Emily Bronte Illusion and Reality

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A consideration of how Emily Bronte, Tennessee Williams and Shakespeare consider the notion of illusion and reality in the context of a love story. Wuthering Heights follows the Romantic Movement, a movement within literature during the late 18th century with captured intense emotion and passion within writing as opposed to rationalisation. Emily Bronte’s main focal point within the novel is the extreme emotion of love and whether it leads to the characters contentment or ultimate calamity. This confliction of love is portrayed mainly through Catherine Earnshaw, a contemptuous, spoiled beauty whose metaphysical love for the protagonist, Heathcliff, will be tested by her disillusion of Edgar Linton and the social and financial benefits he can administer. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams has many comparisons to Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. Not only are the characters emotions and ambitions similar, but the fundamental themes such as thwarted desire and fantasy versus reality are coinciding. Blanche has already started to degenerate at the beginning of the play; she belongs in her own idealistic world of fantasy where her cheap but flashy clothes sustain her fading physical complexion and her dainty, air of propriety gives her a convenient appearance although in actuality she is an aging alcoholic with a poor reputation due to her flirtatious, sexual desires. Catherine Earnshaw has virtually identical attributes with regards to her disposition. They are both concealing their true personality behind a veneer of elegant clothes and snobbery, and each has an illusory romantic belief that causes their demolition. William Shakespeare has many additions to the literary theme of love through the publishing of his famous sonnets in the 1600’s. The first 126 sonnets are established as being addressed to a young man and the second half of the sonnets addressed to “the dark lady”. Many of the sonnets fundamental themes such as reality and illusion can be portrayed within both other literacy texts. Following the Romantic Movement within literature, Emily Bronte focuses the relationship between Heathcliff and Catherine on the correspondence of metaphysical love, this being infinite, eternal and on a higher plane than the physical world. Similar to other gothic writers, the surrounding environment of Wuthering Heights is used for metaphorical purposes to reflect the emotions of the characters. David Cecil composed a theory that the novel is a universe of the calm versus the storm. Wuthering Heights embodies the land of the storm being located in a windy, savage area – “a perfect misanthropist’s heaven” – and this is reflected within the cruel, heartless occupants. In comparison Thrushcross grange is settled in a valley with civilised residents who have connotations of the “calm”. While the adjective “Wuthering” means stormy nature, “thrush” can be associated with a bird that is famous for tunefulness song and can be related to Christian piety, illustrating the Linton’s have qualities of dutifulness and devotion. Likewise Tennessee Williams identifies features of the surrounding environment to contemplate the Characters traits. In New Orleans there was a streetcar that carried the word “Desire” as its destination and another “Cemeteries”. This has relevance to Blanche whose desires in life actually cause her eventual disengagement from reality; in comparison this is a very prominent feature within Catherine Earnshaw’s life as the illusion of the betterments Edgar can provide cause’s repression of her feelings leading to a repellent mental state. Wuthering Heights presents a collision between civilisation which contains a more affirmative, restricted and realistic view of life, against an uncontrollable, spiritual energy within nature, reflected not only within the opposing environments but also with the characters. For example Cathy’s naïve expectations of Edgar providing a conventional lifestyle with social advancements...
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