?Literary ?value? is not inherent in the text but is produced by the institutions of society, especially the education system. Thus the text is not only ?produced? by its writer, it is ?re-produced? by society?.? Literary value can be determined by the relevance a piece of literature has to an audience. The determination of whether this relevance falls solely within a text, or on the other hand is somewhat universal in its context and thus timeless, being ?reproduced by society? because of its continual meaning, brings forth the different arguments between literary critics, whom appreciate, criticise and analyse literature in many different strands. Whether this determination is derived upon by a ?new critic,? a ?feminist? responder, or any other for that matter, literature is not something, which is appreciated by all responders in the exact same way. The text Wuthering Heights? and its literary value hence can be debated on many different levels.
Frank Kamode quotes; ?For we don?t think of the novel as a code, or a nut, that can be broken; which contains or refers to a meaning all will agree upon.? On that approach, one may ask, what is the main aspect Wuthering Heights has which enables it to bring forth this discourse in analysis. Is it the literary techniques, themes and context in which the literature attempts to subdue its primary message, or the relevance it merely reflects to the whole of society, generating such a powerful and popular message that allows it to be re-generated in other forms of literature, far into the future, or merely a combination of the two.
This debate can be analysed through the ?new critic? approach, the interpretation of the themes within the text. To begin, Wuthering Heights portrays a community slandered by dysfunctional families and complex characters. The complicated and intriguing mystery of the Earnshaw?s and Linton?s embodies a strand of events, each twisted by the reactions of the passionate characters whom battle through them. The melodrama, which surfaces from the accumulation of the catastrophes and chaos which the characters create due to their passion for one another, being either love or hate, develops the themes of love, jealousy, spirituality, hate, division, reconciliation, change, reflection, exclusion, class, wealth, greed, civilization, society, culture, religion and education, all which we too face sometimes in our own societies. These themes, expressed with such an extent of passion, intertwined with the unique attribution each character casts to the complexities, results in the responders being left with the most detailed portrayals of the themes in amongst the most emotive language. For example, when Heathcliff describes his despair to Nelly as he desperately wants to see Catherine; ?The moment her regard ceased, I would have torn his heart out, and drank his blood! But, till then ? if you don?t believe me, you don?t know me ? till then, I would have died by inches before I touched a single hair of his head!? highlighting the emotions the characters boldly express throughout the novel. Such themes however are not only connected to this text, for themes are tools used by literary constructors in order to formulate their plot. Hence they are transferable into other texts, for future literature, developing the concept of intertextuality, where by a past text is recognised in other texts due to its relation to the latter one. Hence, these themes are not only constricted to Wuthering Heights, and they are not only constricted to one place, time or context. They are universal and easily re-produced once being applied to other texts, hence allowing responders to relate to and recognise the themes, no matter what time of the day or what year it is.
Wuthering Heights? is ?reproduced? by society by proposing the hidden questions that are asked throughout the novel because of its indirect criticism of common paradigms. These may be discovered through the way in which characters express their feelings, emotions, reactions and expressions during the course of the novel, through the use of emotive language, symbolism, similes and metaphors, which Bronte uses in the characters dialogues. For instance, it is interesting to recognise how the females are portrayed compared to the males, raising the question of patriarchal dominance over females, a topic in which modern day feminists use to raise consistently once studying Wuthering Heights, in relation to their ?suffering? today. For instance Heathcliff says to Isabella; ?and I, being your legal protector, must retain you in my custody.? N.M Jacobs quotes; ?it replicates a cultural split between male and female spheres that is shows to be at least one source of the tragedy at the centre of the fictional world.? Of course, this fictional world is as Emily Bronte developed in her time, is able to reproduced in future texts or recognised by future responders as it represents a continual segregation between human beings, a universal issue. Another comparison is the binary between the wealthy Lintons and the relatively less well off Earnshaws, criticising class and whether social power, due to economic power is beneficial to ones happiness. Such binary as this is constantly used throughout the novel as the two families each in either Wuthering Heights or Thruscross Grange integrate between each other. The modern responder soon discovers the binary between passion/reason, dark/light, chaos/order, barbarity/civilization, ignorance/education, nature/culture and true love/superficial love, a technique which is also used in modern texts today. Hence the mere questioning of paradigms which Emily Bronte achieves through the use of binary allows Wuthering Heights to be universal, and somewhat ?reproduced? as this act of questioning one?s place in society and the world around you, is not something which is solely constricted to the novel, it is something achieved commonly from the reproduction of themes in different contexts throughout many pieces of literature. Frank Kamode quotes; ?Digging and carbon dating simply have no equivalents here; there is no way of distinguishing old signs from new.? Wuthering Heights primarily remains universal by being able to be reproduced through its attraction of many different interpretations of the text, by many different people. Wuthering heights is not interpreted by all responders in exactly the same way, it is open to interpretation by all, leaving its messages to be picked up by many different groups of responders. Frank Kamode quotes; ?it is one of the very large number of readings that may be generated from the text of the novel.? These interpretations are discovered through the analysis of the themes, characters and portrayal of events depicted throughout the novel. For instance a Marxist critic will argue the difference between the economic situations Heathcliff faces, arguing that his personality is somehow related to his background of economic struggle. Again, a feminist critic will argue that Wuthering Heights depicts the struggle of females against the overpowering males, such as Hindley and Heathcliff whom symbolise the common actions of segregating women. These critics are criticising the novel in a time period of today, in which modern responders study the more elderly text Wuthering Heights. This solely depicts the universal aspect of the novel and the timeless nature it has, by being able to be interpreted and relatable to modern day institutions and education systems. For Frank Kamode quotes; ?The survival of the classic must therefore depend upon its possession of a surplus of signifier; as in King Lear or Wuthering Heights this may expose them to the charge of confusion, for they must always signify more than is needed by any one interpreter or any one generation of interpreters.? Therefore, through the themes, questioning of paradigms and different interpretations of the text, Wuthering Heights remains a text which is relatable to modern day generations, as they too can relate the situations of the characters within, to the situations they face themselves. Hence Wuthering Heights, written by Emily Bronte in the 1800?s in an English society is able to reproduced in a 21st Century society, anywhere across the world due to the universality the primary themes and questions have during the course of the novel. N.M Jacobs quotes; ?This reality, hidden beneath layers of narration in the two novels, was as well-hidden in mid century English society as it often is today,? describing one of the many features depicted in the novel which are still apparent in society today, giving an example of the excellence Wuthering Heights has in being able to be a timeless, universal novel depicting realistic human characteristics which are easily recognised by responders throughout the world today in their societies.