Would you agree with the view that in Wuthering Heights, Bronte combines realism and gothic symbolism to create a romance novel of social relevance? Discuss.
Although Wuthering Heights received neither critical praise nor any local popularity during its initial publication, the reading public has changed substantially since 1847, and now both critical and popular opinion praise Emily Brontë's singular work of fiction. Victorian society would not accept the violent characters and harsh realities of Wuthering Heights, but subsequent audiences are both more understanding and accepting of the use of unsavory aspects of human life in literature. This essay will focus on how Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, combine realism and gothic symbolism to form a romance novel that is of social relevance. The self-destructive journey of Heathcliff as he seeks revenge for losing his soul mate, Catherine, to Edgar Linton and Bronte's discussion of themes such as good versus evil, chaos and order, selfishness, betrayal, and obsession intertwine as the story unfolds presenting its social relevance.
The isolated setting is important for Brontë's combination of realism and gothic symbolism. Connecting Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange serve a dual purpose linking the two households while simultaneously separating them from the village and all others. Brontë took conventions of the time and instead of merely recreating them in a work of her own, used them as a springboard to write an entirely original tale, creating characters that are simultaneously real and symbolic archetypes. (Graham,50). Regional descriptive detail accumulates to realistically particularize the time, place, culture of the setting. Despite incursions of irrational excess in some characters and purported super-natural elements, the plot and conflicts of the novel advance by plausibly logical chain of cause-effect events traceable to characters' natures, choices and decisions, interactions, and their consequences
Furthermore the portrayal of women, society, and class bear witness to a time that's foreign to contemporary readers. However though the society is different today than it was two centuries ago, people remain the same, and contemporary readers can still relate to the feelings and emotions of the central characters, Heathcliff and Catherine, as well as those of the supporting characters, because Brontë's characters are real, they are human subjects with human emotions. Therefore, Wuthering Heights is not just a sentimental romance novel. It is a presentation of life, an essay on love, and a glimpse at relationships. Bronte has featured realistic elements in her differenciation of the middle and lower class portraying characters such as Linton and Heathcliff. Featuring Wuthering Heights as a social novel, Brontë illustrates how class mobility is not always moving in one direction. For Catherine, representing a lower class, social class plays a major role when deciding to get married. That is why she cannot marry Heathcliff and agrees, instead, to marry Edgar. ''It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him; and that, not because he’s handsome, Nelly, but because he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same, and Edgar’s is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.'' (Wuthering Heights) For Isabella, however, just the opposite is true. She is drawn to the wild, mysterious man, regardless of the fact that he is beneath her social standing. As a result of her infatuation, she loses everything that is dear to her. Readers must therefore look not only to social class when judging and analyzing characters; they must determine what decisions are made by members of a certain class and why these characters made the decisions relating it to the modern...
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Sharma,R.S. "Wuthering Heights": A Commentary. Atlantic Publishers & Dist, 1994.
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