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'The collision between the natural freedom of the moor and the artificial, contrived and cultural world of the Grange and Victorian Society in a wider sense causes chaos from the very outset of Wuthering heights.'

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Introduction

'The collision between the natural freedom of the moor and the artificial, contrived and cultural world of the Grange and Victorian Society in a wider sense causes chaos from the very outset of Wuthering heights.' To what extent do you feel that the opening portrays character's ideals set in opposition against one another? In Wuthering Heights, Bronte constantly plays nature and culture against each other. Nature is represented by the Earnshaw family, and by Catherine and Heathcliff in particular. These characters are governed by their passions, not by reflection or ideals of civility. Correspondingly, the house where they live, Wuthering Heights, comes to symbolize a similar wildness. On the other hand, Thrushcross Grange and the Linton family represent culture, refinement, convention and cultivation. The novel opens in 1801, a date Q.D Leavis believes Bronte chose "to fix its happenings at a time when the old rough farming culture based on a naturally patriarchal family life, was to be challenged, tamed and routed by social and cultural changes that were to produce the Victorian class consciousness and 'unnatural' ideal of gentility." ...read more.

Middle

no limitations and that in trying to keep her at Thrushcross grange, which symbolizes culture and refinement, they are preventing her from growing free. Edgar Linton believes Catherine should become more like the conventional Victorian Lady, thus trying to keep her within that unnatural sphere, described as a flower pot, and away from the savage Heathcliff. And so, clearly, the two characters and their ideals are at an irreversible conflict. However, we also see this conflict in Catherine herself. Firstly in chapter nine on her return from her stay at Thrushcross grange, "she bestowed seven or eight kisses on his cheek within the second, and, then, stopped and drawing back, burst into a laugh, exclaiming 'Why, how very black and cross you look! And how - how funny and grim! But that's because I'm used to Edgar and Isabella Linton" First we see her initial, natural wave of emotion for Heathcliff, before remembering herself and proceeding to act in a way fitting the young lady she has been moulded into. ...read more.

Conclusion

Thus, he represents both rapacious capitalism and the rejection of capitalist society. However, because the capitalist class is no longer revolutionary, it cannot provide expression for Heathcliff's rejection of society fir a pre-social freedom from society's restraints. From this impossibility comes what critics tend to refer to as Heathcliff's personal tragedy: his conflictive unity consisting of spiritual rejection and social integration. Heathcliff relentlessly pursues his goal of possessing Catherine, an obsession that is unaffected by social realities. In other words, the novel does not fully success in reconciling or finding a way to express all Heathcliff's meanings. With Heathcliff's death a richer life than that of Thrushcross grange also dies; even though our sympathies lie with the hero, we know his death is necessary; the future requires a fusion of gentry and capitalist middle class, not continued conflict. Only in death can Heathcliff or Catherine's own contradicting natures be satisfied and thus the rift between nature and culture that is a fundamental pillar of the novel can finally be put to rest. Charlie Matthews 08/05/2007 1 of 3 ...read more.

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