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EMILY BRONTE & WUTHERING HEIGHTS Introductory lecture Overview: Emily Bronte s (EB) Life and Background Romanticism & EB Genre Themes Her Birth Emily Bronte (EB ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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  • Introductory lecture

  • Emily Brontes (EB) Life and Background
  • Romanticism EB
  • Genre
  • Themes

Her Birth
  • Emily Bronte (EB) was born on 30 July 1818 in the
    village of Thornton some miles to the West of
    Bradford in Yorkshire where her father Patrick
    was curate/rector.
  • She was the 5th of 6 children all brilliantly

Her Father
  • Her father Patrick was a Church of England
    clergyman who had emigrated from Ireland.
  • The oldest son of an Irish labourer, he had to
    struggle very hard to educate himself.
  • Entered Cambridge (St Johns College) to read
    theology and became a gentleman.

Her Father
  • He married a well-to-do woman Maria Branwell from
    Cornwall in 1812 and who died after 9 yrs from a
    long and agonizing cancer, 1 year after the birth
    of her youngest child Anne
  • He was never rich as curate but made a reasonable
    living as permanent curate in Haworth.

Haunted by family tragedy
  • Mothers early death she was just a toddler
  • Her 2 oldest sisters Maria and Elizabeth were to
    die in their childhood too
  • Her only brother Branwell was to dissipate his
    talents and die with all his bright promise come
    to naught.
  • gt resp for sense of grim fatalism and acceptance
    of tragedy in life in her novel.

Fathers influence
  • His rapid rise to the status of gentleman albeit
    poor man in an age of still rigid social
    divisions was nothing short of miraculous
  • gt his daughters sensitivity to social status
    and their ambition perseverance in pursuing a
    writing career.

Fathers influence
  • he was also a published if unsuccessful writer
  • he had written poems and short tales 5 volumes
    in all.
  • gt may have influenced his childrens literary

Fathers influence
  • He was largely self-taught and was in the habit
    of developing his intellect in isolation (a trait
    his children shared).
  • he subscribed to and borrowed an unusual number
    of newspapers and periodicals which undoubtedly
    enriched the cultural lives of his children.
  • gtthe Bronte children were better informed about
    current events then many of their more
    conventionally educated contemporaries.

Fathers influence
  • He belonged to the evangelical strain of the
    Anglican church (low church)
  • The evangelical or low church Anglican movement
    believed in mans sinfulness and need for
    redemption through a personal communion with God
    enabled by studying the infallible Holy
  • gt influence on how his children viewed religion.

Her Life
  • He was a typical Victorian father that left the
    household in the hands of his sister-in-law who
    was tasked to look after the children.
  • His neglect meant the children were left to their
    own resources from infancy and were largely
  • They formed deep emotional ties with each other
    and created a world of imagination that was far
    real to them than any outside world could be.
  • Raised in Spartan simplicity becos of their
    poverty, they found excitement and novelty in a
    world of ideas, not things.

Her education
  • They were educated at home until 1824 when they
    (girls) were sent to Cowan Bridge School a
    charity institution founded by a wealthy
    clergyman William Carus Wilson. Emily at age 6
    was the youngest to be enrolled there.
  • The institution was poorly run and funded. Food
    was inedible and scarce and the school was
    situated in an unhealthy area with poor sanitary
  • When a typhus epidemic hit, Maria and Elizabeth
    contracted tuberculosis and the girls were sent
    home. Charlotte and Emily survived but the 2
    older girls died within months of returning.

Roe Head School
  • In 1835, Emily followed Charlotte to Roe Head
    School boarding school for girls where her
    sister worked as a teacher.
  • Emily suffered as she was miserable away from
    home. At school she had to rein in her
    imagination and behave like a lady and follow a
  • Liberty was the breath of Emilys nostrils. At
    home, life was . Secluded but unrestricted and
    inartificial to one of disciplined routine.
    Charlotte, Memoirs of Ellis Bell
  • EB was sent home after 3 mths.

the Pensionnat Heger
  • In 1842, EB went to Brussels to teach and study
  • gt she was judged unfeminine
  • M. Heger thought she should have been a man,
    given her personality and remarkable, forceful
  • She was laughed at for her old-fashioned clothes,
    refusal to talk and seeming unconcern for her
  • EB spoke only when she was interested in the
    topic and then defended her opinion in an
    unfeminine way. After a year in Brussels, EB went
    home and never left Haworth again.

  • EBs personality brilliant but uncommunicative,
    inward, shy, reserved girl.
  • She never thrived anywhere but at home gt taking
    long walks on the heath and enjoying the company
    of her dogs.

The beginnings of a Literary career
  • The 3 sister published their first book of poems
    under the pen-names Currer (Charlotte), Ellis
    (Emily) and Acton (Anne) bell.
  • Gained critical attention but not a commercial
    success sold only a few copies.
  • Girls were determined to make a success of their
    writing as they could not depend on father or
    Branwell for their futures.

Her Death
  • EB died at age 30 yrs 5 mths on 1848, a few
    months after brother.
  • Died from consumption tuberculosis which she got
    after brother s funeral.
  • Her sister Anne was to die 5 moths later of the
    same disease.

Romanticism and EB
  • ..attitude or intellectual orientation that
    characterized many works of literature, painting
    etc in Western civilization over a period from
    the late 18th to the mid-19th century.
  • Romanticism emphasized the individual, the
    subjective, the irrational, the imaginative, the
    personal, the spontaneous, the emotional, the
    visionary, and the transcendental.

  • Britannica online

  • Both EB and CB were great admirers of the
    Romantic poets especially Byron and Wordsworth.
  • Romantic fiction is highly charged, emotionally
    unrestrained and V personal as contrasted against
    the neo-classical ideal of balance, temperance
    and urbanity in the 18th century and the realism
    and naturalism of the later Victorian novel
    (later 19th century).

  • Romantic Writers saw society as a hypocritical
    prison house of inauthenticity, where people are
    yoked to rules and customs.
  • Romanics valued the individuals rights over
    societys needs and they often celebrated the
    heroic rebel and the iconoclast

The Romantic Rebel
  • someone who rebels agst cosmic or social
    injustice or tyranny. Rebellion is often hopeless
    yet the act of rebelling is seen as heroic.
  • In Wuthering Heights (WH), Heathcliff (HC) rebels
    agst all the laws of God and man
  • but bcos he is motivated by a great love that
    transcends all laws, he is often seen as heroic

HC as Byronic hero
  • Byronic hero is a a romantic hero bcos of his
    passion, his amorality, his iconoclasm, his
    homelessness and his desperation.
  • He is usually dark, mysterious, brooding and
    living an immoral life in a vain attempt to
    escape unhappy memories.
  • To what extent does HC exemplify these traits?

  • Another characteristic of Romantic Lit is the
    description of childhood thoughts as unique and
  • Childhood is a time when we see things as they
    really are before social conditioning in the form
    of education, prejudice and habit blind us to the
  • Poets like Wordsworth claim that unless we hold
    onto our inner child we will lose our freedom
    and power.

  • WH can also be seen as a lament of lost childhood
    freedom and intensity when the spirit is less
    restrained by social laws and customs and even by
    the body itself.
  • The entire plot can be said to be motivated by
    childhood memories that Catherine and HC cant
    forget as only then were they really living.
  • NB Catherine returns as a child in Lockwoods

  • Romantic LIT aims to change the readers beliefs
    not through the intellect but thru the emotions,
    to arouse in the reader passions and sympathies
    he had not before.
  • Emily made use of romantic psychology when
    describing the minds and thoughts of chracs
    during intense moments and states of excitement.
  • She also made use of symbolic dreams in her
    novel, demonstrating the Romantics fascination
    with dreams and visions.

  • R also believed the relationship btw mind and
    nature is a mystical one bcos there is a
    transcendent or divine element in nature that
    finds a living response within the heart of
    people open to receive it.
  • In WH, EB presents characters who have an intense
    relationship with nature.

  • Both HC C belong more to the natural than the
    human world.
  • In WH there is a tension between traditional,
    patriarchal Christianity and a more Romantic
    natural religion that seeks God in nature
    believes that nature itself is a part of God,
    filled with and expressing his spirit.

  • Love
  • supreme celebration of love. Love which defies
    authority, social convention death.
  • C-H love is never consummated, deferred and never
    translated into the pettiness of daily
  • It is idealised and magnified. Novel both
    recognises and explicitly appeals to the desire
    for perfect love.

  • Revenge
  • Linked to theme of love. In WH, there is a cycle
    of revenge perpetuated by Hindley and Heathcliff.
    Which destroys or touches the lives of everyone
    in particular Cathy and Hareton

  • Patriarchal oppression of women
  • WH does portray women struggling agst patriarchy.
    Feelings of imprisonment for women recur
    throughout the novel. Both Catherines are
    imprisoned first by their fathers then husbands.
    Women are enslaved by a legal system highly
    injurious to them eg Isabella Linton as abused
    wife. Hindley as despotic male.

  • Morality
  • -profound moral ambivalence. Who are the villains
    heroes? Is H a hero? Not easy to distinguish.
    His romantic hero or evil villain? ending leads
    to his redemption? Love and suffering redeem him?

  • Identity or the Self.
  • Examining the boundaries of the self when C
    declares she is H, radical challenge to
    conventional notion of selfhood and identity.
  • Her identification with HC utterly overwhelms her
    own discrete personal identity.
  • Q what happens to identity when individuality
    collides with love? Individual means indivisible
    but EB insists on merged or convergent
  • Eg the repetitious doubling of names. gt
    different characters have similar names gt
    destabilises fundamental notions of selfhood and

  • Only HC has one name gt suggests he is of a
    primordial nature, a pure uncombined nature.
  • What that is, is a mystery we know nothing of
    his origins he just appears. What he represents
    symbolically is also unclear.
  • Some critics see him as symbolizing the part of
    Catherine she has to give up when she is
    initiated into womanhood the bite that leads
    her to TG the beginning or her physical maturity.

  • Storm va Calm
  • Lord David Cecil in an essay published in 1934
    established a symbolic reading of the text as
    structured on a dialectic binary between 2
    living spiritual principles the principle of
    the storm of the harsh, the ruthless, the
    wild, the dynamic and the principle of the
    calm- of the gentle, the merciful, the passive,
    the tame.

  • In the novel they are exemplified by the 2
    Houses WH and Thrushcross Grange. Separate yet
    complementary, both houses live in relative
    harmony until the equilibrium is disturbed with
    the entry of an external force i.e. Heathcliff
  • Nature vs Culture
  • WH nature TG culture

  • Class conflict OR Social criticism / indictment
    of class system even capitalism itself.
  • HC feels C has rejected him bcos he is uneducated
    and poor. He returns a gentleman with money. He
    uses his class and money to exact a revenge on
    Hindley and to seduce Isabella fooled by his ap
    of class.
  • Class money and education make him powerful but
    not better. Novel implies that no one is made
    better by these acquisitions. Critics see it as
    class struggle and a fable of the violence and
    exploitation undergirding civilised society. Eg
    civilised TG is protected by vicious dogs and
    money is seen as breeding fools and weaklings eg
    Linton, Hindley are no match for HC Hareton
    brght up in poverty/servitude

  • Genre
  • It has elements of the gothic, the romance and
    the realistic novel (social-realist novel).
  • The realistic novel is one that deals with
    everyday affairs of ord people, does not stray
    from the ord world of cause and effect into the
    supernatural and does not overemphasise its
    symbolism to the point of allegory.

  • The Romance - a style of heroic prose and verse
    narrative that was particularly current in
    aristocratic literature of Medieval and Early
    Modern Europe, that narrated fantastic stories
    about the marvellous adventures of a chivalrous,
    heroic knight, king or queen who are unhindered
    by worldly circumstances in the pursuit of their
    lofty desires and great passions.
  • The Gothic novel with its elemts of mystery,
    suspense and the supernatural. Use of ghosts,
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