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I have an essay on Whuthering Heights and I need some hints. I don't really understand...

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nyki94 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 2, 2008 at 5:00 AM via web

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I have an essay on Whuthering Heights and I need some hints. I don't really understand what "writing evil or the poetics of evil" means.

If someone can lead me on the right way, I will be truly grateful. Thank you very much!

(PS: This is quite urgent)

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terafrayne | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted May 3, 2008 at 8:56 AM (Answer #1)

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I am assuming that this is a reference to Emma Francis' essay "Femininity, Power, and Romanticism" which is in Romanticism and Postmodernism, edited by Edward Larrissy. I am not sure; however, I imagine that this labeling relates to the romantic and gothic elements that Bronte blends to shape the narrative of Wuthering Heights. WH is replete with Gothic elements--the supernatural, ghosts, violence, secrets, insanity, reincarnation, and dark and gloomy settings. But it goes even a step further and crosses into dark taboo subjects such as necrophilia, incest and sadism. After Catherine passes away, Bronte infers that Heathcliff has tampered with her body. When he dies, he makes arrangements for their coffins to openly face one another so that they can rot together and somehow become one. It is the negotiation between the romantic elements in the novel and the dark gothic elements, that, I believe, demonstrates the poetics of evil that Francis describes in her essay.

In her essay, Francis alludes to another critic, Georges Baitaille. Baitallie, in his essay, argues that "Wuthering Heights is primarily an exploration of the asocial and amoral aspects of childhood and the way in which its transgressive energies continue to haunt the adult lives of Heathcliff and the first Catherine." The poetics of evil then perhaps fits with this description. The tension between the dark past of childhood that haunts the adult life.

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