the hot headed characters. Violence is just as much a part of “Romeo and Juliet” as love. Perhaps the most blatant proof of this is in the quote “These violent delights have violent ends, and in their triumph die, like fire and powder, which, as they kiss, consume”. Unlike in “Wuthering Heights”, there is infact little contrast between the two opposing families. Members of both the Capulets and the Montagues think alike, some seeking peace whilst others wishing only to fight. It is a unique story, one of the most unusual features being the introduction, where Shakespeare makes the ending blatantly clear to the audience. Despite this being an automatic give away, it has become one of the basic templates for any romance, and traces of the original plot can be found in almost every love story since its telling.
Religious symbology is a common occurrence in the play, the most obvious example of this being upon Romeo and Juliet’s first meeting, where Romeo refers to Juliet as a Saint, and one that he, a simple pilgrim, would kiss
if only he wasn’t afraid to dirty her purity. This style of language resurfaces at several key points in the story, as does the theme of light and darkness in one of the most iconic lines of the story “But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun”. By describing Juliet as the sun he suggests that she brings all light into his life, and is the centre of his world. Shakespeare uses a lot of these metaphors and so paints his idea of love as something pure that should be cherished, but also easy to slip into obsession.
In “Romeo and Juliet” the portrayal of love is far less unrequited but just as destructive. Almost all the main characters die, much like in “Wuthering Heights”, and both stories reach a relatively similar outcome: returning to peace once the lovers are dead. They have quite grim lessons, the turning point in each being down to miscommunication and possibly fate, since in each story the “star-crossed lovers” are far too different to ever be accepted in society as a couple. This might reflect society as a whole, both when the stories were written and present day, which in turn may be the reason for their huge success. On a personal note, I have found that “Wuthering Heights” has a lot more depth to it than “Romeo and Juliet”. A lot of the characters are far more complex and difficult to fully understand, but still equally relatable. However, it is my firm belief that both stories are works of genius, and that their creators have impacted English literature on a massive scale, inspiring generations of creative writers.
By Jessica Lines
Language and Imagery in Wuthering Heights
In Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte uses Language and imagery to create a very stark contrast between Heathcliff, and Edgar Linton. This contrast is not only illustrated in how these characters act, but also in their appearance, usual setting and the language that is used to describe them. Emily Bronte first uses the raw basics of the characters Heathcliff and Edgar Linton to right away let us know that these characters are polar opposites. She does this with the imagery of both characters.
In chapter 7, Heathcliff describes Edgar as having light skin and fair hair, whereas in the same chapter it is mentioned that Heathcliff has dark hair and dark skin. This use of binary opposites suggests to the reader already, that Heathcliff and Edgar are complete opposites, right down to their core.
This use of Binary opposites and imagery is also applied to where Heathcliff and Edgar live, Edgar living in Thrushcross Grange, the light, large house, and Heathcliff living in the dark, gloomy and sinister house of Wuthering Heights.
This imagery of the two houses reflects the characters of the two men. Language is also used effectively and in abundance by Bronte to illustrate the two characters differences. Bronte uses contrasting Lexical fields pertaining to heaven and hell to not only show the contrast in character between Heathcliff and Edgar, but to suggest that one is good and one is evil.
For instance Heathcliff is constantly being described as or being referred to with the use of words which relate to hell. His eyes are described as ‘devils spies’ and ‘ dark fiends’ by Nelly, and coupled with his appearance of being dark skinned and haired, he is closely associated with the devil, who represents evil. Edgar on the other hand, is described with a lexical field of a more heavenly nature. His eyes are referred to as being little Angels and his features are continuously called angelic and soft, which suggests he is similar to an angel, which is of course good. By using contrasting lexical fields for each character, Bronte uses selective language to suggest that these two are not only opposites, but they are Good and Evil.
Heathcliff is, when being talked of, surrounded by sinister sounding words which aren’t necessarily talking about his character explicitly, but they help to create a dark and sinister atmosphere around his character. An example of this is in chapter seven where Nelly is talking about Heathcliff she uses words such as ‘lurk’ and ‘vicious’ and this is what creates this dark atmosphere. Bronte does the same with Edgar, as when he is talking or being talked about, words such as ‘gently’ and ‘beautiful’ are used and this helps to project a calm and soft atmosphere around Edgar, which is completely different to the atmosphere Heathcliff carries with him, and thus increases the contrast that the reader sees between Heathcliff and Edgar.
Catherine brings our attention to the contrast between the two in chapter 9 where she says ‘(Heathcliff’s soul) and Linton’s is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire’ This use of binary opposites again suggests with the use of the words fire and lightning that Heathcliff is violent and harmful and burns, which again associates him with hell, and the use of Frost and moonbeam to describe Edgars soul to suggest he is soft, light, cool and calm reinforces the already stark contrast between the two and again suggests them not only to be different, but to be complete opposites.
The fact that to most readers it would be obvious as to which out of either Heathcliff and Edgar is the fire and lightning shows how Bronte has been slotting words into the text as well as the individual characters, to make the reader associate Heathcliff with hell, and Edgar with Heaven. In conclusion, Bronte uses particular lexical fields which are binary opposites to each other and applies them to Heathcliff and Linton to exacerbate the contrast seen between the two. Bronte also uses imagery of their physical appearance and living place, paired with continuous subtle language choices to make the reader associate Heathcliff with Hell, and Edgar with Heaven, and this makes us not only see the two as contrasting characters, but bad and good, and at the completely different ends of the spectrum.
Sympathetic Background in Wuthering Heights
How does Emily Bronte use supportive background in Volume One to communicate disaster? Volume One includes a tense story which is a mark of Bronte’s ominous design from which awful occasions happen. With this jumping in between occasions, there is an obvious foreshadowing of disaster through a combination of pitiful fallacy, emotional meaning and understanding background. Considerate background is the literary device where the environments mirror, imitate or elope with the feelings of the characters in it. Sympathetic background is specifically apparent when Bronte utilizes much of the settings of Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights to convey the feelings of the characters within.
The use of understanding background can be viewed as early as the very first chapter, in which the Heath is explained. Bronte uses “Wuthering” in the sense that it’s a “substantial provincial story, detailed of the climatic tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather.” This sets the tone for the start of the unique and the turmoil much of the characters need to endure in order to achieve some sort of parity.
This view is embossed with “stunted firs” and “large sticking out stones”. She utilizes the image of “gaunt thorns all extending their limbs one way, as if yearning the alms of the sun”, portraying a sense of the Heights always being shrouded in darkness, never completely leaving it.
The other result of it is the concept of zombies, the undead, craving some type of human energy to survive, a yearning for balance. Understanding background at times is used to show to the reader the time at which the book is composed. Bronte’s very first volume does not get to grips with chronological exactitude, more discarding it in favour of letting the story unfold through the reader’s intellect and piecing the narrative together. Usage of the background is most evident where the settings outside are the markers of what season the dwellers need to endure, whether it is a severe storm or a serene backdrop on the Yorkshire moors, overlapping with pathetic fallacy at times to evoke tragic effects of rowdy actions.
Chapter 2, Lockwood’s return to the Heights is marked with unwelcome gestures on behalf of Heathcliff et al. As the tension heightens, the blizzard outside gets continually worse. The surroundings are mimicking the emotions of the characters, with Heathcliff mistaking the dead “heap of rabbits for a cushion full of cats” is black humour employed by Bronte to show Lockwood being unsettled. The following chapter, the writings on the wall and the palimpsest bemuses Lockwood in his quarters, with his following dreams a symbolic foreshadowing
. The background brings about changes in the novel and sometimes can redirect the narrative towards another focus. This psychoanalytical part of the novel defies the boundary between the rational and irrational, the self and the world through dreaming. The product of this is a underlying statement that there are far deeper meanings that what we can see and touch, which becomes a cyclical allusion at the end of the novel.
The tone after the death of Mr Earnshaw is bitter and unequal as the power struggle between Earnshaw and Hindley takes place. After returning with Frances in Chapter 6, the rivalry between the two become more feral and raw, with Heathcliff at one point being locked outside by Joseph, after being instructed to do so by Hindley. He is forced into the barn, bringing him down to the lowest level possible. After being found of the streets of Liverpool, he is back in muck and squalor, with the background mimicking the feeling that he’s in the doldrums for his sins, and after being described as “devilish”, this helps to enforce the psychoanalytic perspective that he is and represents the power of the devil in its human form, condemned to hell.
This chapter also gives Heathcliff his first major speech, from which he scorns “I’d not exchange, for a thousand lives, my condition here, for Edgar Linton’s at Thrushcross Grange-not if I might have the privilege of flinging Joseph off the highest gable, and painting the house-front with Hindley’s blood!”. These graphic, gothic lines show his emotional bonds with the Heights, that he and the Heights share each others’ feelings in times of hardship and struggle. It’s showing that both houses are representative of classes, from a Marxist perspective. The natural power of the Heights is matched by the moral power of the Grange.
This balance turns into another struggle in Chapter 8, this time between Heathcliff and Edgar Linton. With Catherine caught in a trap of whether to follow her heart or her head, with Heathcliff pressuring Catherine into giving into him, who is then distraught when he overhears a conversation between her and Nelly, hears the wrong part, then running off. The conversation by the fire with Nelly isn’t as covert as planned, as the surroundings, the howling gale outside influence the characters. Uttering the cutting line “I am Heathcliff”, she is distraught as he gallops away.
With her new found opulence, the new Misses Linton is beset by woe 5 years on when Heathcliff returns to the Grange in Chapter 10. This immense jubilation is matched by despair as Heathcliff chooses Isabella to get back at Catherine. This blending of classes, attitudes and houses can only end one way in a Marxist perspective; tragedy. Nelly returns to the Heights to see it in decay, with Hindley in a similar fashion. The surroundings once again mimic the state of the characters. As Hindley’s life lies in decay, the Heights follows. The last chapter switches time to the present, with Lockwood “trying” not to fall in love with the current Cathy. The surroundings now have evolved, but Heathcliff is still stuck in a rut at the Heights.
Bronte’s use of the literary device of sympathetic background perfectly befits the characters and surroundings in Wuthering Heights, setting the tone and giving the characters another layer and more depth within the novel. With both houses representing natural and moral values respectively, and the unpredictable moors showing the irrational temperament of each of the characters, the device effectively utilises all the ominous events and foreboding symbols in Volume One to convey tragedy.
Two houses in Emily Bronte's "Wuthering Heights"
In Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, her descriptions of two houses create distinct atmospheres that mirror the actions of the respective inhabitants. The pristine and well-kept Thrushcross Grange can be viewed as a haven when compared to the chaotic Wuthering Heights. Wuthering Heights symbolizes the anger, hatred and deep-felt tension of that house while Thrushcross Grange embodies the superficial feelings and materialistic outlook of its inhabitants. Each house parallels the emotions and the moods of the residents and their world views.
The true depth of the novel emerges when the lives of the residents in the houses intertwine.
The locations of Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights reinforce the personalities of its inhabitants. Wuthering Heights is placed among stunted bushes with limbs stretching away from the wind and possesses narrow windows that fight against the same strong winds. Set on a bleak hilltop, the ground surrounding Wuthering Heights remains hard, covered in a black frost most of the year. The old furniture hastily organized in cramped rooms, the chairs high-backed and primitive in design and old guns hung over the chimney make Wuthering Heights an unwelcoming home.
Merely four miles away, Thrushcross Grange has an entirely different appeal, surrounded by a lovely forest of oak and hazel trees. Thrushcross Grange glimmers in the sun and, with its large window and luxurious interior, displays the wealth of its owner. Having a garden blanketed with vivid flowers and plants, Thrushcross Grange has a tranquil tamed park rather than being surrounded by the moors. Thrushcross Grange, described with crimson carpeting and crimson covered tables and chairs, has a pure white ceiling bordered by gold from which hung a fancy glass chandelier.
The differences in Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange add intensity to the personal story of the Lintons and Earnshaws by each directly representing their owners. Throughout the novel, Wuthering Heights acts as a prison, confining its residents with its narrow windows and large stones. Much like Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff is dark and misunderstood by most people. Built strong, Heathcliff and Wuthering Heights endure much punishment while still remaining intact. Only the older Catherine and Hareton are able to appreciate Heathcliff and Wuthering Heights, looking
past the less than refined exterior and seeing from within.
Similar to its inhabitants, Thrushcross Grange brings out the selfish and materialistic mind set of its residents. This point is strengthened when Heathcliff and Cathy spot Edgar and Isabella fighting over a puppy, finding amusement while caring nothing for its life. Thrushcross Grange becomes a place of healing for instance when Cathy injures her ankle and when she gets sick after searching for Heathcliff. These events are analogous to the accommodating and inviting nature of the Lintons. Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange both share qualities with their respective residents.
The dark and confining Wuthering Heights and the light and inviting Thrushcross Grange set the stage for the many battles between Heathcliff, the Earnshaws and the Lintons. The inhabitants of the rustic Wuthering Heights are naturally envious of the residents of the luxurious Thrushcross Grange. The unsettled jealousy between Heathcliff and Edgar reaches its boiling point at Thrushcross Grange where Edgar holds the power. Summoning his servants to defend him, Edgar possesses a certain power over Heathcliff.
Thrushcross Grange also becomes a method of tearing people apart, such as Heathcliff and Cathy. First Thrushcross Grange is where Cathy learns about the finer things in life and develops into someone too refined for Heathcliff. Later Thrushcross Grange becomes a place where Heathcliff is not wanted and not allowed. Thrushcross Grange was the main barrier Heathcliff had to overcome to finally remain together in their afterlives.
Wuthering Height and Thrushcross Grange contribute to the depth and meaning of Brontë’s work. Wuthering Heights, a dark and weather beaten house, is situated on a bleak icy hill while Thrushcross Grange is beautifully kept and placed in a majestic park. The battered Wuthering Heights can easily be associated with the equally abused Heathcliff contrasted with the warm and inviting Thrushcross Grange that shares many qualities with Edgar. The opposing houses are occupied by equally opposing residents, a truth that surface throughout the novel. The battles between Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange add an extra layer to the complex Brontë novel.