Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

B.A. with honors

Honors Designation

yes

Program of Study

English

Language

English

First Advisor

Stephanie Hershinow

Second Advisor

Mary McGlynn

Third Advisor

Timothy Aubry

Abstract

Emily Brontë (1818-1848) wrote Wuthering Heights in 1847 at a point of collision between Romantic thought and Victorian ideals. Her novel exemplifies a developed and deliberate effort to represent a world ruled by forces out of one’s control, the most evident example of this being the supernatural force that overtakes the novel. In her precise focus on the language and natural landscape that bind this novel together, her characters emerge as representative of the psychological complexity produced by the coexistence of the mundane and the extraordinary. My thesis focuses on the effects of the natural landscape and the forces that at times control it, but I also look at the psychological effects that these forces have on, in particular, the novel’s two main characters: Cathy and Heathcliff. Emily Brontë immersed these two characters in the natural world, highlighting their triumphs and tumultuous love. In better understanding this connection, I first look at the power behind nature, the supernatural forces governed by a Romantic aesthetic concept known as the sublime. After situating this novel in its literary historical context, I continue to move my analysis closer to the characters, looking specifically at Cathy and Heathcliff and showing both their individual and shared relationships with the natural world and the supernatural. I conclude in my last chapter of this thesis by returning to nature, revealing it to be a character as well. Overall, I read Brontë’s only novel as both grounded in its historical context (in its perpetuation of Romantic ideals and aesthetics) and forward-thinking in its imagining of new possibilities for engaging with the world.

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