Essay on Understanding Family in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights

Essay on Understanding Family in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights

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Understanding Family in Wuthering Heights  

    Jerome Bump, author of "Family-Systems Theory, Addiction, and Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights", analyzes the relationships of the "closed family unit" to understand the relationships of the novel. A better understanding of Wuthering Heights can be seen in Bump's examples of the contagious nature of hostility, abuse and addiction upon the two generations. The only escape for the second generation from the negative impression from the first generation is through intervention from outside the closed family unit.



At the beginning of the novel, Lockwood pays a visit to Heathcliff. What Lockwood finds is the isolated, second generation of a closed family unit. Not only isolated from society, the family is hostile amongst themselves and towards outsiders. Lockwood immediately senses hostility, and is treated like an unwanted outsider, as opposed to being welcomed by a more open family unit.


Hostility can be transferred from person to person, like a virus. The effects of hostility on Lockwood as Heathcliff's unwelcome guest represent how the family unit also reflects the same hostile nature. Lockwood imitates the hostility he senses in the family. In Lockwood's dream, a young girl's apparition appears to him at the widow. As the ghost bids Lockwood to " let me in," Lockwood replies " I'll never let you in" ( Bump citing Wuthering Heights). He then cut the ghost's wrist with broken glass. Not only has hostility affected Lockwood's actions through his subconscious, he rejects opening himself up to an outsider.


The repetition of names from generation to generation is a clue that other elements are repe...

... middle of paper ...

...eneration is able to pull out of repetition and turn the closed family unit into an open family unit. This is evident at the end of the novel when Lockwood returns to Wuthering Heights. Instead of an isolated, hostile family, Lockwood finds the door and lattice wide open for visitors to enter.


Work Cited

Bump, Jerome (Prof. Of English, Univ. of Texas-Austin). "Family-Systems Theory, Addiction, and Emily Wuthering Heights." Part 6 of The Family Dynamics of Victorian Fiction. [Rpt. Excerpts from "The Family Dynamics in the Reception of Art," Style 31.2 (1997): 328-350.] 

...From The Victorian Web: Literature, History, & Culture in the Victorian Age (George Landow, Prof.  of English and Art History, Brown Univ.)




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