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The Gothic Elements of Wuthering Heights

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Introduction

'The Gothic elements of Wuthering Heights are made credible by the novel's setting and narrators.' How far would you agree with this view? Some would argue that the novel's setting is particularly important in establishing the novels Gothic elements, in particular relations between past and present, the medieval and modernity. The contrast between the two houses, Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange, for instance, which has been seen as carrying such metaphysical significance, is not left a generalised level, but is grounded in specific details which reveal the time, place, and class of their opponents. The house at Wuthering Heights is a functional place, marked by dogs, guns and oatcakes which are part of a feudal agricultural economy, while Thrushcross Grange is a place of leisure, distinctly Victorian aristocratic, characterised by products of other people's labour - carpets, chandeliers, sweet cakes, and lap dogs. It is therefore possible to extract historical opposition between these two settings, with the Earnshaws, the yeomen farmers who work of the land, being replaced by the genteel way of the Lintons who live of their rents. ...read more.

Middle

This is not behaviour we would associate with the civilised man and so this adds credibility to Lockwood's experiences. Although Nelly is better informed her narrative does not dispel the uncanny instability of Lockwood's initial experiences. The geographical fixity of the novel, combined with its flash-back time structure, means that the past scenes which Nelly describes are superimposed on the scenes which we have already witnessed, in the very rooms which Lockwood had already described or where they now sit together. This doubleness is compounded by the fact that not only places, but names, survive the passing of generations, to be inhabited by later occupants. The name Hareton Earnshaw' in the inscription is now 'occupied' by another Hareton Earnshaw, just as Catherine leaves her name to be occupied by her daughter. The result of this duplication inherent in Nelly's narrative is also uncanny, since we expect people to have single identities which persist through time. The key Gothic themes of violence and revenge are for some critics made more implicit than explicit by the novels narrative structure. ...read more.

Conclusion

Consider again Faustus' quest for supernatural power and Frankenstein's quest for the secret of life. In this view, some critics have sought to make a comparison between this doomed quest and Cathy's idealised view of 'free love' in the novel. Her belief in her 'oneness' with Heathcliff makes her confident that he will not just understand her relationship with Edgar but 'comprehend (it) in his person - that is, incorporate it into himself. This dream cannot be realised however because her menfolk persist in what Carol Gilligan calls the masculine 'ethic of justice'. Edgar maintains the language of 'propriety' (i.e. ownership) and Heathcliff the language of revenge (i.e. expropriation) and ultimately Cathy's quest for mutual understanding ends in violence and death. While the setting, narration and narrative structure does indeed credibility to the Gothic elements; namely a sense of the uncanny horror and the an innate fascination with the past, these are not the only factors in the vivid sense of the Gothic in Wuthering Heights. In particular the novels characterisation is important for setting up the themes of taboo and sexual demarcation as well as setting up the novels dismal destination. ...read more.

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Parts of this essay read well and show textual knowledge. There is a clear structure. However, there are not enough specific references to the text to back ideas, nor does the essay start with a clear definition of terms. Knowledge is implied rather than stated.

Marked by teacher Roz Shipway 30/11/2013

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