Analyse the features that makes Wuthering Heights chapters 1 and 20 particularly powerful Essay
In chapter 1 and 20 of ‘Wuthering Heights’ (volume 2),Nelly Dean relates the events leading to the deaths of Catherine and Heathcliff. Analyse the features that makes these chapters particularly powerful, and comment on the influence of the Gothic Novel on Bronti??’s writing. Bronti??’s writing contains many different language features, some of these features are used to emphasise an action or a dramatic scene. In the first and last chapters, Bronti?? uses imagery, the supernatural, references to death and dramatic verbs to enhance emotional sections of the novel.
Literary heritage influenced Bronti??’s work, and can be seen numerous times throughout the book, particularly in chapter 20,where elements of the popular Gothic Novel style of writing can be recognized. The Gothic Novel, or Gothic Romance was widely accepted in the 18th and 19th century. Authors of this form of writing included Walpole and Radcliffe, their novels contained violent explosions of extreme feeling, supernatural and fantastic events.
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Another literary type has been linked to ‘Wuthering Heights’, that is the Byronic Hero; This refers to the male characters in the poems and plays of Byron, depicted as powerful, attractive, melancholy and brutal – not dissimilar to Heathcliff’s qualities. Bronti?? uses changes in the characters, such as unexpected behaviour as a portent of important parts of the play, particularly death. Chapter 1,Volume 2, holds an example of these omens; Cathy the normally headstrong, active person seems strangely sad and inactive. In Volume 1 Cathy displays her emotions but in a controlled way.
During her encounter with Heathcliff in the first chapter, she lets her true feelings out in a passionate scene of recrimination, ‘”Why shouldn’t you suffer? I do! “‘ This change may have been brought about because she only then realised her true situation. Another personality change happens in this chapter, this time to Heathcliff; his emotions, which had been rarely shown up to this point in the book, are unleashed when he meets the dying Catherine, a surprising event for the reader, who was led to believe that passionate emotions were way beyond his capacity.
In this Chapter, even Edgar puts his abhorrence for Heathcliff to one side when he returns from church to find Catherine dead. Chapter 20 includes important, character changes, occurring to Heathcliff. The main transformation in him was, “eating once every 24 hours seemed sufficient sustenance for him. ” Also, Heathcliff didn’t appear to be sleeping, as Nelly narrates: “one night, after the family was in bed, I heard him go down stairs, and out at the front door: I did not hear him re-enter and, in the morning he was still away.
The author gives the idea of Heathcliff being excited, waiting for something to happen, which is unlike his normal sombre self: ‘he had a strange joyful glitter in his eyes. ‘ Catherine’s ghost, haunting Heathcliff brings about this change and further evidence of detachment from ordinary life. In chapter 20 Heathcliff enters a room for his dinner, and suddenly rushes out again. The supernatural has a large part to play in the 2 chapters, inspired perhaps by the Gothic Novel writers of Bronti??’s era.
In the first chapter, in which Catherine dies, Nelly notices that Catherine’s gaze seems fixed beyond objects around her and the servant makes a comment about the invalid’s state: “You would have said out of this world. ” Heathcliff also accuses her of being “possessed of the devil” when Catherine condemns him of killing her just before her death. Cathy herself also makes idle chatter about the next life, saying; “I will be incomparably above and beyond you all. ” apparently aware of her fate. Supernatural events in the book give the sense of mystery but also hope for the ill-fated lovers that they will be together in the next life.
Chapter 20 is rich in supernatural occurrences and references. In the last chapter of the book, Heathcliff is referred to as all kinds of hellish demons, including vampire, ghost, ghoul and demon. A section of the chapter depicts Nelly, sensing Heathcliff’s impending death as a result of a dream, attempting to get Heathcliff to read the bible, supposedly to repent of his sins and get his ticket to heaven, but the soon- to- be-deceased refuses. Nelly tries to force her ideals upon him: “you have lived a selfish, unchristian life. ” The ending of the book is deeply centered on the occult.
Nelly states that many villagers from Gimmerton have spotted the ghosts of Heathcliff and Catherine walking together on the moors, and she herself claims to have felt their presence. On a happier note, Cathy and Hareton who are by now lovers, could, “fight off Satan and all his legions. ” The physical appearance of key characters is a factor that helps make the deaths of Catherine, and then Heathcliff more powerful. Catherine’s appearance is described as ghastly; “the paleness of her face,” and, “Her present countenance had a wild vindictiveness in its white cheek, and a bloodless lip, and scintillating eye.
This gives the impression that she is a being not of this world, which ties in with the supernatural elements in the novel. Catherine’s weakened state is exaggerated with the words ” I saw four distinct impressions in the colourless skin. ” this refers to where Heathcliff grasped her. Nelly plays down the fact that Catherine no longer takes pride in her appearance; “Her thick, long hair had been partly removed at the beginning of her illness, and now she wore it simply combed in its natural tresses” Chapter 20 contains much of the same kinds of description; only this time Heathcliff is the person being portrayed.
Nelly says he has “deep black eyes”, and “a ghastly paleness” Heathcliff’s sharp white teeth and parted lips are noticed at his death. Joseph notes, “what a wicked un he looks girnning at death! ” This gives the impression that Heathcliff was happy to die. There is a large and violent display of emotions in Chapter 1 but hardly any in the last chapter. The encounter of Heathcliff and Catherine for the last time is undoubtedly the most emotional part of the book, during the first few moments that he saw her, “he bestowed more kisses than ever he gave in his life before,” At this point, both characters know that the female is sure to die.
Catherine accuses Heathcliff: “You have killed me. ” The act of Heathcliff grabbing her and leaving impressions shows the violence of the act. Throughout this dramatic scene, Catherine seems to have a divided conscience concerning Heathcliff, one part condemning him and the other part forgiving him; “I only wish us never to be parted”, these concepts surface at different points during the chapter. Catherine proceeds with, “I forgive you. Forgive me! ” An important phrase from the section is “Why did you betray your own heart… the emotional quarrel ends with them weeping in each other’s arms. This shows the destructive nature of their love. Chapter 20 incorporates few violent emotional scenes other than Heathcliff’s death, the apparent reunited ghosts of Catherine and Heathcliff and the coming together of Cathy and Hareton and the arrangements for their marriage.
In the two chapters in question, the main characters, Heathcliff and Catherine, appear to welcome death and the text accommodates lots of references to death and dying, as shown on page 147: “I wish I could hold you till we were both dead! Heathcliff expresses his will to die when talking about the risk he was taking of meeting Edgar; “If he shot me so, I’d expire with a blessing on my lips. ” Thus meaning that they would rather both die than be without each other. Nelly, the main narrator, influences the way we view the text. She is loyal to her master, Edgar, and so her view of Catherine and Heathcliff is biased and her judgment is dubious in the way she describes the couple, Heathcliff in particular for example: “he said wildly” and, “it seemed Heathcliff could weep on a great occasion like this. ‘ Notice the emphasis on could.
Another example of this prejudiced attitude is, “Oh Mr Lockwood, I cannot express what a start I got by the momentary view! ” (referring to Heathcliff). Bronti?? uses hyperbole, over dramatic tone of voice and also excessive use of exclamation marks to show this. For the duration of the last chapter Nelly likens Heathcliff to all manner of beasts and uses villainous language to describe him. This partial view could lead the reader to view the character in a different way, but from Nelly’s previous mistakes and misjudgments from Volume 1, the analytical reader will take this into consideration before forming their opinion.
Bronti?? uses imagery, powerful verbs, similes and metaphors to make her writing more compelling. Catherine calls herself a “shattered prison” meaning that she has been enclosed in her earthly body, but soon she will break free, once again an association with the Gothic Novel style. In Chapter one, before Catherine dies, she sits next to an open window. This image could be interpreted as one life and the next, the open window being the ‘bridge’ or barrier between realms.
In chapters 1 and 20, just before the deaths of the respective characters, Nelly hears ‘the mellow flow of the beck’ chapter1, and ‘the murmuring of the beck’ chapter 20. These images create a sense of calmness and also add to Heathcliff and Catherine’s connection with nature. Chapter 1 and 20 of Volume 2 are, in some respects very similar to each other. In both sections, the characters are noted as having glazed eyes and looking at things that to others weren’t there. Open windows are present in the first and last chapters, suggesting the passage into the afterlife.
Catherine and Heathcliff’s appearances are described as pale and demonic. The small ‘box-room’ occurs throughout the novel and eventually, Heathcliff dies in it. Nelly refers to the noise of the nearby brook just before both characters died. Also, Heathcliff dies with a graze on his arm, just as Lockwood had after he met Catherine’s ghost, this suggests that Heathcliff met her ghost just before he died and would explain the grin on his face. The novel ends with the two couples together, one in life and one in death.