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As readers we feel confused by the events of the first chapter. How does Bront achieve this and what is the effect?

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Introduction

As readers we feel confused by the events of the first chapter. How does Bront� achieve this and what is the effect? From the outset, Bront� creates an air of mystery in both the characters and setting that contributes to the confusion felt by the reader. Many of the ideas and symbols used in the first chapter of the book epitomise the technique utilised by Bront� throughout the novel. "Wuthering Heights" has been described as a 'Chaotic novel'1and many believe that it is intended to confuse and bewilder the reader. After reading the first chapter, the reader is confused about the situation and questions are left unanswered. We are unsure about many of the facts. We know the date is 1801 and that Lockwood is a tenant of Heathcliff's at Thrushcross Grange, but we are unaware of any of the characters' significance in the novel. We are introduced to the servant, Joseph, and briefly encounter Zillah, although we are not told her name. The reader is not informed of the relationships between any of the characters. Bront� purposefully keeps the facts ambiguous, which emphasises the feelings of confusion. Bront�'s tone and style is mysterious and foreboding from the beginning. In particular, the use of descriptions such as 'gaunt', 'defended', 'jutting', 'crumbling' and 'grotesque' add to the grim feel of the novel from the start and the seemingly impenetrable facade of the characters. ...read more.

Middle

Depiction of the novel, from modern films to old paintings inevitably includes the imagery of the moors and 'tumultuous sky and wild landscape.'2Even in the opening paragraphs, the connotations suggested by words such as 'wilderness' and 'jutting' suggest a feeling of defencelessness to the reader. The landscape and weather is portrayed as all-present, frequently reoccurring in metaphors and in the characters themselves, such as the 'stormy'3Catherine. The reader feels overpowered and confused by the depth of thought in the novel as a whole and the vagueness of the first chapter. 'Tumult', 'gaunt', 'crumbling' and 'craving' when used to describe the surroundings at Wuthering Heights, also, simultaneously describes the feeling of confusion and helplessness that the reader experiences at the beginning of the novel. The confusion and feeling of being trapped in the novel is likely to be directly linked to Bront�'s own confusion and withdrawal from the world. Many of the Gondal poems Emily wrote as an escape included situations in which characters were trapped, often in prisons from which they could only escape through the imagination. Scholars such as Mary Visack have noted a progression in Emily's work from the poems to the novel in this way. This poem by Bront� shows uses of nature and weather, as well as very powerful language, 'descending', 'drear', 'darkening', to describe the same feeling of loneliness and isolation depicted in Wuthering Heights. ...read more.

Conclusion

The violence hinted at with the dogs contrasts again with these styles and is a direct precursor to events later in the book. "Wuthering Heights" is an extremely well-structured novel, in which Bront� is able to control the readers thoughts and emotions to add to the powerful effect of the novel as a whole. In the first chapter, she is able to create an air of mystery, confusion and intrigue which is enhanced and expanded as the story unfolds. Still many critics find "Wuthering Heights" 'a preposterous text'5 that is 'back to front'and refuses to make sense by 'normal' standards. There are certainly many levels the book can be read and enjoyed on. However, I think the most profound message in the book's confusion is the affinity it creates between Bront� and the reader. This message is also mirrored later in the similarities between Bront�'s own character and Heathcliff's and the parallels drawn between Bront�'s own religious crisis and the character of Joseph. Essentially, "Wuthering Heights" is the only insight into the mysterious and reserved Emily Bront�. 1 Patsy Stoneman, Introduction to 'Wuthering Heights', Oxford University Press 2 Patsy Stoneman, Introduction to 'Wuthering Heights', Oxford University Press 3 Patsy Stoneman, Introduction to 'Wuthering Heights', Oxford University Press 4 Patsy Stoneman, Introduction to 'Wuthering Heights', Oxford University Press 5 Patricia Parker, 'The (Self)-Identity of the Literary Text' RACHEL HOLMES ...read more.

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