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How does the Victorian era link Wuthering Heights?

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Introduction

The Victorian Period is often thought of as a time where many new ideas emerged not only in the lives of the people, but also in literature. One such work, Wuthering Heights, created many controversies as well as questions regarding the lifestyles and ideals of the people during this time. Few books have been scrutinized as closely as Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. When the novel was first analyzed, critical opinion deemed the book immoral because of the many controversial issues indirectly addressed in the novel ("Wuthering Heights''). Emily Bronte, the author, was described as the free spirit within the Bronte family, who were all too familiar with literature. Her sister Charlotte, once described Emily to be "Stronger than a man, simpler than a child''. There were many conflicting influences that shaped the character and genius of Bronte. Patrick, her father, was of Irish decent and was known for his picturesque, free-flowing speech, poetry and imagination. Maria, her mother, was a strong Methodist woman, who was also an author. During her life, Maria published several essays, one entitled, ''the Advantages of Poverty in Religious Concerns.'' Bronte's mother died of cancer at a very early age, leaving her six children motherless. Another aspect of Bronte's personality can be seen in the uniqueness of the environment in which she was reared. She grew up in the small village of Haworth, which was isolated, much like the setting of Wuthering Heights, and this contributed to her freeness of spirit. ...read more.

Middle

Another thought evident in the story which can be considered to have religious bearing is the relationship Heathcliff has with his brother Hindley. The popular Biblical saying, "Love thy neighbour as thy self," is not one by which the two characters abide. From the day Mr. Earnshaw first brings Heathcliff home from Liverpool, Hindley harbours a deep animosity toward Heathcliff, not to mention the fact that many critics believe Heathcliff to be the illegitimate son of Mr. Earnshaw. During the time when this book was written, the act of being unfaithful to one's spouse was not acceptable, and this idea only adds to Hindley's resentment against Heathcliff. Many times throughout the novel, Bronte continues to provide references regarding religious connections, oftentimes alluding to supernatural existence. The issue goes way beyond the question of enjoying a summer day to become a definition of heaven. The two have different visions of life at its most intense or perfect. Linton, the boy, identifies with traditionally female qualities of passivity and quiescence, where as Cathy identifies with traditionally male qualities of activity and exertion ("Wuthering Heights"). This exemplifies the fact that allusions to religion not only characterize the qualities of the people within the novel, but they also gave Bronte an ingenious method to address indirectly the issues of morality and character traits. Not only is Wuthering Heights a powerful love story and a compelling tale of the supernatural, it also offers the reader insightful commentary on issues relating to class and morality. ...read more.

Conclusion

Catherine's death is a direct result of stress, which is caused by grief and agony she faces in her life. One might even go as far to say that love is what creates the loss in the lives of the Heathcliff and Edgar. Today, people often use the expression, "You can't live with them, and you can't live without them," when referring to the one they love, and this statement is also true in this story. Catherine surely finds life hard to live without Heathcliff, but, on the other hand, he ultimately contributes to the cause of her death. The novel Wuthering Heights not only addresses issues affecting the people during the time it was written, but also today the same issues have considerable bearing. Although criticism of the novel has changed over the course of time, so has public opinion on these issues. The unpopular issues such as, incest, marital affairs, and shallow relationships are seen indirectly through the eyes of the characters throughout Wuthering Heights. Many of the problems that used to be sequestered by society are now manifested. Through biographical information, it is evident that Emily Bronte lived an unusual life; this is what most likely contributed not only to the creation of Wuthering Heights but also to the other stories she wrote before her death. The ingenious insight Bronte used when addressing the issues of religion, questions and doubts, and love and loss, captures the attention of the reader and also causes him to analyze the tragic situations between the characters that create these issues. ...read more.

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