Please compare the significant literary techniques in "The Raven" by Poe and Wuthering Heights by Bronte? 

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Certainly, there are shared literary elements in Poe's "The Raven" and Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights:


There are several Gothic techniques that are present in both Poe's and Bronte's works.

1. The Exploration of the Dark Side
"The Raven" is a narrative poem that directs the reader from curiosity to horror. Poe's narrator's initial speculation about the raven becomes internalized until his imaginings horrify him.

Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore--
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking "Nevermore...."

And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,..
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted--nevermore!

In a similar fashion, Mr. Lockwood's soul falls under the "shadow" of Catherine Earnshaw as he reads from her diary that he finds as he is roomed in her former chambers. Later, Lockwood describes the "intense horror of nightmare [that] came over me." Like the narrator of "The Raven," he imagines a spectre, namely, Catherine Linton, scratching at the lattice, "Let me in! Let me in!"

Incidentally, Poe's narrator imagines "something at my window lattice."

2. Extreme weather and/or landscape

In Bronte's novel, the harshness of the winter storms prevents Lockwood's passage and he must stay at Wuthering Heights; the ruggedness and wild beauty of the moors are in contrast to the civility of the environs of Thrushcross Grange. Mr. Lockwood is held captive by the snowstorm at the Heights while the night that Heathcliff and Catherine spy on the Lintons in their home is lovely. 

In Poe's poem, it is a "midnight dreary" in "bleak December" with wind howling. 

3. A passion-driven hero or hero-villain

Poe's narrator is in a melancholic state that "this ebony bird beguil[es] my sad fancy...." that is later incited to great passion: 

"Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting--....
Leave my loneliness unbroken!--quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!

Heathcliff of Bronte's novel is truly passion-driven from beginning to end. After Mr. Lockwood awakens him in Chapter 3, Heathcliff sends Lockwood to his room; alone, he rushes to the window, wrenching open the lattice as he cries out in "an uncontrollable passion of tears,"

"Cathy, do come. Oh, do--once more! Oh! my heart's darling! hear me this time, Cahterine, at last!"

Throughout the narrative, Heathcliff is intense in his feelings, villainous in his treatment of Catherine Linton and Hareton Earnshaw, and frightening in death with his "life-like gaze of exultation." (Ch. 34)

4. Necromancy

There is in both works attempts at communicating with the dead.

5. The pursued heroine

In Gothic works usually a virtuous, idealistic, and almost poetic young woman is pursued by a wicked, older aristocrat. So, while the males of the two works under discussion do not fit this description, they are both somewhat villainous, and they do pursue an ideal or idealistic female.

For instance, Poe's troubled, and later enraged, narrator refers to Lenore as an "angel"; Heathcliff, the dark, gypsy-like gamin of London's streets, perceives Catherine as an ideal--"Oh, my heart's darling," and, as he dies, he declares, "I have nearly attained my heaven...." believing he will be reunited with Catherine.


1. Spiritual after-life

In the third stanza of "The Raven," the narrator is filled with terror as he contemplates the presence of "some visitor entreating entrance" and hears the "silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain." Then, when the raven enters, the narrator perceives it as other-worldly, "of the saintly days of yore." 

Heathcliff and Catherine are "two halves of one soul" (Enotes). In her famous line, Catherine declares, "I am Heathcliff." Thus, Heathcliff's loss is so devastating as he has lost part of himself when Catherine dies. This is why he smiles at death and affirms, "I have nearly attained my heaven."

2. Love

Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff share passion and a transcendent romantic connection. Heathcliff is the brooding lover, possessive and intense. Catherine clearly feels tied to him, declaring they are one and the same.

Obviously, the narrator of "The Raven" has a passionate love for Lenore, whose name is ever on his lips, "the whispered word, 'Lenore'!"

3. Suffering and darkness

Heathcliff suffers both while Catherine lives and after she dies. For, she torments him while she is at Thrushcross with her cousin, and certainly after her marriage to Edgar Linton, for he is obsessed with her. 

As Heathcliff is dying, he tells Catherine's daughter, Catherine, of his passionate suffering:

"I believe you think me a fiend!"....Well, there is one who won't shrink from my company! By God! she's relentless....It's unutterably too much for flesh and blood to bear--even mine!"

Similarly, Poe's narrator is haunted by the loss of Lenore, having perceived the raven as some dark omen of the finality of his parting from her,

"...Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!" [Plutonian shore=the land of darkness, the underworld]