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Wuthering Heights. Ch 12. Bronte explores depths of human passion Catherine’s 3 day fast and her delirium. Symbol of Catherine’s struggle to find an equilibrium between the forces of nature and the civilised world. In her delirium Catherine talks to Heathcliff though he is not there:.

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ch 12
Ch 12
  • Bronte explores depths of human passion
  • Catherine’s 3 day fast and her delirium. Symbol of Catherine’s struggle to find an equilibrium between the forces of nature and the civilised world.
  • In her delirium Catherine talks to Heathcliff though he is not there:
conveys depths of human passion
Conveys depths of human passion
  • “It’s a rough journey and a sad heart to travel it; and we must pass by Gimmerton Kirk, to go that journey! We’ve braved its ghosts often together, and dared each other to stand among the graves and ask them to come… But Heathcliff I dare you now, will you venture? If you do I’ll keep you. I’ll not lie there by myself: they may bury me 12 feet deep and throw the church down over me, but I won’t rest till you are with me I never will!” p111
conveys depth and scope of the emotions of an extraordinary love
Conveys depth and scope of the emotions of an extraordinary love
  • In this speech Catherine dares Heathcliff to die for her so they can lie together at last in their graves in the churchyard, once more stressing the idea that love breaks all barriers and makes extraordinary demands.
  • Love is portrayed as a powerful emotion that transcends life and death.
  • The love between Catherine and Heathcliff is an extraordinary love (pure and concentrated) that threatens to consume and destroy the lovers.
an exploration of human passion
An exploration of human passion…
  • “Wuthering Heights is an exploration of human passion at different levels and of the effect exercised by the interplay of these levels upon human life in its individual and social aspects alike. Creative or destructive in their consequences, making for life or death, basic human emotions are presented in a state of purity and concentration; no other novel of the Victorian period has penetrated so far into the depths of passion, or followed with such unrelenting logic to their ultimate consequences the intensity of its operations.”

- Derek Traversi, The Bronte Sisters and Wuthering Heights

the tragedy of such a love
The tragedy of such a love
  • Social and religious norms, as reflected in the multiple voices and perspectives, and images present in the novel show clearly, that society is not able to understand nor condone such excesses of love.
  • The double narrative conveys the limitations of both Lockwood and Nellie Dean to understand the depth of emotions expressed by Catherine and Heathcliff.
  • Bronte’s use of the image of the church being thrown down on Catherine after death captures powerfully her fear of being repressed by society dictated by religious convention and norms. It portrays a spirit longing to break free from the artifices of the civilised world to find its union with nature where it belongs.
nellie as narrator
Nellie as narrator
  • The author makes a deliberate choice of narrator.
  • The kind of narrator has implications for the nature and meaning of the whole text.
  • In the case of Bronte’s characters, their narratives highlight many mysteries and uncertainties, and there are sharp conflicts between their points of view.
narrative feature
Narrative Feature
  • Nelly Dean’s narration is, technically, direct discourse, recorded by Lockwood in his journal, yet it bears most of the narration in the novel.
  • Nelly’s narration in turn includes much quoted dialogue and monologue., which in their turn include vital pieces of narration.
  • Homodiegetic narrators are also characters in the story world. (closer to the action) - Nelly
  • Both Nelly and Lockwood homodiegetic – but personalities and involvement in action are very different.
what affects the reliability of a narrator
What affects the reliability of a narrator?
  • The narration is inflected everywhere by our sense of who is narrating.

Lockwood is an imperceptive man, lacking in emotional depth.

Nelly Dean is more perceptive, less self absorbed, with a good enough heart and a sufficient enough supply of common sense to give her greater reliability than Lockwood.

Yet she is much closer to the chrs , having lived with them all her life, she has distinct hopes and fears on their behalf and from time to time even plays a role in the action.

  • We need to offset for perceived biases, self-interest, love, hatred, envy, fondness, immaturity, personal agenda
nellie as narrator10
Nellie as narrator
  • In Ch 12 Nellie is “convinced that the Grange had but one sensible soul in its walls, and that lodged in my (her) body” and went about her duties as if nothing was the matter though Catherine was starving herself to death…
  • And was convinced ‘that she acted a part of her disorder” and felt that “she believed she was dying.”…
limitations of the narrator
Limitations of the narrator
  • However, later when Nellie describes Catherine’s corpse to the invalid Lockwood, she interrupts her own tale with a question that confesses to her own limitations as a narrator:

“One might have doubted, after the wayward and impatient existence she had led, whether she merited a haven of peace at last…Do you believe such people are happy in the other world, sir? I’d give a great deal to know.”

  • Here, the conventional wisdom of Nellie Dean struggles to understand the life and death of her mistress, Catherine.
  • Her morality cannot understand the tragic passions of Heathcliff and Catherine as she asks, an equally ignorant or if not the more superficial Lockwood answers, to inexplicable questions of the universe.
reliability of nellie s narration
Reliability of Nellie’s Narration
  • Nellie’s reliability as a narrator is once again questioned when:

she deliberately and willfully keeps away knowledge of Catherine’s mental and physical deterioration from Edgar.

  • Could Nellie have helped save the relationship as Catherine desperately needed Edgar to reassure her of his love for her? “Nelly, if it be not too late, as soon as I learn how he (Edgar) feels, I’ll choose between these two…”

A symbol of Catherine’s struggle to find an equilibrium between the forces of nature and the civilised world

  • “… but it is nothing” says Nelly Dean though “the haggardness of Mrs Linton’s appearance smote him (Edgar) speechless.”
  • “ I (Nelly) began to defend myself, thinking it too bad to be blamed for another’s (Catherine’s) wicked waywardness.”
the mirror and its significance
The Mirror and its Significance
  • Only Catherine and Nelly are in the closed room, yet Catherine apprehends danger lurking nearby.
  • While gazing into the mirror, she calls out: "Don't you see that face?" After trying to calm her, Nelly takes Catherine's hand and resolutely declares: "There's nobody here! . . . It was yourself Mrs. Linton, you knew it a while since." But Catherine refuses to be appeased, and Nelly tries again: "That is the glass-the mirror, Mrs. Linton; and you see yourself in it, and there I am too, by your side" (12:105-6).
  • Nelly's reflection in the mirror, beside Catherine, hints at Catherine's fears that, because of her own weakening will, Nelly will soon seize control.
the clash of wills nelly catherine
The Clash of Wills – Nelly & Catherine
  • Nelly projects herself (un)consciously into Catherine's tormented life, describes the stage of Catherine's youthful stormy love for Heathcliff as a tempestuous, wild, impulsive and aggressive outburst.
  • Nelly shows little sympathy, and she does not in general reveal any true understanding except in the most difficult moments.
  • The reader's sympathy for Catherine increases the more that Nelly distances herself from the heroine of her story.
effects of bronte s narrative structure the double narrative and multiple voices
Effects of Bronte’s Narrative Structure ( the double narrative and multiple voices)
  • highlights the mysteries and uncertainties around characters and situations, and the sharp conflicts that arise
  • conveys the personal limitations of both the narrators
  • conveys diverse perceptions of human nature
  • portrays class divisions and prejudices
  • enhances our understanding of the conflict between nature and civil society with its religious and societal norms and expectations that tend to repress the free spirit and the animus.
ch 13
Ch 13
  • Isabella’s letter – conveys how the “species has been weakened by poor breeding methods, hyper-domestication, and the hyper-adaptation of external nature to humanity’s fallen nature.” Barbara Munson Goff Between Natural Theology and Selection: Breeding the Human Animal in Wuthering Heights
  • Isabella represents an extreme case of characters struggling to adapt to the natural world having cut themselves from the land that created the wealth.
  • However, being a survivor she decides, “I’m not going to act the lady among you, for fear I should starve.”
  • Catherine Linton (second generation) most adaptable of all characters: she is able to survive the ruggedness of the Heights but thrives in the civility of the Grange.
isabella s letter and its significance
Isabella’s letter and its significance
  • Echoes Cathy’s first unplanned visit to the Grange, when Skulker prevented her from escaping.
  • Throttler is Skulker’s pup, but instead of preventing Isabella from running away, he dissuades her from entering the house.
  • The inhabitants of Wuthering Heights display the same sentiments.
  • Isabella is met by young Hareton, who greets her with an oath and threat to set Throttler on her if she does not “frame off.”

“hey Throttler, lad! whispered the little wretch, rousing a half bred bull dog from its lair in a corner.”

  • Joseph makes fun of Isabella’s speech, which strikes him as affected

“Mim! mim! mim! Did iver Christian body hear owt like it? Minching and munching! Hah can Aw tell whet ye say?”

isabella s letter
Isabella’s letter
  • Bronte’s use of direct speech in Isabella’s letter within Nelly’s narrative discourse, and her use of dialects and idiolects:

gives credence to Isabella’s account

creates a sense of immediacy – we are made to feel, hear and see what happens at WH.

conveys vividly the conflicts that arise between Isabella and the inhabitants of WH.

isabella s language in the letter
Isabella’s language in the letter
  • Reflects the arrogance of the gentile class, their prejudices and an awareness of the importance of personal property and inheritance.

“ I entered the kitchen – a dingy, untidyhole”

“ruffianly child, strong in limb and dirty in garb”

“I must shake hands, and – yes - I must kiss him.”

“He replied in a jargon I did not comprehend”

“This is Edgar’s legal nephew,” I reflected. It is right to establish a good understanding at the beginning.”

“Shall you and I be friends, Hareton?” was my next essay at conversation.

“Where is my maid servant? Direct me to her, as she won’t come to me!”


isabella s account conveys man s greed and his territorial ruthless nature
Isabella’s account: conveys Man’s greed and his territorial, ruthless nature
  • Displayed in Hindley’s response in direct speech:

“No,” thundered Earnshaw, “should he offer to leave me he is a dead man, persuade him to attempt it, and you are a murderess! Am I to lose all, without a chance of retrieval? Is Hareton to be a beggar? Oh, damnation! I will have it back: I’ll have his gold too; and then his blood; and hell shall have his soul!

man protects his turf
Man protects his turf
  • Nelly’s perception of Edgar’s “kindest caresses” and “fondest words.”

“Ah I thought myself, she might recover, so waited on as she was. And there was double cause to desire it, for on her existence depended that of another; we cherished the hope that in a little while, Mr. Linton’s heart would be gladdened, and his lands secured from a stranger’s gripe, by the birth of an heir”.

How accurate is Nelly’s reading of Edgar’s love for Catherine? Does he care only about protecting his assets as she hints?

bronte s use of animal imagery
Bronte’s use of animal imagery
  • speculates and explores the emotional and moral similarities between Man and beast. The ‘Animal Nature of human beings.”
  • uses words to describe animals and humans interchangeably.
  • to comment on Man’s refusal to recognise the fundamental connection between humans and animals.
bronte s use of animal imagery to describe the elemental nature of the inhabitants of wh
Bronte’s use of animal imagery to describe the elemental nature of the inhabitants of WH
  • “Hareton seized and commenced drinking (milk in a gallon pitcher) and spilling from the expansive lip.”
  • “The infant ruffian continued sucking, glowered up at me defyingly, as he slavered into the jug.”
  • “I assure you a tiger or a venomous serpent could not rouse terror in me equal to that which he (Heathcliff) wakens.”
  • “Is he come back, then?” asked the hermit, glaring like a hungry wolf.
nest of little lapwing skeletons ch 12
Nest of little lapwing skeletons Ch 12
  • Catherine “in her feverish bewilderment…tore the pillow with her teeth…”
  • Cathy says that HC set a trap over the nest of some lapwings; the older birds wouldn’t come near it, so the babies died.
  • In a similar manner parent-child relationships in the novel are distorted and cruel. Mr. Earnshaw detests Hindley; Hindley nearly kills Hareton; and Hindley as a substitute father mistreats Cathy and Heathcliff. Heathcliff as a substitute father, does everything he can to degrade Hareton.
  • Like the trap over the nest the child is portrayed as being as vulnerable as the lapwing babies at the mercy of adults.
nature red in tooth and claw27
Nature, red in tooth and claw
  • Catherine’s remarks, “I made him (Heathcliff) promise he’d never shoot a lapwing, after that, and he didn’t.”
  • The bird was not shot but it was Nature that prevents the birds from getting to the nest. “We saw its nest in the winter , full of little skeletons.”
  • The nest of little lapwing skeletons is God’s, winter’s, or the mother’s work not Heathcliff’s.
  • However, Catherine fears that circumstances may bring out the worst in Heathcliff.
nature both predatory and healing source of life and death creative and destructive
Nature both predatory and healing / source of life and death / creative and destructive

Catherine: “I’m sure I should be myself were I once among the heather on those hills…Open the window again wide, fasten it open! Quick why don’t you move?”

Nelly: “Because I won’t give you your death of cold.”

Catherine: “Because you won’t give me a chance of life, you mean.”

Catherine: “However, I’m not helpless yet, I’ll open it myself…careless of the frosty air that cut about her shoulders as keen as a knife.”

  • Parallel structures in their discourse bring out the duality in Nature.
golden crocuses
Golden crocuses
  • Mr. Linton had put on her pillow…a handful of golden crocuses
  • These are the earliest flowers at the Heights!...They remind me of soft thaw winds, and warm sunshine, and nearly melted snow.
  • Linton lavished on her the fondest words; but vaguely regarding the flowers…
pigeons feathers
Pigeons’ feathers
  • Some parallels between Catherine’s illness and Emily Bronte’s wilful and persistent walk towards her death.
  • “they put pigeons’ feathers in the pillows – no wonder I couldn’t die.”