Wuthering Heights Romanticism Essay

Do we read Emily Bronte's famous novel Wuthering Heights as reflective of a Romantic text or reflective of Victorian literature? I would argue that it can be read with elements of both - where the two worlds collide. It is a novel that falls between Romanticism and Victorianism in an attempt to bring the two successive literary periods together. Romanticism, according to levity.com, incorporates the themes of "nature, the lure of the exotic, the supernatural, and decline of the tradition." We see all of these elements in Wuthering heights.

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Nature reflects human emotion, the attraction between Catherine and heathcliff is exotic, the ghost of Catherine is the supernatural, and the decline of tradition is the mixing of the classes and the rise of the underdog (Heathcliff). "Walter Pater saw in Wuthering Heights the characteristic spirit of romanticism, particularly in 'the figures of Hareton Earnshaw, of Catherine Linton, and of Heathcliff-tearing open Catherine's grave, removing one side of her coffin, that he may really lie beside her in death-figures so passionate, yet woven on a background of delicately beautiful, moorland scenery, being typical examples of that spirit' (Emily).

"More than anything else what makes Victorians Victorian is their sense of social responsibility, a basic attitude that obviously differentiates them from their immediate predecessors, the Romantics" (Landow). In this sense, the novel could be considered Victorian. The Linton family exemplifies this trait. When Heathcliff comes back to visit, Catherine's husband Edgar degrades her welcoming him, "The whole household need not witness the sight of your welcoming a runaway servant as a brother" (Bronte 95). Clearly, the novel favors the Romantic Movement more.

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Wuthering Heights is filled with different examples of the Romantic Movements. Heathcliff is an exceptionally difficult character to analyze because he displays numerous altered personalities. This raises the question: which Romantic Movement was most common in Wuthering Heights? An analysis of Wuthering Heights reveals the most common Romantic Movement in the text: Romanticism. Romanticism is based upon the ideas of subjectivity, inspiration and the primacy of the individual. Various examples of these from the text are when Heathcliff has Catherine’s grave excavated, the repeated possibility of supernatural beings, and the love from the past that is seen from Heathcliff and Catherine. At one point in the text, readers picture…show more content…

Another perception from the same quotation is how Catherine had this longing for Heathcliff. Throughout the text Catherine is known to manipulate the men in her life. One of the most powerful manipulations visited is when Heathcliff and Edgar were just seconds away from sparring but with one look from Catherine, Heathcliff retreated. She manipulated Edgar because while he saw this dreadful side to her, he continued to love her. Catherine surely wanted to be with Heathcliff and there is no doubt that since she wasn’t able to spend her life with him, she would unquestionably consider the afterlife. The next example of Romanticism is the reoccurring possibility of supernatural beings. The first example of a supernatural being is when Edgar believed he had encountered Catherine’s ghost when spending the night at Wuthering Heights. The intense horror of nightmare came over me: I tried to draw back my arm, but the hand clung to it, and a most melancholy voice sobbed, 'Let me in - let me in!' 'Who are you?' I asked, struggling, meanwhile, to disengage myself. 'Catherine Linton,' it replied, shiveringly (why did I think of Linton? I had read Earnshaw twenty times for Linton) - 'I'm come home: I'd lost my way on the moor!' As it spoke, I discerned, obscurely, a child's face looking through the window. (Brontë 25)
He was convinced that he saw Catherine that night. This “encounter”


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