The Castle Of Otranto And Wuthering Heights: Love Beyond Classes, Life, And Death

1436 words - 6 pages

Setting his work in the Middle Ages in a remote castle with horror and fantastic elements, Horace Walpole popularized the Gothic Romance genre with his 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto. He was the vanguard in bring thrills to readers with ancient prophecies, mysterious deaths, specters and supernatural events in his novel. However, the Gothic genre reaches a climax in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847), which is marked by its intensity of emotions and artistic subtlety. Wuthering Heights is an exquisite blend of realism and romance that makes it a classic love story that haunts us till today. In this paper, I will argue that social problems of class and economics pull Heathcliff and Catherine apart, and the Gothic Romance genre affects Wuthering Heights by adding Gothic elements of an extreme weather and landscape, supernatural events and death in her novel to create a dark and mysterious atmosphere appropriate for a revenge plot with heightened emotions.
The basic conflict of the novel that drives Heathcliff and Catherine apart is social. Written after the Industrial Revolution, Wuthering Heights is influenced by the rise of new fortunes and the middle class in England. Money becomes a new criterion to challenge the traditional criterias of class and family in judging a gentleman’s background. Just as Walpole who portrays the tyrannies of the father figure Manfred and the struggles of the Matilda who wants to marry the peasant Theodore, as depicted in the quote “(…) improbability that either father would consent to bestow his heiress on so poor a man, though nobly born”(p. 89), Brontë depicts a brutal bully Hindley who torments Heathcliff and separates Catherine from him. Heathcliff, a gypsy outcast picked up by Mr. Earnshaw on the streets of Liverpool and taken to Wuthering Heights, is very different from Catherine in his social background. He is discriminated upon due to his skin color and breed by almost everyone. Although treated as an inferior laborer by Hindley after Mr. Earnshaw’s death, young Heathcliff offers Catherine an escape from the materialistic upper class and forms a very special bond with his foster sister. However, Catherine learns vanity as she gets close to the Linton family and eventually marries Edgar Linton despite her overpowering love for Heathcliff. As noted in Chapter 9 as Catherine’s reason to marry Edgar, that “And he will be rich, and I shall like to be the greatest woman of the neighborhood, and I shall be proud of having such a husband”. This quote demonstrates Catherine’s ambition to climb up the social ladder by marrying a man of higher social status than she does, whether she aims to provide for Heathcliff’s living or not. Also in Chapter 9, Catherine’s speech to Nelly about accepting Edgar’s proposal further proves her motivation of social ambition, however remote isolated among the moors she is located. “It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; [Edgar’s] is as different as a...

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