Friday, March 26, 2010

To Study Wuthering Heights

Analysis of Wuthering HeightsThis is a featured page

Some of the questions or items I would deal with in analysis of Wuthering Heights would be -

Setting- the place, Yorkshire moors, a remote and rugged northern rural area of sheep farming. A place removed from the mainstream and independent, a place alone.

Within that setting, everything is double-
2 houses-

the farm house at the Heights, strong, built of stone, buffeted by winds and storms, solid and alive with farm and family life with evidence of cooking, hunting, animal raising etc., with great fires in fireplace, articles of daily life on show, great hams hanging and copper pans etc. in dresser

- the manor house at the Grange, in the valley, protected from winds, enclosed in a park, with kitchens removed from the living rooms, gilded and decorated richly.

-2 atmospheres- the wild Heights and the civilized Grange - and these change with the inmates- the heights sparkles with family life and wallows in filth and hate - the Grange fosters in sunshine and joy a new marraige and becomes a stifling prison.

A discussion of the contrasts here between the Heights and the Grange would be useful. For example, How do the characters react to these two places? Heathcliff scorns the " soft civilized place" and Cathy, who admired the Grange and its luxuries, later finds it stifling. Cathy and Heathcliff both look upon the wild height as heaven. How does Nelly feel? Lockwood and Isabella?

Characters are also double

2 families- the Earnshaws who are of farming stock and the Lintons, gentry.

2 generations- Heathcliff, Cathy, Edgar and Hareton, Linton, Catherine.

How do they contrast with each other and interact.? The relationships are complex- Heathcliff becomes foster brother to the Earnshaw children and conflict results. Other relationships are formed, creating more havoc.

Cathy marries Edgar. Isabella becomes Cathy's sister-in law. Heathcliff marries Isabella and becomes Edgar's brother- in law. Linton marries young Catherine and becomes Heathcliff's daughter-in-law. Linton, and Hareton are young Catherine's cousins and husbands.

Heathcliff and Cathy's characters are very important to explore, in the first generation of conflict and death, and Hareton's and Catherine's character in the second generation of reconciliation and life.

The characters are complex and fully drawn. Even Heathcliff" the devil" can sit by a sick bed and hold an hours conversation about intelligent matters. Joeseph, believes in the religious trend of the day, predestination and the chosen elect who will go to heaven while everyone else goes to hell. Hear him pray in the thunderstorm to be set aside with the elect of god. Hareton, brought up in rudeness and dirt, has terrible table manners and a golden heart and noble spirit. And so.... all the other charters ........

Narration gives a double view with 2 narrators, female, Nellie, an insider and male, Lockwood, outsider. What does Nelly tell? How does she tell it? How does she affect the action? Lockwood stumbles into a mystery. How does this grab the reader's interest and hold it?

The plot centers on the insertion of into the family as a foster brother, and all of the disruptions of relationships that follow. Joseph is a fixed mover in the story, preaching hell and damnation throughout. The plot is driven by Heathcliff's and Cathy's need for each other, a need that defies death. Explore hate and love relationships and the seeking of revenge and of peace.

The language needs some examination. The dialect of Joseph and the very poetical language of Emily Bronte. She uses lots of alliteration.

Then, of course , the theme.. What is it? Is it a boy girl love story or something far greater like an agony of the human soul. ? Is there more than one theme? What about religion, and marriage with the husband having all of the rights, and behaviour, and prejudice against " the Gypsy and the out and outer"

Content is rich-The detail in the story is fascinating. Every part of daily life is exposed, down to the very chairs and beds and food and fires and sheep herding. Wills and weddings show Emily's knowledge of family law. The inside of the houses and the outside of the moors are described as well as the inside and the outside of all of the people.

Some content is missing on purpose. Emily Bronte leaves mysteries everywhere. Where was Heathcliff born? Who is he? Where does he run away to? How does he educate himself and get rich? Where did Hindley meet his wife, Frances? Who was she? Cathy wants to tell Ellen a dream but tells another. What was the first dream about? How does she catch and hold the readers attention, throughout the story and for ever in memory?

And what about Nellie? How does she drive the plot. Is she an observer or an activist? Does she good or harm?

To be continued Rosi

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