Wuthering Heights

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‘Fiction of this period is dominated by the characters’ need to escape from walls, boundaries and ideological restrictions.’ How far do you agree with this interpretation of Wuthering Heights and your partner text? In Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte emphasises the ways in which characters are literally trapped, emotionally repressed, socially oppressed and intellectually guarded. Bronte portrays her character as determined to break free from their shackles and explores the theme in three key ways. Bronte satirises the church’s vain attempts to control the characters’ lives and curb their instincts. Written in the 1840’s but set between 1770 and 1802, the novel also reveals the ways in which the industrial revolution was allowing people to undermine and overcome hitherto rigid class boundaries. Finally, Bronte depicts the ways in which women are challenging their traditional roles. Throughout the novels Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte countless comparisons can be made. Both novels are stories of love and how this powerful emotion was able to overcome countless obstacles. These obstacles were lengthy struggles that characters within each novel were faced with and went through immense pain all for love. In the novel Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte portrays Christian morality and causes characters to feel claustrophobic with her frequent reiteration of religious ideas. The character of Joseph is a devout Christian and so symbolises all that is good about a characters morality, this is evident when Lockwood describes Joseph as having ‘ransacked’ the Bible for his entire life. Whereas the character of Hindley for example conveys the opposite viewpoint and all that is bad about Christian morality when he orders Joseph to work ‘out of doors’ with the peasants. These religious ideas are highlighted in only the second chapter when Lockwood compares his first impressions of Wuthering Heights to a religious home and how he possibly feels claustrophobic when he claims it has a ’dismal spiritual atmosphere’, this immediately implies to the reader that perhaps the character of Lockwood is religious because he is almost comparing Wuthering Heights to a place of worship. This is further emphasised in the sixth chapter when Heathcliff and Catherine run away to the moors and describe it as being ’in heaven’. This elicts to the reader that Wuthering Heights is like hell, and so they feel trapped, which insinuates at the idea of claustrophobia. Also, by describing it as this would show that perhaps Heathcliff and Catherine have had some sort of religious teaching in their upbringings due to their understanding of the ideas of heaven and hell. Furthermore, in chapter seven Bronte’s use of the simile ‘like devils spies’ further questions the reader’s attitude towards Christian morality and the imagery of ‘purgatory’ is perhaps a metaphor for Wuthering Heights. This constant bombardment of religious diction reiterates and enables Bronte to present the idea of Christian morality in the reader’s mind. Moreover, in chapter twelve the thought of church being a burden on their lives and the fact that they are almost forced to believe in it is stressed when Lockwood says ‘not go to church’ and ‘bury me then throw the church over me’. This sarcastic approach towards the church and Christianity in general shows the characters are perhaps growing tiresome of going to church and are conceivably just fed up with their humdrum lives. It also displays to the reader the typical life of an eighteenth century family in that they must go to church as regularly as possible and if they don’t then they are perceived as the black sheep of the family. This idea of people growing tired of the same old routine is repeated when Nelly Dean’s daily routine is expressed as ‘the chapel’ and ‘the only building she had entered’. This underlines the idea of claustrophobia being withstood by the characters because other than Wuthering Heights...
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