Romanticism In Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights

3520 words - 14 pages

Romanticism in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights


   Wuthering Heights, written by Emily Brontë, can be classified as a

Romantic novel, because it contains many tenets of Romanticism.

Romanticism was the initial literary reaction to changes in society caused

by the industrial revolution:  it was an attempt to organize the chaos of

the clash between the agrarian and the industrial ways of life.

Romanticism was developing in a time in which all of society's rules,

limits, and restraints on how each person should act where being questioned,

tried, and twisted.  Wuthering Heights is a Romantic novel which uses a

tale of hopeless love to describe the clash of two cultures-Neo-Classicism

and Romanticism.


      One of the most significant tenets of Romanticism is the love of

the past.  The first instance in which the reader finds an intimate love of

the past is when Nelly remarks how she wished Heathcliff had never been

introduced to the family, because his presence at Wuthering Heights upsets

the established order:  "he bred dad feeling" (42).   Another instance is

when Heathcliff realizes that his one love, Catherine, has fallen in love

with Edgar.  He shows love of the past by pointing out to her how little

time she has spent with him compared to the time she spends with Edgar.

After Catherine's death, both Heathcliff and Edgar wish her back even if

they must return to fighting each other for her love.  The Romantics had a

love of the past, because it is stable and predictable: all possible

scenarios have already happened.


        Mr. Earnshaw's act of taking care of Heathcliff contains many

aspects of Romanticism.  A key tenet in this act is Mr. Earnshaw's will to

enter into the mind of a child.  Mr. Earnshaw tries to do this when he

takes Heathcliff home.  Mr. Earnshaw sees a humble child in need of help.

He is not concerned with the constrains of society, which is another tenet

of Romanticism, but rather the welfare of the child.  Brontë gives Mr.

Earnshaw's benevolence relatively high moral value, also a trait common to

Romantic works.  Mr. Earnshaw cares for the child despite its dark

appearance, because he believes in the instinctive goodness of humanity,

which is also a characteristic of Romanticism.  Mr. Earnshaw's act of

caring for Heathcliff is very Romantic, in that he throws aside all

constraints to help the humility he loves and the child that holds it.


      The accurate observation of nature is another tenet of Romanticism,

which is present in Wuthering Heights.  Brontë describes nature with great

detail and full of life.  She depicts the "excessive slant of a few stunted

firs" (10).  She pictures the "range of gaunt thorns" which stretch for

nourishment from the sun (10).  Emily Brontë sees "the power of the north

wind" flowing...

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