AQA A Level English Literature. Wuthering Heights Context (AO3)

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  • Created on: 19-02-20 10:52
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  • Wuthering Heights Context (AO3)
    • Pseudonyms
      • Emily Bronte used "Ellis Bell" to concel her identity and so that she could get her work published
      • Women could not publish books at the time, so using male pseudonyms allowed the Brontes to do so
      • Charlotte and Anne used "Currer" and "Acton" Bell
      • Surname was probably taken from Charlotte's husband, Arthur Bell Nicholls, to legitimise their work
    • Victorian Life
      • very strict social conventions were a normality
      • Women had very few rights - reflected in Heathcliff and Isabella's marriage
        • Women could not divorce their husbands, nor could they choose whom they married
      • Women could not divorce their husbands, nor could they choose whom they married
      • Arranged marriage for money and social status was commonplace
      • At the time, nobody could believe that a woman wrote "Wuthering Heights", as the believed it was too scandalous for a woman to write
        • Some believe that Emily's brother Branwell wrote it, as it suits his outlook on life, and there are many parallels between him and Heathcliff
      • "Wuthering Heights" addresses Victorian issues such as slave trade, the evolving middle-class family, politics and class structures
        • Heathcliff could be the child of a gypsy slave labourer, Cathy's conflict between loving Heathcliff and marrying Edgar addresses class divides and money
      • Industrialisation forced more people into poverty and to live in slums
      • Women were not usually able to engage in protest writing in England
      • Life was increasingly urbanised and industrialised
        • WH provides an unusual insight into rural life through the eyes of an urbanised man
    • Religion
      • Almost everyone was Christian
      • The CoE and Catholic Church were still very popular
      • The Church imposed strict rules on working-class people
        • Divorce was disapproved of
        • Women who had sex before marriage were viewed as "fallen" and "sinful"
        • Hypocritical views - men of the Church sexually repressed women, but men could often do what they wished without repercussions
        • The social hierarchy was to be obeyed at all times
          • The Hierarchy was supposedly put in place by God
        • Middle and upper-class men often had the most sexual freedom, and often had mistresses
      • Some protested against the Church - William Blake with "London" and "The Garden of Love"
    • The Book
      • sold poorly when published and received bad reviews
      • Victorian readers found the book shocking and inappropriate in its depiction of passionate, ungoverned love and cruelty
      • Charlotte Bronte did not like it:“Whether it is right or advisable to create beings like Heathcliff, I do not know. I scarcely think it is.”
      • Mixture of Gothic and romanticism
      • Unsually dependent on characters
    • Emily Bronte
      • Born in 1818
      • Had an eccentric, closely-guarded life
      • Father was a church rector
      • Raised by a deeply religious aunt
      • wasn't very interested in religion
      • Lived in Haworth, a poor industrial village, with unlimited access to the moors, where WH is set
      • She died in 1848 at home on a sofa
    • The Bronte Children
      • Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, Anne
      • Very creative, made up intricate imaginary worlds which inspired their poetry, written in tiny books
      • Branwell was an alcoholic and died at home under the care of his father
        • Viewed as the gifted one in the family
      • Ther mother died when they were young, so they were brought up by their aunt
      • All eventually died, and their father outlived them all


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