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Heathcliff: Found wandering on the streets of Liverpool by Mr. Earnshaw, who then takes the child of about seven or eight home with him. Heathcliff is treated with favoritism by Mr. Earnshaw, provoking hatred of Heathcliff from Earnshaw’s eldest son, Hindley. This hatred results in Heathcliff’s ill treatment and demotion to servant by Hindley after Mr. Earnshaw’s death. This ill Ill treatment, and lack of education turn Heathcliff’s already moody temperament to evil, and the beginning of the novel chronicles Heathcliff’s descent into villainy. Although Heathcliff’s origin is never clear, he is described throughout as ‘dark’ and a ‘gypsy.’ These distinctions, coupled with his lack of manners or regard for others, make Heathcliff a societal misfit with no clear place, and someone who could would have been viewed in Victorian times as an ‘other‘Other.’

"He is a dark-skinned gypsy in aspect, in dress and manners a gentlemen- that is, as much a gentlemen as many a country squire: rather slovenly, perhaps, yet not looking amiss, with his negligence, because he has an erect and handsome figure- and rather morose- possibly some people might suspect him of a degree of under-bred pride" (5).

Catherine (Cathy) Earnshaw (later Linton): The only daughter of the Earnshaw household, and close in age to Heathcliff. As the daughter of landed gentry she has a clear place in society, and as such is later schooled in ‘polite behavior’ by the Lintons. Throughout the novel she is described as ‘headstrong,’ ‘passionate,’ haughty,’ and ‘wicked.’ Catherine is characterized as having little regard for the feelings of others, and as being accustomed to having her own way. The violent and passionate side of her nature clashes with her place in society, and with the schooling she has had with the Lintons. These dual traits in her character, and her headstrong selfishness, put her at odds with the ideals of the Victorian age, and identify her with feminism, and later with the ‘New Women.’

"Her spirits were always at high-water mark, her tongue always going- singing, laughing, and plaguing everybody who would not do the same. A wild, wick slip she was- but, she had the bonniest eye, and sweetest smile, and lightest foot in the parish; and, after all, I believe she meant no harm; for when once she made you cry in good earnest, it seldom happened that she would not keep you company, and oblige you to be quiet that you might comfort her" (42).

Ellen Dean (Nelly): A servant first of the Earnshaw household, then of the Linton. Nelly was raised with Heathcliff, Catherine, and Hindley Earnshaw, and seemed to enjoy the position of both their servant and playmate. Indeed, when she grew up, she served the dual role of servant and adviser/confidant for several other characters. Nelly is the principle narrator of the novel, as she tells telling the story to Mr. Lockwood, and it is through her eyes that we see the other characters. She is portrayed as wiser and more well educated that the normal servant of the day, and thus, as with several other characters, her place in society is nebulous.

"She was not a gossip, I feared, unless about her own affairs, and those could hardly interest me" (33).

Mr. Lockwood: The narrator of the frame tale. Lockwood meets Heathcliff, Hareton, and young Catherine when he moves into Thrushcross Grange as a tenant, and it is to him that Nelly tells the story of the events twenty years previous. Lockwood is a self-proclaimed misanthrope while who contradictorily claiming claims to be easily smitten, and seeking seeks the company of his inhospitable neighbors frequently, presenting the problem of whether he lacks self-awareness, or is merely a picture of societal norms, so unlike many other characters in the novel.

"By this curious turn of disposition I have gained the reputation of deliberate heartlessness, how undeserved, I alone can appreciate" (6).

Young Catherine Linton (later Heathcliff): The daughter of Catherine and Edgar Linton, born on the night her mother died. Catherine is raised in a very sheltered fashion by her father and Ellen Dean. In her teen years she meets Linton Heathcliff, and is forced to marry him by his father. On her young husband’s almost immediate decease, she is forced to continue residing at Wuthering Heights, where she eventually develops a relationship with Hareton Earnshaw, and subsequently announces her intention to marry him. Formally, Catherine can be seen as an echo of her mother, who, through a more selfless character, as well as chance, avoids the same fate, and marries her true counterpart.

"She was slender, and apparently scarcely past girlhood: an admirable form, and the most exquisite little face that I have ever had the pleasure of beholding: small features, very fair; flaxen ringlets, or rather golden, hanging loose on her delicate neck; and eyes- had they been agreeable in expression, they would have been irresistible" (11).

Edgar Linton: Grew up in at Thrushcross Grange, the estate neighboring Wuthering Heights, Thrushcross Grange, courted, and married Catherine Earnshaw, and fathered her daughter, young Catherine. Edgar represents a member of the civilized, Victorian society; polite, educated, refined, and lacking in fiery temper. He is Heathcliff’s direct opposite, and, with his wealth and standing, the socially correct choice for Catherine’s spouse.

"Mrs. Dean raised the candle, and I discerned a soft featured face. . .pensive and amiable in expression. It formed a sweet picture. the The long light hair curled slightly on the temples; the eyes were large and serious; the figure almost too graceful. I did not marvel how Catherine Earnshaw could forget her first friend for such an individual. I marvelled much how he, with a mind to correspond with his person, could fancy my idea of Catherine Earnshaw."

Isabella Linton (later Heathcliff): The younger sister of Edgar, who develops a fatal attraction to Heathcliff, and eventually marries him. She soon regrets her choice and runs away, dying some years later, far away from home. Isabella, like Edgar, represents the civilized Victorian society that the Earnshaws should be a part of. Her attraction to, and marriage with Heathcliff displays the realistically bad results attending attraction to a Byronic hero.

"We had all remarked, during some time, that Miss Linton fretted and pined over something. She grew cross and wearisome, snapping at and teazing teasing Catherine, continually, at the imminent risk of exhausting her limited patience. We excused her to a certain extent, on the plea of ill health- she was dwindling and fading before our eyes" (101).

Hindley Earnshaw: The brother of Catherine Earnshaw, and the father of Hareton. Hindley hates Heathcliff, and, on the death of Mr.Earnshaw, forcibly demotes him to the status of servant. Heathcliff later repays Hindley for his injustice by winning all of his possessions through gamboling. Hindley dies young, a drunken wreck of a man, deprived of his inheritance, driven to a status lower than that at which he was born by the man whose status he had hoped to ruin forever.

"Hindley was naught, and would never thrive as where he wandered."

Hareton Earnshaw: The son of Hindley Earnshaw, raised primarily by Heathcliff. As a spite to Hareton's parentfather, Heathcliff deliberately raises Hareton in ignorance and ignominy. Hareton remains in this state until he meets Catherine Linton, who awakens his in him a desire for learning. His natural goodness and intelligence then unite to improve his character, and at the end of the novel, his and Catherine's engagement has been announced.

"I began to doubt whether he were a servant or not:his dress and speech were both rude, entirely devoid of the superiority observable in Mr. and Mrs. Heathcliff; his thick, brown curls were rough and uncultivated, his whiskers encroached bearishly over his cheeks, and his hands were embrowned like those of the common laborer; still his bearing was free, almost haughty, and he showed none of a domestic's assiduity in attending on the lady of the house."

Linton Heathcliff: The son of Heathcliff and Isabella Linton. Linton, a sickly, delicate boy, is raised by his mother until her death, at which time he falls under his father's care, where he stays throughout his teen years , and until his death before the age of twenty. Because of ill treatment and sickness, Linton becomes quarrelsome and self-centered. Towards the end of his life, he is forced by his father to marry his cousin, Catherine Linton, and it is while under her care that he dies.

"Linton's looks and movements were very languid, and his form extremely slight; but there was a grace in his manner that mitigated these defects, and rendered him not unpleasing."


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Character tree from Wikimedia Commons
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Unless otherwise noted, all textual excerpts refer to: Wuthering Heights. London: Penguin Classics, 1995. Print.
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Family vs. Outsiders: How does the history of two families and an outsider who tries to reconstruct that history complicate the novel?

Heathcliff is positioned at odds with members of the Earnshaw family and the world around him. This conflict arises from several sources: first, the dark and ‘gypsy-like’ aspect of Heathcliff’s countenance sets him apart from those around him. Then, in a world where family and name matter immensely, Heathcliff essentially has no name or family to speak of. He also initially has no land, placing him distinctly in another class, and apart from the landed gentry. All of these things place him at odds with the family and society around him. The second conflict between family and outsiders, however, is the conflict between the characters of Catherine and Heathcliff, and the radically different Lintons. Although Catherine is ostensibly from the same place in society as the Lintons, she is much more like Heathcliff than like them, a fact which initially placing places the two of them at odds with the Lintons. Heathcliff speaks to Nelly o of his and Cathy's first encounter with the Linton's noting, “Both of us were able to look in by standing on the basement and clinging to the ledge, and we saw-ah! it was beautiful-a splendid place carpeted with crimson.... Edgar and his sister had it entirely to themselves.... Isabella.... lay screaming at the farther end of the room, shrieking. . .Edgar stood on the hearth weeping silently, and in the middle of the table sat a little dog, shaking its paw and yelping, which, from their mutual accusations, we understood they had nearly pulled in two between them. . .We laughed outright at the petted things; we did despise them! When would you catch me wishing to have what Catherine wanted? or find us by ourselves, seeking entertainment in yelling, and sobbing, and rolling on the ground, divided by the whole room?" (48).

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Does the novel side with societal norms or with simple human connection (s)?
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How does the novel characterize Cathy and Heathcliff's relationship in contrast with Cathy's friendship with the Lintons?
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Does Heathcliff's change in fortune make him less of an 'outsider'? Why or why not? Does this change intensify, or abate his conflict with the world around him?


Religion vs. Supernatural: What is real and what is imagined in Wuthering Heights?

The character Joseph is the religious figure of the novel, always reciting from the Bible and damning the other character to hell for their sinful acts. If one argued that this was a religious novel, then Heathcliff is most likely the evil spirit or even the devil, that was how he was first described to the reader, “you must e’en take it as a gift of God; though it’s as dark almost as if it came from the devil” (36) Yet, there seems to be more influence of superstitions over the people then religious doctrines. The novel has supernatural occurrences of ghosts changing religious ideas of the afterlife, Heathcliff even asked Cathy to haunt him before her death, “Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest, as long as I am living! You said I killed you – haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murderers. I believe – I know that ghosts have wondered on earth” (169). In this quote, we see that Heathcliff’s about the afterlife are not that of Judeo-Christian ideas, they are more based in spiritual/ supernatural understandings. This struggle between Christian beliefs and superstitions of the supernatural continue throughout the novel.

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What other characters in the novel struggle between religious beliefs and supernatural beliefs?
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Confinement: How is physical confinement portrayed in Wuthering Heights?

Wuthering Heights opens up to a scene of physical confinement, as Lockwood is at the mercy of Heathcliff and his eerie domicile. Even the darkness of the night emphasizes the dismal quality of the Grange, “It was so dark that I could not see the means of exit” (17). His options extremely limited, Lockwood surrenders to recovering at the Grange, “I was sick exceedingly, and dizzy and faint; and thus compelled, perforce, to accept lodgings under (Heathcliff’s) roof” (18). The use of “compelled” and “perforce” emphasizes his lack of control. Furthermore, Lockwood is taken to Catherine Earnshaw’s old bedroom and upon locating the bed he notes, “In fact, it formed a little closet, and the ledge of a window, which it enclosed, served as a table” (19). This places him within several layers of confinement- a home seething with conflict, a forbidden bedroom shrouded by mystery, and an enclosed bed that offers Lockwood security “against the vigilance of Heathcliff, and everyone else” (19). When he awakes from a nightmare to the sound of a branch against the window, Lockwood attempts to break off the branch by forcing his hand through the glass but to only be met with “the fingers of a little, ice-cold hand” (25). The ghost of Catherine clings on to his arm and pleads, “’Let me in- let me in’”, to which Lockwood responds, “’Let me go, if you want me to let you in!’” (25) While Lockwood appears captive within the walls of the Heights, Catherine is left wandering the moors (as a spirit) for twenty years while searching for a way to be let in. Moreover, Catherine’s lack of freedom is painfully obvious, as confinement essentially defines the course of her life. In childhood, she alternates between the constraint of the Heights and the freedom of the moors. The moors present an opportunity to escape Hindley’s oppressiveness, as Nelly admits, “it was one of (Catherine and Heathcliff’s) chief amusements to run away to the moors in the morning and remain there all day” (46). On their first visit to Thrushcross Grange, Catherine and Heathcliff are in awe of the freedom Edgar and Isabella seem to possess. However, when Catherine is bit by the Lintons’ dog, she is restricted by her injury to a couch at the Grange, further perpetuating her physical confinement. Her choice in husband confines her to gentility of Thrushcross Grange, from which she can only escape by death.

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How is mental and societal confinement represented in the novel?
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What are some cases of self-imposed confinement presented in Wuthering Heights?


Human Nature: Savage vs Civilized

The characters in Wuthering Heights, although different, fall into two distinct categories of human nature. The Earnshaws are savage, some more than others, whereas the Linton’s are civilized. The Earnshaws are wild and passionate. Catherine is the most savage in the family although Hindley isn’t close behind with his vengefulness and alcoholism. Even their father had a spirited nature. Nelly is an interesting part of this family because it isn’t clear whether she falls into the savage or civilized grouping since she exhibits both at certain times in the novel. Heathcliff is undoubtedly the most savage person in the novel, along with Catherine (since they are supposedly the same soul). This wildness is untamed and impossible to contain, which causes a great deal of strife in the novel. The Lintons, however, are everything a British family of class in this time period should be. They are well mannered, civilized, and even snobbish at times, if not boring. The contrast between the two families and their human natures creates a tense atmosphere in the novel, especially once Catherine begins trying to fit into the civilized nature even though she is undoubtedly born of the savage.



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What do the two human natures in the work tell you about human nature? How do theses two affect the way the novel functions? What is Bronte trying to convey with these two vastly different families? 

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Would Catherine be as passionate if Heathcliff had never come to Wuthering Heights? What would have happened if he never met her? 

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 What role does suppression play in the novel? Why does Catherine suppress her true nature to try and become civilized? What does that say about human nature in general?

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Many people tend to have strong reactions the this work. Why do you think that is? What reaction did you have to the novel and does that shed any light on your human nature? 

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Wuthering Heights Photograph from Wylio.

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Unless otherwise noted, all textual excerpts refer to: Wuthering Heights. London: Penguin Classics, 1995. Print.
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"Disturbed her? No! she has disturbed me, night and day, through eighteen years-incessantly-remorselessly-till yesternight; and yesternight I was tranquil. I dreamt I was sleeping the last sleep by that sleeper, with my heart stopped and my cheek frozen against hers" (289).

  • This quote pulls together several themes from the novel. First the themes of ghosts, and unquiet spirits: , and the idea here is that Catherine and Heathcliff have mutually stormy and unquiet spirits. Throughout the novel, whenever they are separated, neither is completely calm or happy, and thus when they are separated by death, the result is the same, and both the living and the dead are tormented. Because of this, the quote implies, Catherine’s ghost has haunted Heathcliff and Wuthering Heights since her death - an idea that draws together the aforementioned idea of mere unquiet spirits, and the idea, hinted at throughout the novel, that ghosts exist, and haunt the living.
    Then, with ‘incessantly-remorselessly,’ the quote speaks of the incredibly close, and yet stormy relationship between Heathcliff and Cathy. Although they are never completely happy apart, when they are together Cathy's impetuosity and Heathcliff's dour stolidity often place them at odds.
    Finally, however, the quote hints, as indeed the whole book does, that perhaps Heathcliff and Cathy are made of the same stuff and destined for the same fate, despite everything else. Perhaps these two mutually stormy and unquiet spirits cannot be calmed until they are together eternally, and quieted with death.

"He wanted all to lie in an ecstasy of peace; I wanted all to sparkle and dance in a glorious jubilee. I said his heaven would be only half alive; and he said mine would be drunk: I said I should fall asleep in his; and he said he could not breathe in mine..." (248).

  • This is spoken by Catherine (the second generation) and she is speaking to Nelly about her and Linton Heathcliff’s different ideas of heaven. This quote, I believe, sheds light on the conflicting ideas of what love should be, within the novel. Should love be about passion and exuberance, or should love be more tranquil and peaceful? These two ideas of love are always tested within the novel, can both these types be true love or is one a more meaningful, a more powerful love then the other? Also I think this shows that both of these types of heavens ‘loves’ can’t coexist with one another, one will feel bored while the other feels it is suffocating. This gives the reader the idea that these two people could not be together because their ideas of heaven ‘love’ do not coincide, showing that they are not meant to be together.

"And I pray one prayer-I repeat it till my tongue stiffens- Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest, as long as I am living! You said I killed you- haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murderers. I believe- I know that ghosts have wandered on Earth. Be with me always- take any form- drive me mad! Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! It is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!” (169).

  • This quote helps to summarize Catherine and Heathcliff’s relationship throughout the novel. They love, and sometimes hate, each other so much that they cannot bear to be parted, even in death. Heathcliff would rather curse her soul to roam Earth as a spirit than to live on Earth without her there in some form. It also highlights how destructive their love is by referring to Heathcliff as Catherine’s murderer.

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Heathcliff photograph from Wylio.
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Unless otherwise noted, all textual excerpts refer to: Wuthering Heights. London: Penguin Classics, 1995. Print.
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Classifying _Wuthering Heights_
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Wuthering Heights as Gothic Fiction:
Gothic fiction as a genre came into being in the 1760's and became extremely popular in the 1790's. Although often considered to be sensationalist, the genre has been characterized as a repository of the fears and uncertainties of the societies that consumed it. Popular Gothic themes are: the supernatural, the uncanny (or unheimlich, in the original German), horror/terror, and the imprisonment or plight of a young heroine, or alternately , the fate of a 'fallen woman.'

"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!'"

Wuthering Heights presents many of the themes mentioned above, including a preoccupation with the supernatural (presenting ghosts, demonic characterizationcharacterizations, etc.), horror/terror (Lockwood's dream of the ghostly Catherine, and any dealings with corpses), and the imprisonment of a young heroine, supplied by (young Catherine, who is held prisoner and forced to marry Linton by Heathcliff). In addition, the overarching distrust and fear of Heathcliff as an "Other" speaks to the societal fear in the Victorian age of anything "unnatural" or "other."

Wuthering Heights as the Romantic Novel:

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Adams, Ruth M. “Wuthering Heights: The Land East of Eden”. Nineteenth-Century Fiction. 13.1 (1958): 58-62. Click to read

In this essay the author compares Wuthering Heights to the land east of Eden where Cain and his family dwell. This story is found in Genesis and is a place where morals have no real place and nothing is what it should be. The author goes on to explain that much like the land east of Eden, Wuthering Heights contaminates outsiders with vindictiveness and jealousy.  The essay helps show the morality of the characters and why that is important to the work as a whole. 

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Berlinger, Manette. “’I am Heathcliff’: Lockwood’s Role in Wuthering Heights.” Bronte Studies 35.3 (2010): 185-193.ingentaconnect. Web. 1 April 2011. Click to Read

This article posits an odd connection of twinship between Lockwood and Heathcliff. Although Lockwood has traditionally been looked on as quite different from Heathcliff (despite the former’s avowal that they are alike), Berlinger points out that the entire novel is made up of opposites who are nevertheless somehow connected. She furthermore advances the idea that Heathcliff’s and Lockwood’s personal journeys parallel each other, even while they display the differences of the two characters.

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Carroll, Joseph. "The Cuckoo's History: Human Nature in Wuthering Heights." Philosophy and Literature 32.2 (2008): 241-257. Project MUSE. Web. 30 March 2011. Click to Read

This article looks at the novel from the perspective of human nature, both the traditional idea of natural human interaction, and the Darwinian idea. The article posits that Heathcliff and Cathy are antithetical to traditional ideas of human interaction and nature, and that Heathcliff, as an ethical other, presents a threat to the familial hierarchy present in the world of Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights. In the plot of the novel, this the tragic tale of Heathcliff and Cathy, which disrupts of which disrupts human nature, must be resolved through the romantic comedy ending of the second part, the article says, turning to theatrical form to describe the novel’s two sections.

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Dellamora, Richard. “Earnshaw’s Neightbor/Catherine’s Friend: Ethical Contingencies in Wuthering Heights.” ELH 74.3 (2007): 535-555. Project MUSE. Web. 31 March 2011. Click to read

This article looks at the novel from an ethical and human perspective, concentrating on Mr. Earnshaw’s dubious adoption of Heathcliff, and Catherine’s friendship with the same. The article posits that while Mr. Earnshaw was doing his ‘neighborly duty’ (‘love thy neighbor’) by Heathcliff, it essentially backfired on him, because Heathcliff was too different, and was not fully accepted into the inheritance of the Earnshaw’sEarnshaws. In fact, the article posits that Heathcliff has the status of a sort of slave, a status which reverses itself, and the slave becomes becoming a negative influence on the master and his family. Similarly, the article talks about Catherine and Heathcliff’s friendship, and how Catherine betrays Heathcliff and drives him to villainy by assuming he will not be able to fend for himself or support her.

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 Hafley, James. “The Villain in Wuthering Heights”. Nineteenth-Century Fiction, 13.3 (1958): 199-215. Click to read

This essay takes the position that the true villain in the novel is Nelly, the narrator, and supplies evidence to support its thesis. He explains that by misunderstanding who the villain of the work is causes the reader to miss the entire point on the novel. It sheds light on the roles each character plays in the novel and also why those roles are vital to the meaning on the novel. 

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 Jaret McKinstry, Susan. “Desire’s Dreams: Power and Passion in ‘Wuthering Heights’”. College Literature, 12.2 (1985):141-146. Click to read

This essay takes an extremely interesting take on the novel, viewing the main characters as children. The author strips down their motives and desires and explains them in a way that pitches childhood against adulthood and romantic love against social acceptance. The writer takes the stance that the main point of the novel is that love and desire, to these characters, are worth dying for and are of the utmost importance. 

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Rena-Dozier, Emily. "Gothic Criticisms: Wuthering Heights and Nineteenth-Century Literary History." ELH 77.3 (2010): 757-775. Project MUSE. Web. 30 March 2011. Click to read

This article notes that nineteenth century literary critics were profoundly uneasy about Wuthering Heights, and that, although the novel is more frequently discussed today, recent critics still are unsure of what to do with it. The article posits that Wuthering Heights is a reaction to this uneasiness about certain forms, and that the novel combines and fleshes out the two genres popular at the time of its creation; domestic the Domestic and gothicthe Gothic. The article claims that the novel brings out the dark roots of the domestic, and that its narrative intricacies parallel the narrative intricacies in the literary critiques of Emily Bronte and her novel.

ADD- Links to Emily's poetry/diaries entries/letters, etc
Add self made quiz!!!!


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