Wuthering Heights and Northanger Abbey as Gothic Novels

Powerful Essays
While on the vigorous journey through a novel, a reader can be faced with many questions, put forth intentionally by the author, as well as ones they might conjure up for themselves. Roland Barthes says “Literature is the question minus the answer.” For the most part this is true, however when one is reading for leisure or the author does not portray as well as they could this statement is invalid. Two novels that have been broken down recently are Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. Neither book has a common central question, but they both have their pros and cons.

Wuthering Heights is a book containing an intricate plot, and a labyrinth of relationships and emotions. The characterization in this book is extravagant, this is done primarily to draw attention to Bronte’s central question, “how good is humanity?” Most of Bronte’s focus goes into her characters, her most distinct character is Heathcliff, followed by the older Catherine then to Nelly.

As we look back at the text, there were many moments of pain when Heathcliff is described. As a child he was abandoned by his biological family, then Earnshaw died and left him, then the rest of the family treated him poorly and he grew up a villain dragging Catherine with him. He is depicted as manipulative, cruel and heartless, and the classic outsider in Gothic novels. Most can agree that he was put through vast hardships and unfair circumstances and undoubtedly, his personality was altered negatively by this. Could he have changed to a good person? Did he want to? Maybe, but the death of his saviour and the hindrances of his new family all prevented him from becoming anything better. Yet we are all faced with hard circumstances and bitter hat...

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...son for writing the novel. Even though the book was written over one hundred and fifty years ago, she still had a grasp on the ways of humanity. Austen on the other hand was not quite there. She did try to make the reader see beyond the plot and characters, and most of the readers pick up on the satire, but it seemed as if there was no more to the book aside from this and critic of the Gothic. Bronte wants us to look at our lives and see what wrongs we are doing and change them, but she still leaves the unanswered questions: ‘How?’ and ‘Why are humans like this?’ Austen may have intended to have more to her novel than just critic, but it was not obvious enough to be usable. All-in-all, both novels gave the reader a sense of being there with the characters, and both used precision in their narration to keep the readers in suspension or rolling on the floor laughing.
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