Complete Revision of Wuthering Heights

  • Created by: Alice
  • Created on: 02-02-15 19:56

Context of Wuthering Heights

American Revolution
- The common attempts to prevail over old, established money who maintain power over the common man
- Heathcliff aims to conquer two families of reputation and social standing

Spread of the rail line
- Allowed fast access to regions, such as the North and the Yorkshire moors, which had been previously undiscovered and were therefore considered to be wild and untamed. The Moorish wilderness was where Bronte was at her most liberated.
- Landscape imagery functions as a metaphor for human behaviour. Faces reflect landscapes. 

Population growth
- The population had doubled between the beginning of Bronte's time and a few years following her death
- The book foreshadows the influx of people moving into the unexplored regions. Serves as a warning?

- Anne, Charlotte, and Emily Bronte wrote under the names of Acton, Curren, and Ellis Bell, causing widespread hype and curiousity about their true identities
- Women were rarely taken seriously in writing hard-hitting literature, due to the crushing patriarchy at hand

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Context of Wuthering Heights

- Bronte led a sheltered life, which some have even labelled "hermit-like". She was at her happiest wandering on the moors.
- This isolation made her at one with nature and little else. Themes of nature are played upon in WH

- Consumption was the family illness. Emily suffered from how much it plagued her family; she too became a victim
- The theme of death stems from consumption. Death seems supernatural at times, yet this illness was very real

- Born with many siblings, the family was closely-knit and creative. Brantwell later spiralled out of control - like Heathcliff!
- Family ties are tested havily in the novel.

- Bronte's experience at the Clergy Daughters' School was traumatic.
- Formal education is invariably represented as an object of fear.

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Wuthering Heights' Layered Narration - Nelly

Nelly Dean is firstly a survivor of the tell: the narrator must survive to tell the retrospective tale. She carries an authority - stands out from majority of male 19th century narrators . Lockwood's arrival allows the story to be told in flashback. While Nelly is reporting the past, she is able to foreshadow the future, building suspense.

Nelly is ultimately hypocritical: she favours and disregards Edgar and Heathcliff, and works with and against Catherine. As readers, we are able to forgive her shortcomings, as she is a forthcoming narrator. Her attitude sways between approval and disapproval, depending on her mood.

An extraordinary, breathless energy - as if she is recounting events that happened merely an hour ago. The rapid excitement impression is reached through a focus on movement and gesture, action and reaction, with vehement dialogue, convinced by emphatic speech rhythms and plain language. 

ND is a character within the narrative, unlike Lockwood, so she can become too-involved in the action. She describes and treads a difficult path between romantic indulgence and moral rectitude while encouraging/discouraging relationships.

Language - colloquial, lively, verbatim dialogue, imaginative - brings vivid and precise detail. She is however limited - her conventional/religious/moral sentiments can prevent a greater understanding of character emotions or motives from arising.

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Wuthering Heights' Narration

Two obvious narrators - ND and Lockwood. Presented in the form of eye-witness accounts. Bronte does choose two narrators - one male, one female. ND outranks and dispossesses Lockwood, however. 

Multi-layered narration allows new stratums of the story to be revealed. Allows a continuous narrative despite huge time shifts. Voices are said to weave together to provide a choral narration. Bring multiple interpretations and readings to the novel; they speak to Lockwood initially, but the readers are a secondary audience also. 

ND's narrative is so dramatised, it feels like a tertiary narrative. Some of the T Narratives include: Heathcliff - C6, C29; Isabella - C13, C17; Cathy - C24; Zillah - C30. Allows drama and our perceptions to be constantly changing, presenting story directly.

Lockwood represents the reader, the outsider - drawn inside penetralium. Author is not involved - instead they must let us become recipients of Nellie's narrative, drawing us into the world of WH. Lockwood and Nelly could be construed merely as facilitators, allowing the reader to enter the world of WH. 

Past and present interact with each other, forming a close-knit, single drama without division. The reader is forced to read between the lines of what both narrators say, due to their lack of reliability and partiality. This is called the "not-said". We perceive the accounts given by the narrators as partisan and fuelled by ideology, so we are therefore reading what they cannot tell us. 

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Lockwood as a Narrator

Uses - elevated, literary language, detailed factual observation, perceptive comments. Complex sentences, multiple subordination, Latinate lexis, liberal use of punctuation - sophisticated lang.

He finds this world bewildering, hostile, as a city gentleman. Provides reader with introduction to 19th century. Format - personal diary. Style is self-conscious, facetious, allows ground for readers to be amused at his expense.

Allows description of character changes in novel, and also setting. 

He is the frame narrator with an intellectual and pedantic perception. Through this style, Bronte challenges narratology norms of her time. 

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Multi-layered narration

- Present Narrative - Lockwood

- Past Narrative - ND telling recounting events

Narrative external frame - Lockwood

Narrative internal frame - Nelly

Heavy use of dialogue - dynamic characters

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