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Emily Bronte Wuthering Heights, 1847. What is Romanticism and (why) is WH a Romantic text? What is the position of WH in relationship to Romanticism ?

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Presentation on theme: "Emily Bronte Wuthering Heights, 1847. What is Romanticism and (why) is WH a Romantic text? What is the position of WH in relationship to Romanticism ?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Emily Bronte Wuthering Heights, 1847

2 What is Romanticism and (why) is WH a Romantic text? What is the position of WH in relationship to Romanticism ? Importance of individual and individual’s creative talent Subjectivity (visionary, non-rational sense) Quasi-religious symbolic language Value of nature in reaction to industrialisation and urbanisation Challenge to conventional morality; personally liberalising ethical codes Existing social order questioned Politically radical Emotions valued more highly than rationality Admired innocence; accompanying senses of wonder, alienation, terror, madness Altered states of consciousness Heroic figures and heroic deeds National past discovered/fabricated – exoticism and heroism Rebellious anti-heroes sought out, invented or re-interpreted

3 Sorting out the story

4 Biography: Myth and Truth CB: insisted that Emily was an innocent, “homebred country girl” who did not have full control over her talents; the involuntary creative process; see p.19 Stoneman Garnered respectability and sympathy

5 Historical Context Change 1800-1850s – Industrialisation – changes to working and middle classes – Pop doubled in Brit to > 20 mill – New canals; better roads; better steamships; 1840s: telegraph, penny post, pillar box, photography = better communication – National railways system (1815 – steam engine); 1837 London to Manchester et al – 1829 police force Post war depressions leading to national unrest and increased repression – Combination Acts 1799 and 1800 – 1811-1816 Luddite – Bread riots in East Anglia – 1819 Peterloo (St Peter’s Field, Manchester – 400 wounded, 11 dead) – 1832 Reform Act – 1837 spread of police force out from London – 1838 ‘The People’s Charter’: demanded male suffrage, secret voting, equal electoral districts, payment of MPs – ‘hungry forties’

6 Historical Context 2: Politics Brontes were Tories – had ruled almost continuously since 1783; supported landed interests; Corn Laws – protection for ag but increased the price of a working class staple; origin of word ‘breadwinner’ Catholic Emancipation Act 1829 supported by Brontes; but anti-Catholic 1851 Great Exhibition; Crystal Palace: nationalism, empire, commercialism, consumerism

7 Historical Context 3: Social structures Social class: benevolence from superiors and deference from inferiors 1801: 2/3 of pop rural; end of century: 2/3 of pop urban Haworth a small industrial area – wool; poor housing and sanitation for workers; avg age of death 25 Lower classes: meatless diet, no vote – Mechanics institutes e.g. Keighley; Sunday school – Charity schools Brontes: lower class in terms of money; middle class in terms of education – Governess Paternalism – regarded by most upper classes as answer to inequality: JS Mill, The Principles of Political Economy, 1848: points out ironically: ‘the lot of the poor in all things which affect them collectively’ will be ‘ regulated for them, not by them’

8 Historical Context 4: Women Women’s functions in society biologically determined: ideal domesticated middle class wife; irrational, intuitive, emotional, natural maternal instinct with nurturing abilities; lacked male characteristics Non-existence of women in marriage in law: could not litigate; early 1830s no right to children in event of separation; 1839 custody for children under 7; money of wife became that of husband (unless prenup); divorce = act of parliament 1851 25, 000 governesses; avg salary £25-50 1850s Florence Nightingale: nursing given status suitable for middle class women 1840s 30 x no. Of governesses as dom servants Mary Taylor to Charlotte: – “I have seen some extracts from Shirley in which you talk of women working. And this first duty, this great necessity you seem to think that some women may indulge in – if they give up marriage and don't make themselves too disagreeable to the other sex. You are a coward and a traitor. A woman who works is by that alone better than one who does not and a woman who does not happen to be rich and who still earns no money and does not wish to do so, is quilt of a great fault – almost a crime.” True middle class women were without sexual feeling – medical opinion; guilt

9 Historical Context 5: Religion Patrick: Anglican; establishment Late C18th – Methodism- focus on individual story and enthusiasm – emotional approach Tractarians – seen as close to RC

10 Historical Context 6: The Mind CB and EB depressive; EB possible anorexic Madness not a medical matter; seen as deviants (along with paupers and criminals); v. Few asylums existed C18th madness = overthrow of reason by passion; treatment: restraint C19th demand for state run asylums, supported by evangelicals (to be saved) and doctors (some money to be made) Mid C19th – alienist (alienation of the mind) Early C18th: physiognomy and phrenology; mid C19th: mesmerism Women and mental disorder: nervous collapse, melancholia, monomania: seen as a physical dysfunction of one part of the brain resulting in a pathological obsession in an otherwise healthy mind; moral insanity: patient seriously broached social rules

11 Historical Context 7: Empire Empire a commercial enterprise From England: guns, gunpowder, knives, beads, mirrors, alcohol Slavery: ‘Am I not a man and a brother?’ - abolition; JMW Turner, 1783, ‘The Slave Ship’

12 Reception Monstrous (+ and – connotations); mesmerising power Complaints against subject matter – violence, sex, morality – and language – coarse, rough, savage Emily’s power recognised even in those reviews that found fault: “It is the unformed writing of a giant’s hand; the ‘large utterance’ of a baby god.” (Sydney Dobell) – see pp. 14-15 in Stoneman Once Ellis known to be Emily (confusion of lives and works of the Brontes through the Victn era) – identification of Gothic features led to feminisation and therefore dismissal Late C19th: “Its power is absolutely Titanic” George Barnet Smith, 1857 – myth of neglected genius Mary F Robinson, Emily, 1883: continues myth of neglected genius; damaging effects of Branwell; morally righteous especially in feminist context; “Charlotte’s image of Emily as rustic recluse was refined by Robinson into a modern Joan of Arc: chaste, courageous, combative.” (Stoneman, p. 28); greater focus on aesthetic achievement than moral questions Mary Ward, late-Victn critic: “is a book of the later Romantic movement, betraying... The Romantic tendency to invent and delight in monsters, the exaltation du mis, which has been said to be the secret of the whole Romantic revolt against classical models and restraints; the love of violence in speech and action, the preference for the hideous in character and the abnormal in situation – of all these there are abundant examples in Wuthering Heights.”

13 Poetry Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell, (1846) Poems thought to be referred to in WH – No coward soul is mine – The soft unclouded blue of air – I do not weep, I would not weep – I’ll not weep that tour art going to leave me – Anticipation – Remembrance – Well some may hate and some may scorn – Sleep brings no joy to me

14 ‘To imagination’ When weary with the long day's care, And earthly change from pain to pain, And lost, and ready to despair, Thy kind voice calls me back again: Oh, my true friend! I am not lone, While then canst speak with such a tone! So hopeless is the world without; The world within I doubly prize; Thy world, where guile, and hate, and doubt, And cold suspicion never rise; Where thou, and I, and Liberty, Have undisputed sovereignty. What matters it, that all around Danger, and guilt, and darkness lie, If but within our bosom's bound We hold a bright, untroubled sky, Warm with ten thousand mingled rays Of suns that know no winter days? Reason, indeed, may oft complain For Nature's sad reality, And tell the suffering heart how vain Its cherished dreams must always be; And Truth may rudely trample down The flowers of Fancy, newly-blown: But thou art ever there, to bring The hovering vision back, and breathe New glories o'er the blighted spring, And call a lovelier Life from Death. And whisper, with a voice divine, Of real worlds, as bright as thine. I trust not to thy phantom bliss, Yet, still, in evening's quiet hour, With never-failing thankfulness, I welcome thee, Benignant Power; Sure solacer of human cares, And sweeter hope, when hope despairs!

15 Literary Context Read Wordsworth, Southey, Byron (p. 75-6 Ingham), Scott, Gothic novels Emily’s poem ‘To imagination’ Diary papers reveal lack of distinction between real and imaginary worlds Angria and Gondal – Gondal Emily and Anne replaced hero with a heroine – Augusta Geraldine Almeda: attractive and ruthless Poetry more prized than prose; although Dickens increasing in popularity; seen as moral Increasing literacy; lending libraries and 3 vol. Format; role lending libraries in censorship, guiding public taste The standards applied to authors of either sex...The requirements are: circumspection in handling anything even distantly related to religion; extreme reticence in sexual matters which must be euphemistically treated; abstention from too close an examination of the seamy side of life (violence, cruelty, alcoholism, adultery, bigamy); and above all the inculcation of a moral lesson, preferably by a display of poetic justice for the sinner.” (p. 89, Ingham)

16 Literary Context 2 CB: Biographical Preface: Tenant was “an entire mistake” – a defence of Anne’s character (at the expense of the book) CB asserted that Emily’s isolated life and reclusive nature meant that she was ignorant of the human nature which was the stuff of novels and had listened to old wives tales of ‘tragic and terrible traits’ in ‘the secret annals of very rude vicinage’. In saying this Charlotte apparently accepts the mistaken belief that Haworth was a barbaric and remote place and implies that these tales fired Emily’s vivid imagination and led her to create Heathcliff...Crucially having ‘formed these beings, she did not know what she had done’. Charlotte...search[es] for some moral role models in the text: ‘the true benevolence’ of Nelly Dean and ‘the constancy and tenderness’ of Edgar Linton.” (pp92-93 Ingham)

17 Literary Context 3 ‘Wuthering Heights’ was hewn in a wild workshop, with simple tools, out of homely materials. The statuary found a granite block on a solitary moor; gazing thereon, he saw how from the crag might be elicited a head, savage, swart, sinister; a form moulded with at least one element of grandeur- power...With time and labour, the crag took human shape; and there it stands, colossal, dark and frowning, half statue, half rock: in the former sense, terrible and goblin- like; in the latter, almost beautiful (CB Letters, p. 93 Ingham)


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