Wuthering Heights- a Religious Novel

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Wuthering Heights is not a religious novel in the sense that it supports a particular religion (Christianity), or a particular branch of Christianity (Protestantism), a particular Protestant denomination (Church of England). Rather, religion in this novel takes the form of the awareness of or conviction of the existence of a spirit-afterlife.

An overwhelming sense of the presence of a larger reality moved Rudolph Otto to call Wuthering Heights a supreme example of "the daemonic" in literature. Otto was concerned with identifying the non-rational mystery behind all religion and all religious experiences; he called this basic element or mystery the numinous. The numinous grips or stirs the mind so powerfully that one of the responses it produces is numinous dread, which consists of awe or awe-fullness. Numinous dread implies three qualities of the numinous: its absolute unapproachability, its power, and. its urgency or energy. A misunderstanding of these qualities and of numinous dread by primitive people gives rise to daemonic dread, which Otto identifies as the first stage in religious development. At the same time that they feel dread, they are drawn by the fascinating power of the numinous. Otto explains, "The daemonic-divine object may appear to the mind an object of horror and dread, but at the same time it is no less something that allures with a potent charm, and the creature, who trembles before it, utterly cowed and cast down, has always at the same time the impulse to turn to it, nay even to make it somehow his own." Still, acknowledgment of the "daemonic" is a genuine religious experience, and from it arise the gods and demons of later religions. It has been suggested that Gothic fiction originated primarily as a quest for numinous dread.

For Derek Traversi the motive force of Brontë's novel is "a thirst for religious experience," which is not Christian. It is this spirit which moves Catherine to exclaim, "surely you and everybody have a notion...
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