Wuthering Heights —— The Structure and Style Transcend the Time Emily Bronte describes the principal human conflict as one between the individual and the dark, questioning universe, a universe symbolized, in Wuthering Heights, both by man’s threatening and inner nature, and by nature in its more impersonal sense, the wild lonesome mystery of the moors. The structure and narrative style of Wuthering Heights transcend her time. Emily didn’t follow the regular and secular romantic writing techniques at that time, in contrast, she surpassed and created some new skills which modern readers are apt to understand and love.
In this article, you will find the following six aspects of the writing style, including the approach of the story’s center step by step with spiral circle, the end echoes the beginning, symbolism of the two generations, the love which makes the negative turn to be positive, the dark satanic hero, and the alternant emotion with contradiction throughout the whole story. Emily has written a novel which seeks to move ever closer to the center of a unique and remarkable human relationship, and the very structure of her book emphasizes this movement.
In Chapter One, for example, readers are as far as possible from the heart of the story’s experience due to the innocent guesses of Lockwood (the narrator or diarist). However, later chapters move progressively closer to the heart of the story, and the beginning, with its subtle suggestions of an old tragedy and with Lockwood’s naive judgments of Heathcliff, will come to be prophetic. Therefore, the plot of Wuthering Heights is not sequential and linear, but described as a spiral circle compared with other coetaneous novels.
That is to say, readers have been always following Lockwood to circle around the center of the story step by step, until the origin of the tragedy vividly comes in front of their eyes. In spite of the spiral circle, the end echoes the beginning, which is another exquisite narrative technique, capture readers’ hearts. The last chapter tells of Heathcliff’s slow disintegration and death. The death itself is preceded by a fasting, reminiscent of the fasting which precipitated Catherine’s final illness.
Because Heathcliff is described as robust and healthy shortly before his sudden decline, we suppose that it is his overwhelming desire or will to die and to return to his beloved Catherine, the thought of which “lights his face with a strange joy”(Wuthering Heights 137) for days, that really kills him, and not the mere abstinence from food. The structure of the book achieves an almost perfect symmetry in the death of Heathcliff. And the end of the novel as at the beginning, the master spirit is staring out into a storm, searching for Catherine.
Emily Bronte features similar destiny about the two generations, but different endings of them. She describes this kind of symbolism by giving the names Catherine and Linton. Both Catherine (Catherine Earnshaw and Catherine Linton) marries Linton (Edgar Linton and Linton Heathcliff), who they don’t love most. The mother Catherine dies before the book is half over, but her spirit continues to rage in the turbulent air of Wuthering Heights, haunting Heathcliff, and also returns, healthily subdued, in her daughter Cathy. The daughter finally gains happiness which stretches over two generations.
And we may say that these two Catherine can be considered as one person who is also the heroine throughout the whole story. The other is about Linton. Linton Heathcliff, who is “a nervous, sickly, effeminate child, weak-willed and petulant like his mother, and, like her, the pitiful victim and tool of his father” (Wuthering Heights 112)inherits disadvantages from both sides of his parents——the peevishness and
Heathcliff and Catherine suffer from the separation for many years even after the heroine’s death. Only death can bring them together because of those insurmountable social and conceptual gaps even though Catherine’s nature is “a nature that is one with Heathcliff’s” (Wuthering Heights 58). Heathcliff’s whole life is an embodiment of the force of evil. Contemplating his history is like peering at a beloved film of a picture: everything that should be dark is fading and everything that should be light is covered with darkness.
Heathcliff and Catherine love each other by inflicting pain on one another instead of permitting pleasure. They did not live together when they were alive; they could love together after they died. They sustained themselves not by eating but by refusing to eat. It is Emily Bronte’s triumph as novelist that as her book proceeds, the negative becomes positive. Even in the end, through the rumors, “Catherine and Heathcliff walk the moors at night and even appear within the house at Wuthering Heights. (Wuthering Heights 140) They finally get together after they died and the negative death turns to a positive and extricable ending. And about the typical hero of the novel, Heathcliff is one of the most attractive characters in the history. To answer the question why he is so popular, it should be attributed to the black description of this “dark Satanic” hero. “Heathcliff, of course, is frequently compared to a demon by the other characters in the book. ” (Sparknotes: Literature Study Guides: Wuthering Heights: Analysis of Major Characters) At first glance he may seem entirely wicked, even a criminal.
The vicious way in which he destroys Hindley and brutalizes Isabella suggests that he is a man for whom sympathy ought to be impossible. Yet Emily Bronte manages her dark hero a sympathetic figure. When he has gone so far as to drive Lockwood out into the storm alone, there comes one of the overwhelmingly lyric moments in the novel as Heathcliff leans far out of the window and implores the spirit of Catherine to come in. The depth of feeling, the compassion of which Heathcliff is plainly capable in this scene, forces us to reconsider our judgment of the man.
Without question he is brutal, but just as plainly he has within him the potential for great tenderness and love. Obviously, this potential has been destroyed somewhere along the line, and those readers, their interest aroused in how this could have happened, read on. Besides the hero, Heathcliff, who we love to hate, the fluctuation of alternant emotion is also a point of contradiction throughout the novel — — violent but dreamlike, brutal but romantic, fanatical but gloomy, all of these consist of a piece of deserted wilderness with mysterious beauty.
Readers easily feel lost into the anxiety and disturbance that Emily delivered to them, as well as the desire to explore the ins and outs of the whole story under an intangible force. And the last paragraph that Lockwood said to himself in the end of the novel gives readers a peaceful and harmonious aftertaste despite of all the thrilling revenge and love. “Under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth. The metaphor here is about the hard “heath”, which is a part of Heathcliff, comparing with soft wind, in order to leave hope for readers. The six aspects above can be divided into two parts: the structure and the characters which of both have been created surpassing the time of Emily Bronte. On one hand, the spiral circle and the correlation between the end and the beginning, is the key to the structure of the novel. The book begins in 1801, on the very rim of the tale, long after the principal incidents of the story have taken place.
Readers are far from the heart of the novel in the first pages, however, blundering along with the guide Lockwood later. Gradually we spiral in toward the center. But neither Lockwood nor Dean is unperceptive and we must struggle hard before we can actually achieve the true center of the novel, the passionate last meeting of Heathcliff and Cathy in which, for a moment, we are permitted to stare into the heart of the fiery furnace. On the other hand, about the most powerful character in the novel, the darkness and violence that was in Heathcliff from the beginning, is in every man.
And because this darkness is so primal and so universal, it can never be overcome. It persists, implacable and unchangeable, a comment not just on one man’s special sorrow but on every man’s dark heritage. That is why a dark Satan is more attractive than a pure Angel in readers’ hearts. And Heathcliff is a powerful figure not only because he is rooted in the traditions of his own time, from which he draws strength, but also because he makes a universal statement about man’s nature, which continues to strike readers today as remarkably fresh and modern.
Therefore, no matter the structure or the character that attracts lots of readers in history, the remarkable sense of the privacy of human experience, is clearly the central vision of Wuthering Heights and it is always being transcending the time. Works Cited Bronte, Emily, Wuthering Heights, Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, 2005 Gui Tuoqing, Selected Readings in English and American Literature, Beijing: China Foreign language Translation Press, 1985 Wuthering Heights, http://www. sparknotes. com/lit/wuthering/canalysis. html ??? , ?????? ,?? :??????? ,1994 ??? , ?????????? ,?? :????????? ,2000