Examine the Gothic Elements in the Novel Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë
Gothic literature originated and was very strong at the time of the Romantic Writers Movement. They were very popular and had authors such as Horace Walpole who wrote “The Castle of Oranto”, and novels such as “Frankenstein” and “Dracula“. Gothic novels all had a similarity between each other. They always had typical Gothic features which alleviated the novel in one way or another. For example, most Gothic novels involved settings which generally added fear and suspense. They were always quite dark, scary and isolated. Also the characters of the Gothic novels never seemed to fit in the community and the society. They usually were handicapped, disabled or deformed in their appearance. In some cases the novel would contain supernatural events or would be based on them. Wuthering Heights is a controversial story, written and created be Emily Brontë, a woman. In the mid 1800’s, the position of women in society was regarded in a bad way. People of the community would never think or believe that a lady could ever possibly write a novel with such emotions. However the novel was still greatly popular with the outside world, people and society when it was first published.
Wuthering Heights is set in the early 19th century around the households of Thrush Cross Grange and Wuthering Heights. Although Emily Brontë does not tell the reader, it is set in the Yorkshire Moors close to where the author and her sisters Charlotte and Anne lived. An interesting aspect of Wuthering Heights is its narrative structure. In this novel the narrative structure is quite intelligent and surprising. Lockwood is the main story teller as he tells us about Wuthering Heights in first person. Later in the novel, he passes his role down to Nelly. Lockwood acts as a framing device who allows Nelly to continue as she is the main story teller. This devices adds suspense to the novel. It allows the reader to become drawn to the novel. Wuthering Heights is both an example of a “Romantic Tragedy” which contains strong Gothic elements in the setting, events and characters.
The name Wuthering Heights was chosen by Emily Brontë to reflect the hostile weather which is cold, unfriendly and morbid. This also describes the building and the novel the same as the weather was described. The setting plays a huge role in this novel. At the beginning of the novel, Emily Brontë gives us a very accurate description of the house in which Heathcliff owns. It mentions “..Before passing the threshold, I passed to admire a quantity of grotesque carving lavished over the front, and especially above the principal door; above which, among a wilderness of crumbling griffins..” This sets the scene as very Gothic. It also sets the atmosphere as harsh. In the novel the building is stated to be in a position exposed to the “..Atmospheric tumult..” This has many meanings but one is that; as you would expect in many Gothic novels, the setting and location of buildings and places are far and isolated. Wuthering Heights is so completely removed from the sheer of society. Emily Brontë emphasizes how far away Wuthering Heights is from society; “..At the sea coast..” and “.. No more rash journeys on these hills..” The weather also plays an important part in the novel. In parts of the novel the weather is described as “..Misty and cold..” and “..Wild and terrifying..“ This sets the atmosphere as scary and Gothic for most of the key scenes. This is an example of Pathetic Fallacy, which basically means that the weather reflects the mood and atmosphere of the current character or situation. For example on page twenty-eight, chapter two, it says; “ ..Dark night coming down prematurely..” This reflects the mood of the situation as if danger is coming. The language is important as well. For example “..Dark night..” makes up an image of not only a “..Dark..” night but also a “..Evil..” night, a “..Terrifying..” night or even...
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