Transcending Wuthering Heights

Essay by xmunpietruUniversity, Master's March 2004

download word file, 7 pages 5.0

Downloaded 49 times

Perhaps its abiding fascination stems from the fact that the novel not only incorporates elements from a number of genres, but interrogates these different elements by creating a tension between them. So, for example, the pleasure of familiar detail provided by the text's realism is challenged by the transgressive power of the genres of fantasy and horror, gratifying both what Henry James has called 'the taste of emotions of recognition' and that 'for emotions of surprise.' Similarly, the intensity and escapism of the novel's romance is counterbalanced by the astute understanding of its psychological discourse.

On one level the novel appears to celebrate a transcendent love that surpasses the bounds of authority, mundanity, even death. However, while the novel may seem to hold out the promise of such satisfaction on this level, in a more complex and more interesting way it actually investigates, rather than exemplifies, the romantic cliché of perfect love.

'This is for the sake of one who comprehends in his person my feelings to Edgar and myself.' - When she dismisses as nonsense Nelly's concern that Heathcliff will feel rejected by her marriage to Edgar she is wrong to do so.

Cathy has been guilty of projecting her vision and desire on to Heathcliff. That element of projection is clearer still when Cathy is faced with the intransigent reality of Heathcliff's pain and declares, 'That is not my Heathcliff. I shall love mine yet, and take him with me - he's in my soul'

Of course, Cathy is not the only character to displace their desires and fears on to Heatchcliff. Lockwood foolishly imagines that he and Heathcliff are soul mates - 'I know, by instinct, his reserve springs from an aversion to showy displays of feeling' - and old Mr Earnshaw constructs a version of...