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Wuthering Heights: A Gothic Novel

Author WuHaiMing
Tutor YiYanPing
School Hunan Normal University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Emily Bronte Wuthering Heights Gothic tradition
Type Master's thesis
Year 2009
Downloads 370
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Wuthering Heights is considered to be a masterpiece in English literature. Its author Emily Bronte is also immortal because of this work. This is partly because that Emily was so deeply influenced by Gothic tradition which is widely used in English literature that she employed some Gothic elements in her creative work.The thesis consists of introduction, the body and conclusion. Introduction initiates the significant position of the novel and its author both in English and world literature; and offers a brief narration of the Gothic elements contained in each part of the novel.Chapter One first briefly elaborates the surprising similarity of Emily’s life experience and Gothic heroines. Her mother passed away early and she was adopted by her aunt and some of her sisters and brother died at very young ages, which makes death—the usual elements in Gothic novels a frequent experience in her life. Her father’s story, her reading since early childhood, and her tender creative work with her brother and sisters stimulate her special interest in Gothic novels. And her unyielding character, her inner loneliness and pride, her extreme sensitiveness and super imaginative power fulfills her Gothic dream and splendid surpass of Gothic elements.Chapter Two is devoted to the analysis of the employment and improvement of the themes of Gothic novels. Many of the traditional Gothic themes concern about killing, conspiracy, rape, incest and so on. Wuthering Heights is a narrative story of love and revenge which involves hatred, conspiracy and fight for the right of inheritance. However, the traditional gothic novels develop the plot through intensifying the conflicts between the good and the evil, while Wuthering Heights removed and developed the theme. In Wuthering Heights, there is no conflict between the good and the evil, and there is even no good or bad people. There is only exploration of the truest and the most natural human nature.In Chapter Three, through studying of the heroes and heroines of most Gothic novels, the author tries to explore the employment and improvement of the Gothic elements in the portrait of the characters in Wuthering Heights. Most of the traditional Gothic heroes are "villain-hero", that is "Byron-style hero". And in early Gothic novels the heroines are usually weak and passive and often chased and seduced by a villain hero. In Wuthering Heights, the hero Heathcliff is flagrant and fragrant, the heroine Isabella was tempted and used by Heathcliff. The two are from the Gothic characters. However, in the depiction of the characters, instead of the superficial creation of terror and skills, Emily far surpassed the traditional gothic novels and made her characters full and dimentional. And the love story in Wuthering Heights is considered to be the most earth-shattering love story among all literary works because of the profound character portrait.Chapter Four makes a further discussion of the employment and improvement of the Gothic elements in environmental depiction and atmosphere formation and other elements. Most of the traditional Gothic novels tend to choose the distant medieval castle, the ruins of the wilderness as the location of the story to create a brutal, mysterious and horrible atmosphere. In Wuthering Heights, the story takes place in the remote wilderness of Yorkshire. In the creation of atmosphere and use of supernaturalism, Emily also employs the Gothic devices. While Emily’s depiction of the book from the beginning to the end and the skillful use of the two objective narrators Nelly Dean and Lockwood is a breakthrough of Gothic tradition.Emily was called a "Sphinx" in English literature. Her employment and improvement to the Gothic elements makes Wuthering Heights a masterpiece. Her contribution lies in the fact that she has accelerated the further development of British literature and exerts a significant impact on English and world literature.

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