Wuthering Heights: Romanticism.

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European History – Grade 10B

Wuthering Heights: Romanticism

The late eighteenth century saw the beginning of the romantic era, an artistic and intellectual movement.  This period, shaped by political and social events such as the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, was a change from the earlier classical era of order and proportion.  Such profound themes as nature, emotion, originality, and self-expression, began to influence different pieces of art and many works of writing.  Authors produced literature that reflected this wild and free-spirited imagination, and their works dismissed the Enlightenment thinkers in their claims of reason, progress and universal truths.  These writers, such as Emily and Charlotte Bronte, delved into worlds of superstition, the wild, the unfamiliar, the irregular and the dangerous.  Other common elements involved in their works, included a renewed interest in Gothic romance elements, which explored the passionate dark sides of man.   Wuthering Heights, written by Emily Bronte, is a novel of beautiful and mysterious nature, the supernatural, and extreme emotion, assembling one of the greatest Gothic novels of the late Romantic era.  

        Nature, according to the Enlightenment philosopher Rousseau, was a source of inspiration and emotion, both stunning and mystifying.  Authors of the late 18th century often described nature by intertwining deep words with memorable images.  Wuthering Heights, a novel that takes place in the moors of England, is especially noted for it’s reflective and brilliant references to the natural world.  Bronte sets the theme of the dark and romantic story, with vivid descriptions of mist covered hills and damp grounds, creating a perfect setting and super naturalistic feel for the novel.

        Connections to nature in the novel Wuthering Heights, are seen even in its name, which is appropriate for the estate in which the story takes place, as winds rip across their barren fields making it impossible for trees to live on, and these same winds bring bad storms several times of the year.  Lockwood, narrator of the earliest part of the story, describes wuthering as, “descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather (pg. 2).”  Throughout the novel, Bronte methodically and artistically adjusts the natural settings to the mood of the characters and their feelings.  When Heathcliff leaves Wuthering Heights and a distraught Catherine behind, “the growling thunder, and the great drops began to plash around her…and about midnight, while we still sat up, the storm came rattling over the Heights in full fury.  There was violent wind, as well as thunder…(pg. 75).”  On the opposite side of this extreme spectrum comes the rare moments of beauty that set on Wuthering Heights and its general estate.  One of these moments occurs after Catherine is finally healed and set free from her nearly fatal fever, “the sky is blue, and the larks are singing, and the becks and brooks are all brim full (pg. 118).”  In a world where characters are subjected to terrible times and wonderful times, Emily Bronte manipulates the theme of nature to her will, and allows the interaction between man and nature to take place in an incredible display of strength, character, and force in a material world and its phenomena.  

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        The supernatural is another one of the many aspects of literature that is associated with romantic novels.  Romantic philosophers often believed that the world is not fixed, and that humans are indeed able to create the world in which they live in.  The supernatural is a theme that greatly appealed to American Dark Romanticism and British Gothic Romances, such as Wuthering Heights.   Romanticism was not only the genre of enchanted dreams, vivid nature, and inspired visions, but also of superstitions and spells, delusions and nightmares.

The supernatural haunts Lockwood on his first night at Wuthering Heights, along with ...

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