Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Beach of Falesá” are nineteenth-century literary works that draw on the Victorian realist tradition yet deviate from it in several important ways. Discuss some elements in the two works that deviate from literary realism and what might they tell us about the hybrid nature of both works.

The elements that deviate from literary realism in Wuthering Heights and “The Beach of Falesá” involve the antagonists. Heathcliff and Case each demonstrate supernatural qualities, yet Robert Louis Stevenson subverts Case’s mystical abilities while Brontë builds up Heathcliff’s fantastical harshness.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One way to discuss some of the literary elements that deviate from literary realism in Emily Brontë’s novel Wuthering Heights and Robert Louis Stevenson’s short story “The Beach of Falesá” is to focus on the antagonists. Brontë’s novel and Stevenson’s short story each feature devious men.

In Wuthering Heights, the adversarial male is Heathcliff. His cruelty might strike some readers as not wholly realistic. Brontë’s brutal presentation of him and his relationship to the Earnshaws, the Lintons, and almost everyone else makes him out to be more of a fantastical monster than the ordinary kind of toxic person that one might encounter in an everyday realm.

In “The Beach of Falesá,” Case presents himself as a sorcerer. To keep the islanders under his thumb and to ward off competition, Case makes people think that he’s a person with special powers. As with Heathcliff’s indefatigable hatred, Case’s magical abilities will probably strain a reader’s credulity.

Unlike Brontë, Stevenson subverts the unreal elements of his story’s central antagonist. He shows that Case is a fake. John Wiltshire discovers that Case’s shaman sensibility is the result of harps and a few other items.

Catherine Earnshaw, Catherine Linton, and any of the other characters in Wuthering Heights are unable to subvert the menacing mysticism of Heathcliff. Brontë lets him remain in his fantastical sphere and doesn’t try to bring him back down to reality like Stevenson does with Case.

As for the hybrid nature of both works, think about how Brontë blends romance fiction with supernatural elements and how Stevenson mixes the adventure story with supernatural traits. The different hybrids might account for the authors’ different approaches toward their more unreal subject matter.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial