Early Criticisms Of Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte Essay

Early Criticisms Of Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte Essay

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Wuthering Heights was first published in 1847 with the author’s name
given as Ellis Bell. Wuthering Heights was actually written by Emily
Bronte, but she adopted a male alias as female authors rarely got
published. Her work was praised for the imagination used, but
criticised for its moral ambiguity. Wuthering Heights challenged
Victorian ideals and this shocked its first critics. The fact that
Emily Bronte felt the need to use a male alias is an indication of how
she feared the public would receive her book. Wuthering Heights may be
seen as shocking, as Bronte addresses many Victorian ideals with
criticism. She does so with unusual characters with flaws and their
amoral actions. For example, she challenges Victorian precept such as
inequality of the sexes and social class. Bronte’s novel also includes
ghosts and unexplained dreams which would have disturbed Victorian
critics. Religion is also implicitly criticised by Bronte at various
points in the novel. Bronte uses literary devices, such as
characterisation, language, motifs, and imagery to address themes and
the first critics of Wuthering Heights would have found her criticisms
scandalous.

It is debateable under which genre Wuthering Heights should fall as
the plot features many themes. It is often thought of as a gothic
horror or a romantic escapism. Once it was discovered (in 1850) that
Ellis Bell was actually female, many Victorians viewed it as gothic as
this category was associated with women. Bronte also uses dual
narration, which was practically unprecedented when she wrote
Wuthering Heights. Moreover, the fact that Nelly narrates more than
Lockwood although she is a woman, contradicts the norms of Victorian
society.

One theme that Bronte ...


... middle of paper ...


...ight; however Heathcliff is the lightning, which is destructive like
his character. Furthermore, the descriptions are also often sensual
and invoke unrestrained feelings, whether good or bad. Bronte’s use of
such description would have been found shocking, as it was not
expected of a ‘weak’ woman to portray such provocative feelings.

To conclude, the first critics of Wuthering Heights found the novel
shocking and subversive because Bronte crosses the boundaries of many
Victorian ideals. She addressed the roles of gender, equality of the
sexes, education, class, religion and love. Moreover, Bronte did so in
a revolutionary way, using techniques such as duel narration, imagery
and structure to explore the themes in the novel. Furthermore the
first critics would have been shocked purely by the characters in
Wuthering Heights and their uncivilised actions.

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