INTRODUCING WUTHERING HEIGHTS

What kind of novel is Wuthering Heights? I ask because the novel blends so many different possibilities within its composite whole. It is a passionate love story of a never consummated relationship that dominates the whole story-even though the heroine dies well before the end and consummation is sought by her lover after death ; it is a history novel to do with life on the Yorkshire moors sixty to forty years before- a history describing class differences between the two houses of its settings; it is a revenge drama, in which the adopted outsider who feels rejected, becomes the usurper eventually taking over the two houses; it is a saga of three generations in which, eventually, there appears to be a restorative process at work whereby characters in the third generation learn from the mistakes of the earlier generation; it is a novel pre-eminently of two dominating characters who are often regarded as over- shadowing everything else in the novel. It is a novel, which is realistic, with very accurate sociological observation, as well as a novel with sensationalist gothic and supernatural elements. As a result of all this blending it has challenged literary theorists to very different approaches. Marxist, feminist, pscho-analytic theorists have found much within the novel to discuss.

In a series of blogs I want to look more basically at what I find in the novel which makes it great reading as literature. What makes it, quite simply, a wonderful book with a life of its own? The critical approach is traditional : to present a passage which is looked at for its particular qualities and which leads the discussion towards debate as to the rich experience the book has to offer. I hope thereby to encourage interest in the novel for those who have not read it and to stimulate further thought in those who have. I shall be delighted to deal with any responses from readers.

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