syllabus hotspot syllabus hotspot syllabus hotspot austen hotspot austen hotspot austen hotspot dickens hotspot dickens hotspot dickens hotspot dickens hotspot dickens hotspot eliot hotspot eliot hotspot eliot hotspot hardy hotspot thackeray hotspot thackeray hotspot thackeray hotspot thackeray hotspot thackeray hotspot novel page hotspot novel page hotspot novel page hotspot novel page hotspot


     This page is under construction.  Because of time constraints, I have only been able to jot down some notes on this topic.


  • Is the religious fervor of their love a sublimation of sexual passion?  The Spanish director Luis Buñuel focuses on the conflict between religious belief and sexual passion in his adaptation Los abismos de pasion.

  • Is the love of Catherine and Heathcliff sexual? Is it true that even when Catherine is clasped to Heathcliff's breast "we dare not doubt her purity" (Sidney Dobell, 1840); Swinburne agrees with Dobell because theirs is a "passionate and ardent chastity."

  • Incest:
    1. Is Heathcliff really Mr. Earnshaw's illegitimate son?
    2. If not, are Catherine and Heathcliff raised so like brother and sister that there is emotional incest? or the hint of incest? English law did not allow the marriage of siblings by adoption and of non-related/non-adopted children raised in the same household; this prohibition would seem to apply to Catherine and Heathcliff. Christopher Heywood suggests that by using the name of a son who had died, the Earnshaws precluded his marrying Catherine. Does this legal prohibition reinforce the implication of incest in their love? 
  • 3. Is Cathy really Heathcliff's child, so that Cathy and Linton are half brother and sister?

  •  If the marriage of Linton and Cathy is unconsummated, it could be declared void, if challenged. 

  • Richard Chase sees Emily, like her sisters, presenting a masculine universe informed by sexual energy or élan. Catherine seems to fear Heathcliff, presumably because, as the embodiment of the spirit of the wild Yorkshire moors and the universal élan, he cannot be tamed:

    We realize that with a few readjustments of the plot he need not have entered the story as a human being at all. His part might have been played by Fate or Nature or God or the Devil. He is sheer dazzling sexual and intellectual force. As Heathcliff expires at the end of the book, we feel, not so much that a man is dying, as that an intolerable energy is flagging. And we see that Heathcliff without energy cannot possibly survive in human form.... The two novels Wuthering Height and Jane Eyre end similarly: a relatively mild and ordinary marriage is made after the spirit of the masculine universe is controlled or extinguished.

  • The point about Heathcliff's impersonality or non-humanness has been made repeatedly by critics. According to Chase, both Emily and Charlotte Brontë suffered from a failure in nerve; in different ways, both backed off from uniting their heroines and their demonic lovers. Thus, in his reading,  their novels explore the neuroses of women in a patriarchal society.

  • Is Catherine's marrying Edgar is an attempt to escape the adult sexuality of Heathcliff? If so, then how do we account for her emphatic hope to produce several heirs for Edgar? And is there any reason to assume that Edgar is not capable of healthy or normal sexual relations?

Brontë: Table of Contents

Day 1

Overview of Emily Brontë
Publication of Wuthering Heights & Contemporary Critics
Later Critical response to Wuthering Heights
Film Versions of Wuthering Heights

Day 2 Themes in Wuthering Heights
The Narrator
Day 3 Wuthering Heights as Socio-Economic Novel
Psychological Interpretations of Wuthering Heights
Religion, Metaphysics, Mysticism and Wuthering Heights
The Gothic and Wuthering Heights
Romanticism and Wuthering Heights
Day 4

"I am Heathcliff"
Emily Bronte's Poetry


March 22, 2011