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How does Wuthering Heights deviate from the tradition of Victorian novel?

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chinmoy | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 4, 2009 at 8:16 PM via web

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How does Wuthering Heights deviate from the tradition of Victorian novel?

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MaudlinStreet | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted September 7, 2009 at 8:55 AM (Answer #1)

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Wuthering Heights is quite distinct from most novels of the Victorian Age. She does set it in the Yorkshire moors of northern England, a rural, isolated region. She also depicts the strict social hierarchy of the time. At the top were the Lords, the aristocracy, with its titles, large estates, and political dominance. Next came the gentry class, non-titled nobility landowners. The Linton family is typical of this class. Next were the gentlemen farmers, many of whom were prosperous enough to maintain a lifestyle like that of the gentry. Mr. Earnshaw, father of Hindley and Cathy, is a representative gentleman farmer. However, beyond this, the novel is unlike any other novel in the genre of Victorian literature.

Wuthering Heights stands outside the social conventions of its time. At this point in time, the individual was characteristically viewed only as a member of society. All actions were considered in reference to this framework. In Wuthering Heights, Brontë for the first time portrayed society from a completely individual point of view. Although other authors dealt more directly with moral and social concerns Bronte's novel was unique for containing more of the primitive and spiritual side of the human spirit. The wild passions of Heathcliff were essentially unheard of within literature before the novel.

Wuthering Heights, furthermore, with its mysterious, isolated mansions located in the wind-swept, brooding Yorkshire moors, is replete with overtones of Gothic horror. There is the suggestion of ghosts revisiting the living, supernatural allusions, and above all, a protagonist who symbolizes the dark side of mankind. These Gothic characteristics are more typical of the Romantic period of literature than the Victorian. Most notably, its theme of indestructibility of the spirit, which was a subject not touch by Victorian writers, belonging instead to the Gothic tradition.

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