Wuthering Heights


Points To Ponder

1. How does exaggeration play a part in Wuthering Heights?

Exaggeration and embellishment play a fundamental part in the gothic genre. Everything is made bigger—the desolate landscape, the passion of the characters, the despair, the distress, the love, and the care. Nothing is lukewarm or moderate. Linton Heathcliff, for example, is perhaps the most apathetic character, and he comes across as nearly as revolting as Heathcliff himself, who is certainly not apathetic when it comes to exacting revenge or establishing his rights with Catherine. Heathcliff is the very personification of the extreme: He holds council with none, save Nelly, and that only once as a boy when he asks her to make him decent.

That moment aside, he trusts only his own inclinations, which are bigger than life itself and are the reason why he cannot be contented until he has left this life and gone on to the other side of the grave. His presence in this life, however, is meant to evoke a strong reaction in the audience, much in the same way a gargoyle would evoke a reaction in a gothic cathedral. Indeed, just as a gothic cathedral is vast and enormous, so too is the gothic genre: It depicts life with striking imagery and unapologetic extremes. What Bronte does, however, is utilize the exaggerated nature of the gothic to reveal certain truths about human nature—specifically, the fact that everyone is composed of good and bad parts, and that the more one is willing to control one’s baser passions, the better effect one can have on the world.

2. Wuthering Heights may be said to be of the genre of gothic realism. How is this so?

The novel is gothic in the sense that it fits all the demands of the genre: It includes intimations of the supernatural—the supposed ghost sightings; it includes tyrannical characters such as Hindley Earnshaw and Heathcliff; it includes elements of exaggerated passion, obsession, madness, and terror; its setting is typically gothic—an isolated, rural, and desolate...

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Essays About Wuthering Heights