What Conclusions Do You Draw About Bront?S Essay, Research Paper
Bront?s novel seems to contain all the typical,
traditional Victorian social values and divisions such
as the master of the house with servants below him and
so on. Social distinctions were very much more marked
and rigidly respected. We first glimpse what Bront?
might think of social stereotypes and divisions, right
at the start of the book through Lockwood, and later
through other narrators such as Nelly Dean.
Lockwood is seen as the epitome of Victorian social
values and ideals, he is a normal Victorian gentleman
an agreeable but shallow character. He is perhaps a
sketchy attempt to portray a sophisticated townie. He
is a well meaning but rather confused and superficial
person, who is naive but also shows signs of maturity
and intelligence inspite of moments of conceit.
Lockwood is an honest narrator with no hidden agenda,
his ordinariness, like Nelly contributes to the
credibility of the events he is caught up in and hears
of. Lockwood is used by Bront? to show what Victorians
would think of what they saw or heard, using their
social values. Right from the beginning of the book
Lockwood tries to place Wuthering Heights into his own
conceptions of what society should be, he tries to put
people in boxes, to label them, to socially stereotype
them. Bront? makes a fool of Lockwood, perhaps showing
that she disagrees with the idea of placing people in
Lockwood views Wuthering Heights as a fairly
unfriendly place, and his narrative of the place and
the people in it suggests strangeness, conflict and
perhaps the abuse of physical and social power. This
is clear from Heathcliff?s obvious suspicion of
?He evidently wished no repetition of my intrusion..
It is astonishing how sociable I feel myself compared
It is also made clear from Joseph?s sour aloofness
and in the aggressive manner of the dogs. The
description of the whole place makes it seem a very
unfriendly and cold dwelling. However Lockwood also
sees a parallel to this strangeness in seeing what is
ordinary, familiar and friendly such as the unseen
kitchen and the carefully described dresser. Lockwood
has various Victorian, preconceptions of social class,
and places Wuthering Heights within these conceptions,
which are shattered as the plot unfolds, the social
stereotypes that he has are turned on their head.
Bront? writes in such a way that we are not meant to
sympathise with Lockwood, he is made out to be
foolish, and his ideas with them. This could be seen
as Bront? saying that you cannot socially stereotype
people, however she herself stereotypes in the book
with the Lintons a ?typical? Victorian family, the
epitome of Victorian social values.
The Lintons of Thrushcross Grange it seems are almost
complete opposites to the Earnshaws of Wuthering
Heights. The Earnshaws are seen as social outcasts,
?children of the storm? whereas the Lintons are the
cream of Victorian society, ?children of calm?. The
Lintons are portrayed as very wealthy, respectable and
morally conventional, they are a products of their
class. Thrushcross Grange itself takes the stereotype
of the family further.
?..ah! it was beautiful – a splendid place carpeted
with crimson, and crimson-covered chairs and
tables,and a pure white ceiling bordered by gold, a
shower of glass-dropshanging in silver chains from the
centre, and shimmering with little soft tapers.?
This description of the place, lavishly furnished
with lots of very rich colours like crimson gives the
impression of great wealth but the place is too
perfect, it is too well furnished so that it has a
claustrophobic nature, almost smothering the people in
it. Edgar and Isabella are made to seem foolish by
Bront?, they are seen as petty and snobbish and weak -
?He lacked spirit in general.? The way that the
Lintons relate and interact with the other characters
also makes them seem weak. Edgar is physically
inferior to Heathcliff, just as Isabella is both
physically and emotionally inferior to Catherine.
Isabella is made out to be quite pathetic, fainting,
whining and weeping with her infatuation for
Heathcliff. She is seen to be degrading herself by
loving Heathcliff. The Lintons are the extreme version
of the Victorian values of the time, and these values
through the Lintons are perhaps undermined my Bront?.
However Bront? does evoke some sympathy for the
Lintons because of the harsh way they are treated, and
the Lintons are no different from the Earnshaws in
that they are both extremes of society. Bront? uses
both ?people put in boxes? and individuals, the
Lintons are ?Victorians? but characters like
Heathcliff are completely individual.
Heathcliff is a character would the reader could
either sympathise with, or who can be seen as evil. In
Heathcliff there is almost a Satanic hero, an idea
which may have come to Bront? from Byron, in such
verse tales as Lara and The Giaour. The Satan figure
develops other characteristics: He is defiant, anti
social, and his origins are hidden and he is
associated with fatal love. These traits are
applicable to Heathcliff as a tragic hero, ?the fallen
angel?. It could be said that Heathcliff is the
non-human element of man, natural but detached and
impersonal. Bront? could also have made Heathcliff a
political statement in that he is a poor child
transformed to a wealthy landlord, or a symbol of the
working class degraded by an uncaring Victorian
society. In my view Bront? views Heathcliff as
worthwhile. As the (depressingly boring) poet William
Wordsworth wrote; ?The child is the father of the man?
, and I think this paradox applies to Heathcliff in
that his boyhood experiences, i.e. neglect and ill
treatment determine his character when mature, and
this is why I think Bront? thinks him worthwhile and
why the reader has a degree of sympathy for him.
Lockwood views Heathcliff as having ?A genuine bad
nature? and by Nelly (when a landowner) as ?rough as a
saw-edge and hard as whinstone?. The way Heathcliff
acts is such that it seems that he has no regard for
social conventions, as with Catherine when a child
until her stay at Thrushcross Grange where she picks
up the Lintons social values and is ?Socially
seduced.? As an adult she regards Heathcliff as
inferior to her, something beneath her social status.
Throughout book one Bront? undermines the social
values of her time. She does this in many ways, right
from the start with the narration of Lockwood who we
as readers are obviously not meant to sympathise with.
He is the ?model Victorian? along with the Lintons who
also do not gain much sympathy. These characters with
?correct? social values and high status are the
weakest characters, whereas the Earnshaws who are
social outcasts are the stronger set of characters. In
my view Bront? criticises socially labelling people,
with people like Heathcliff who cannot possibly be
placed in a social mould, he is an individual. The
stark contrast between the Lintons and the Earnshaws
is obvious, they are two ends of the spectrum of
society, and perhaps Bront? is saying through the
novel that neither ?works?, and that something
in-between the two is needed.
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