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Wuthering Heights as a Gothic Novel

Wuthering Heights is an eminent work by Emily Bronte which was written in the Victorian epoch of British literature. The concept of the novel is widely discussed until now. A huge range of writers who were contemporary to E. Bronte and lived after her admit that the novel is full of details and the ideas in it seem to predict the next period of world literature in the twentieth century. The novel is rich in particular themes for the discussion. However, among suggested themes, the gothic coloring of the novel is predominant in the paper. The thing is that the versatile manner of narrative in the novel is used by the author with the applicable mastership as of the characterization of it and peculiar approach of Emily Bronte in making a background for relationships between the characters more colored with dark and mysterious features of the gothic romance. However, the themes of love and conflict are imposed in the novel with particular points on the impeccable depiction of the details in it. Gothic motives in the novel Wuthering Heights make it more related to the Romantic rather than to the Victorian manner of writing.

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From first sight, the novel seems to maintain the features of the particular way of life widely shared by the aristocratic top of British people. The idea of it manifests the life of people in terms of the locality in Yorkshire County with its moors and peculiar climate full of constant rains and fog. A reader understands the description of this place as the picture of a late medieval castle among forbidding terrain. The gothic or even neo-gothic elements are apparent in Bronte’s featuring of the story and its peculiar way of description of the characters’ behaviors living in that place. The pressure of the walls and the urge for freedom in feelings are depicted in the story. Thereupon, the depiction of the protagonist, Heathcliff, is concerned with his desire to share the high feeling of love and understanding within the family of Earnshaw.

The author provides a wide scope of details about the characters and she masterly uses the stylistic devices for the abbreviation of the characters’ fates and their inner struggles. In this respect, the gothic elements are concerned widely with the notion of the moors surrounding the mansion where Earnshaws live. The central role of this element can be referred to as the dark features of the novel. The protagonist is fully concerned in the novel with the coldness and mysteriousness of the moors throughout Wuthering Heights. In fact, his relations with Catherine, Mr. Earnshow, and even with Hindley are associated with this element in the novel. Catherine in the very beginning of the story made some precaution remarks for Heathcliff, namely:

Do you know that you run a risk of being lost in the marshes? People familiar with these moors often miss their road on such evenings, and, I can tell you, there is no chance of a change at present (Bronte 16).

Nonetheless, even the name of the protagonist speaks about the darkness of the story and about his life doomed to be within moors, meaning the first part of his name heath. The gothic shape of the novel is also incorporated with the house where Earnshows live and the ghost-like character of it. Thus, the discussion between characters is provided on grounds of the so-called legend of Wuthering Heights and its pressure on the main motives of love, hatred, indifference, and priority of family values. Moreover, it is seen in the apt use of antonomasia, as a stylistic device for making more emphasis on the primordial role of characters in the novel. Heathcliff is the character that comprises in his name own destiny and the evaluation of his place among his related enemies.

Looking at the structure of the novel the development of actions is actually supposed from the very beginning with Catherine’s imprisonment by Mr. Heathcliff. This idea drives a reader to understand the same features in the gothic romance, when imprisonment, castles, and particular characters serve for the idea of making the whole concept of the story seem like it is supposed to be according to the gothic style.

One more thing which makes the story similar to the gothic romance is the terror which is indicated in it. First of all, terror is implied in the novel physically as well as psychologically. The imprisonment of Catherine is one side of the discussion. In this respect, a reader discovers her sufferings about the situation. Moreover, the theme is emphasized with the proper feelings of the characters according to this situation. Second, Catherine feels constant terror from the side of her father due to his detrimental attitude toward her. In this respect, there emerges the “generation gap” situation which is entirely unsolved among different generations in a definite family. Mr. Earnshaw and Catherine are diametrically opposite according to their views about life and people. The romantic nature of Catherine is limited by the family traditions and the supremacy of the father’s opinion. Thus, she is able solely to endure this negative feature of her life.

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Another detail related to the gothic style in the novel is the mystery. The mystery is seen everywhere throughout the novel. A reader may be excited by the facts which make the story so exciting. First of all, it concerns the structure of it, because the narration is composed in a circle of events which begin with present observation, past problems, and again features take place in the present. The difficult in some respects representation of characters’ relationships are also supposed with the mystery of Wuthering Heights:

I was cogitating what the mystery might be and determined Catherine should never suffer to benefit him or anyone else, by my goodwill; when hearing a rustle among the ling, I looked up and saw Mr. Heathcliff almost close upon us, descending the Heights (Brontė 289).

Mystery provides in a reader a piece of supposed from the very beginning hidden facts about the psyche of Heathcliff and other characters in relation to the place full of moors and fog. Thus, a horrific performance in the dark sceneries described by the author leads to concrete features of the novel. The mystery seems to make the conceptual performance of the story more applied to the outrageous reality of the intentions being incorporated in the main characters of the story. It is seen in the way of how Catherine seeks the place where she lived before, meaning her home. The tentative and too patterned with particular details and facts description of her barriers on the pathway to the silence and happiness of life promotes an additional outlook on the mysterious framework of the novel.

The ominous character of Mr. Heathcliff’s passion for Catherine is one of the features which support the idea of the gothic coloring of Wuthering Heights. Constant reasoning about possible escape does not leave Catherine when she is imprisoned. In this respect, the novel is full of evil and vices. It can be estimated as the description of how peoples’ passion or desires turn into extremes. This feature leaves a place for a reader to think and imagine over the picture of Catherine’s conditions for life while being imprisoned and her struggle due to the impacts of evil destiny. It all seems like madness to her, because she feels helpless about the situation with Mr. Heathcliff. On the other hand, a reader may feel the decay which is considered with the place of Wuthering Heights and its affection on people living there. A glimpse at the destination of this particular locality may be unintentionally supposed in a negative evaluation.

To sum up, Wuthering Heights is an outstanding work by one of the sisters Bronte, Emily, which is organized with features of the gothic romance. This idea is estimated and closely analyzed in the paper according to several points which maintain the concept of gothic novels. Particular sceneries, observation of characters’ destination from their names, terror, mystery, and evil are imposed in the plot of the story. Due to these details outlined in the story, a reader may simply compare it as the gothic narrative with an exciting description of somehow darkened and vague episodes in Wuthering Heights.

Works cited

Brontė, Emily. Wuthering Heights. Ed. 2. (Edited by Pearce, Joseph). San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2008.

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1. StudyCorgi. "Wuthering Heights as a Gothic Novel." November 7, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/wuthering-heights-as-a-gothic-novel/.


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StudyCorgi. "Wuthering Heights as a Gothic Novel." November 7, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/wuthering-heights-as-a-gothic-novel/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Wuthering Heights as a Gothic Novel." November 7, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/wuthering-heights-as-a-gothic-novel/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Wuthering Heights as a Gothic Novel'. 7 November.

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