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A Freudian Psychoanalytic Approach to Wuthering Heights

Author ZuoHaiXia
Tutor ZuoJinMei
School Ocean University of China
Course Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords Wuthering Heights Freudian psychoanalysis personality structure narcissism dreams
Type Master's thesis
Year 2010
Downloads 632
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As Emily Bronte’s only novel, Wuthering Heights has been controversial since its publication. Time has proven Wuthering Heights to be a true masterpiece and Emily Bronte is regarded as a genius of English literature. For more than one hundred and fifty years, Wuthering Heights has been interpreted from various angles. Freudian Psychoanalysis is one of the most important theories of literary criticism, which provides readers with a novel method to interpret literary works. In this thesis, an attempt is made to analyze the main characters’emotional world and dig out the nature deep in their consciousness from a Freudian psychoanalytic perspective.This thesis is composed of three chapters together with an introduction and a conclusion.The introduction begins with a brief introduction to the plot and the literary review of Wuthering Heights.Chapter One first introduces Freud and his personality structure theory, and then psychoanalyzes the characters in the light of personality structure theory. In their childhood, Heathcliff and Catherine are analogous to the“id”that is as primitive as a savage, seeking pleasure and behaving spontaneously and naturally. They are not used to suppressing their id and their love is mostly governed by their unconsciousness instead of reason. As Catherine reaches maturity, she attempts to separate herself from the“id”to become a part of the“ego”--- ideal in the external world. She acquires a dual personality who tests id’s impulse and tries to control it. On the contrary, Edgar personifies cultural ideals as the“superego”that represents the rules of proper behavior and morality.Chapter Two makes an introduction of the author, Emily Bronte and interprets Freud’s narcissism theory. According to Freudian psychoanalytic theory of narcissism Emily Bronte suffers some traumas in the period of self-development, which leads to her narcissistic inclination. Her only novel, Wuthering Heights, does reveal this inclination of hers. In Wuthering Heights Emily creates two passionate characters of narcissism, Catherine and Heathcliff. Catherine’s suffering from narcissism is mainly shown in three symptoms: her self-consciousness, her hysteria and her homesickness. Heathcliff’s narcissism is revealed in two ways: Firstly, he, an outcast, is deserted by society and in isolation he yields to self-love. Secondly the two kinds of contradictive perversion of narcissism-- sadism and masochism, work together in him.Chapter Three focuses on the dreams in Wuthering Heights. According to Freud, dream is the disguised fulfillment of repressed desires or wishes. Dreams have the ability to show the manifestations of the characters innermost desires, often dreams act as a way for characters to transcend their limitations that are placed on them throughout their lives. The descriptions and analysis of Mr. Lockwood’s two nightmares allow for the reader to peer into the mind of the characters.By analyzing the characters in the light of Freudian psychoanalysis, we can better understand the personalities of the characters and the mystery of human nature.

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