[Abstract] Wuthering Heights is the only novel by Emily Brontë, an English woman writer in the 19th century. Also it is a piece of exquisite works of the world’s literature, which displays a sea of Gothic colors. This paper tries to make a research on the production of Wuthering Heights, basing on Gothic tradition of European and American literature. Emily Brontë makes use of and breaks through Gothic tradition in the facets of the portrayal of the characters and the use of image. Drawing on her extraordinary imagination, Emily succeeds in merging reality with Gothic techniques like symbolism, terror, and mystery, inputs the passionate feelings and energy into the old modes, and perfectly unites the Gothic form with passionate contents. The thesis aims at digging out some hidden implications in the novel from a new and different perspective to provide the reader with more enlightenment and speculation and tries at the same time to help the readers reread this novel from the angle of Female Gothic by displaying the surrealistic description of the devilish characters and the nightmares.
[Key Words] Wuthering Heights; Female Gothic novel; devilish characters; nightmares
【摘 要】 《呼啸山庄》是19世纪英国女作家艾米莉·勃朗特的惟一的一部小说，也是世界文学园地中的一朵奇葩，其中展现了大量的哥特色彩。本文立足于欧美文学中的哥特传统研究《呼啸山庄》的创作，作家艾米莉在人物形象和意象等方面都借鉴了哥特传统并有所突破；她凭借超乎寻常的想象力，将现实与象征、恐怖、神秘等哥特手法完美地结合在一起，给陈旧的形式注入了激烈情感和活力，达到哥特形式与激情内容的完美统一。笔者试图从一个新的角度——女性哥特来挖掘出《呼啸山庄》中尚未被挖掘出的一些新的意蕴和内涵。同时也希望通过展示魔鬼式人物和梦魇的超现实主义描写，使我们能够从女性哥特的角度解读这部小说。
Emily Brontë is an English woman writer of superb talent during the Victorian Age. She is well known for her only novel Wuthering Heights, a strange and powerful book, said by many to be the finest novel in the English language. Yet shortly after the desolate and shocking masterpiece comes out, it is attacked and blamed to be flooded with morbid psychology and paganism. “Anyone who did read it was repulsed by the brutality and violence of the characters” and by the fact that it differed so much from the romantic novels of the day. They do not want realism as Emily depicts it, and they do not want wild, fierce antiheroes like Heathcliff-who is more like a villain-or willful, passionate heroines like Catherine Earnshaw. And that is the reason why she is kept away from the mainstream of the nineteenth century literature, and do not receive her fair fame until the coming of the twentieth century. Both Emily and her works are mysterious and unique. There are various approaches applied by the critics to study Wuthering Heights from the aspects of the theme, the writing technique, love and revenge, and so on. However, there is hardly any attempt to research Wuthering Heights by combining its Gothic context with the feminist viewpoint. In view of this blank, the author is trying to reread this work as a Female Gothic novel mainly based on the following three facets: Firstly, in the history of English literature the early Gothic novels originated in the latter half of the eighteenth century. It was opportune that the whole story happened, developed, and ended in the period from 1771 to 1802. At that time, the English Gothic novels were catching on like fire throughout the country. With the development of Gothic novels people gradually forgot the early Gothic novels. Yet from the Brontë sisters’ Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights we can still find the Gothic features evidently. Secondly, since the Industrial Revolution in the second half of the eighteenth century, the class structure and people’s way of living in English society had undergone radical changes. People then were tired of the old living mode and expected something novel and pleasing, which formed the social basis for the production of Gothic novels. Finally, there are countless cultural ties between Wuthering Heights and its author. “Stronger than a man, simpler than a child.” Charlotte Brontë uses these words to describe her. Emily is the truly free spirit of the family, one who could not live away from her beloved extensive though dangerous and bleak moors-Haworth. Her father is of Irish stock and famous for his fluent speech and imagination. He plays a very important role in shaping Emily’s character and genius - “the temperament of the Irish - melancholy, passionate, proud, restless, eloquent, and witty – and the Methodist religious fervor and enthusiasm shown by the followers of John Wesley.” Besides “environment also played its part in creating the uniqueness of Emily Brontë. The village of Haworth was very isolated and intensely Yorkshire and the people living there were in strong contrast to the Celtic temperament. They were blunt, practical, stubborn, sparing of speech, vigorous, and harsh to the point of brutality.” The product of the moors exalts the spirit of Emily and fills her soul with the love of liberty. Another factor that influences Emily’s character is her brother, Branwell, the one to whom Emily has always been closest. Branwell’s falling prey to drink and drugs almost makes Emily’s heart broken. Because of his death, Emily never leaves the house again and insists on keeping up her regular round of duties. A few months after Branwell’s death, Emily dies at the age of thirty.
In conclusion, Emily Brontë “used the stark Yorkshire setting, not to create suspense and horror, as in the typical Gothic novel, but as a natural part of her story.” On one hand, she carries on the Gothic tradition in her creation of the novel. On the other hand, she has not just employed the mode but promotes some improvements in this old tradition. She used the skill of Female Gothic in her writing of the novel. In the following, the author is trying to make a study on Wuthering Heights from the aspects of the devilish characters and the terrifying nightmares.
2. From Gothic novel to Female Gothic novel
In studying Wuthering Heights from the aspect of a Female Gothic novel, no one can ignore the definition of this term Gothic. To do so, however, one is likely to fall into the trap of ambiguity, for there is no definite and comprehensive way to expound it. As time goes by, the connotation of this term gradually expands from its original meaning into broader sense.
“The word Gothic originally referred to the Goths, an early Germanic tribe, then came to signify ‘Germanic’, then ‘medieval’.” And the members of this tribe win fame because of their valiance and truculence during the battle with Romans. Although after around 7A.D.the Goths vanishes from history, they had indirectly added new meaning to the word Gothic that is then used to denote a style of architecture that originates in France and flourishes during the Medieval Period. The major characteristics of Gothic buildings are embodied by “the use of the high pointed arch and vault, flying buttresses and intricate recesses, which spread through Western Europe between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries”.  As a result, the Gothic architecture is usually deemed to be mysterious and frightening, representing the inhumane and the Dark Ages. Today Gothic is erroneously considered crude and barbaric.
With the passing of time, Gothic is endowed with a new connotation. Around the early eighteenth century, Gothic develops into a genre in literary realm. In particular, “the term Gothic has also been extended to a type of fiction which lacks the exotic setting of the earlier romances, but develops a brooding atmosphere of gloom and terror, represents events that are uncanny or macabre or melodramatically violent, and often deals with aberrant psychological states.” The attempt to define Gothic writings usually follows the method named by Eugenia DeLamotte in Monthly published in 1801. In such kind of works, “some writers set their stories in the medieval period; others set them in a Catholic country, especially Italy or Spain. The locale was often a gloomy castle furnished with dungeons, subterranean passages, and sliding panels; the typical story focused on the sufferings imposed on an innocent ghosts, mysterious disappearances, and other sensational and supernatural occurrences.” Though the plots and themes of Gothic writings are different specifically, they focus on the depiction of a series of weird and simulative events such as murder, revenge, violence, rape and incest, thus endowing the whole work with an atmosphere of suspense, mystery and sense of fear. With its artificial over-ornamentation, its unbridled imagination, its notorious fame of seducing degeneration and corruption, Gothic writings are severely criticized and rejected by mainstream literary genres. “In the history of western literature, there are seas of schools of fiction having made strong impacts. Flourished during the end of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, the English Gothic novel is one of the schools that exerts a tremendous influence and owns considerable uniqueness.”
The trend of begetting moral degeneration and emotional over-indulgence brings Gothic novels an alternative name “black novel” which has been keeping Gothic novels on the border zone of the development history of the world fiction. Receiving general disapproval, Gothic novels are treated with indifference and left out in the cold in both western and Chinese literary criticism circles. People have been inclined to pay attention to the negative facet of Gothic novels while fail to notice their moral instruction as the positive side. Although in Gothic novels the thick black atmosphere spread all over the place; and although “the principal aim of such novels was to evoke chilling terror by exploiting mystery and a variety of horrors”,  behind the seemingly deliberate black and irrational content there hides inside the substantial and profound rational content. Gothic novels never cease portraying combats between the bright and the black, the good and the beautiful. By advocating and seeking the essence of human natures, Gothic novels rightly shock and awaken people by its unique description of complicated and eccentric plots, the mysterious atmosphere and the bloody scenes.
In 1764,the English writer Horace Walpole inaugurates the Gothic novels with his The Castle of Otranto: A Gothic Story in his Gothic castle under the setting of Middle Ages. The novel is flooded with evil, violence, and murder in cold blood. And it becomes the forerunner of the English and western Gothic novels. Set in medieval Italy, The Castle of Otranto tells a story about usurpation, conspiracy and morality. The story ends with the good promoted while the evil punished. The novel paves the way for the developing of the Gothic novels: there are secret passages and mysterious abbey, the villainous usurper and the virginal heroine, the upright hero, the display of sadistic and masochistic emotions and the unbridled sexuality and sensuality. It exhibits its rebellious and excessive qualities. The portrayal of unanimated characters and brash plots, the eerie and horrible settings and scenery, the depiction of the institution of cavalier, however, brought it long-term criticism. With the publication of The Castle of Otranto the real history of the word Gothic begins from eighteenth century. And it mainly refers to the following three meanings: barbarous, medieval, and supernatural.
From then on, a large number of Gothic novels come out with the theme sticking to the exploration of human nature and passions in forms of indulgence and irrational excess around 1790s. Examples of Gothic novels are William Beckford’s Vathek (1786), Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), and Matthew Gregory Lewis’ The Monk (1796). The latter two works are considered to be the most outstanding and influential works among the large number of the Gothic novels during Gothic decade. Ann Radcliffe is one of the most famous female novelists whose works touch upon the typical Gothic traditions. By inheriting and developing major features of her predecessors, she attaches much importance to female figures in Gothic novels, endowing her works with new characteristics and preserving their distinct ingredients. Therefore, she is highly praised for the initiatory emphasis on women and their situations within Gothic context besides her great contribution to Gothic traditions. There are typical gothic features, such as ruined castles and abbeys, isolated passageways and dark forests in her novel, as well as some unique features, which cannot be found in male Gothic novels. To some extent, she starts the tradition of the so-called Female Gothic.
Female Gothic, the variant of modern Gothic, first comes out from Ellen Moers’ Literary Women. She defines Female Gothic as “the work that women writers have done in the literary mode”. Getting flourished in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, Female Gothic novels usually focus on a female protagonist who is chased and tormented by villainous gothic figures with unfamiliar settings and horrible landscape as the background. “No Gothic novel is without its suffering heroine, who is both ‘sexualized’ as an object of desire and ‘victimized’ by a powerful aggressor who is also a potential rapist. The first task of feminist criticism was to articulate the problem of the abuse of the female in Gothic fiction and to explore the ways in which female novelists subverted or reinscribed the cultural norms of female sexualization and victimization. ” The Female Gothic aims to socialize and educate its female readers by criticizing patriarchal dominion and serves as an expression of female independence. It “not only marks the introduction of gendered perspective into Gothic studies, but also opens up a new space for feminist literary studies.” In a word, Female Gothic is a form of literature, which expresses the inner secret resistance, fantasy, and terror of the female. Women are under the oppression of men for a long time, and it is high time that women writers should subvert male dominated literary discourse and establish their own writing tradition.
Applying Gothic genre as a platform, the Female Gothic writers are inclined to express their own understanding on women’s conditions and communicate with readers, especially the female. The prominent representatives of Female Gothic novels include Jane Austin’s Northanger Abbey (1818), Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1817), and Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. Emily Brontë’s employing of Female Gothic “should have an air of being infected by Hoffmann too is not surprising in a contemporary of Poe’s; Emily is likely to have read Hoffmann when studying German at the Brussels’s boarding school and certainly read the ghastly supernatural stories by James Hogg and others in the magazines at home.” Emily “grows up by reading Mary Shelley, Hoffmann, and James Hogg’s Gothic novels.” In Emily’s Wuthering Heights there can be found here and there the influence of the Gothic tradition. In the following, this thesis will analyze Wuthering Heights from Female Gothic perspectives, basically focusing on its devilish characters and terrifying nightmares.
3. Analysis on the embodiment of Female Gothic in Wuthering Heights
3.1 Devilish characters of Female Gothic
3.1.1 Heathcliff: a poor inhuman monster
126.96.36.199 Tenant Mr. Lockwood’s impression on Heathcliff
In Gothic novels, the shaping of the characters is a commonly used vehicle for giving expression to the gothic ingredient. This is particularly true of Emily’s Wuthering Heights. When we open this book, we can see various terrifying characters. The first character is the hero Heathcliff. He seems to be an inhuman monster. Being a son of the storm, his behavior is flooded with Gothic color: cruel, imperious, and he stoops to anything to get what he wants. What’s more, the love between Catherine and him goes beyond the common limit and is quite abnormal compared with love in other works of her age. The entire action of the story takes place within the two houses-Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange and on the moors lie between. The principal character, Heathcliff, around whom all the action revolves, emerges as starkly as Wuthering Heights. He may be thought of as the personification of the house. There is an analogy between his appearance and his character and that of the Heights itself.
When Mr. Lockwood, the tenant of Thrushcross Grange, pays his visit to Wuthering Heights, curious about the brooding quality and crumbing, menacing appearance of the Heights and the inscription over the door- the date ‘1500’and the name ‘Hareton Earnshaw’, Mr. Lockwood would like to ask his landlord about this, but Heathcliff proves to be unsociable, inhospitable, and brusque.
“The ‘walk in’ was uttered with closed teeth, and expressed the sentiment, ‘Go to the deuce’: even the gate over which he leant manifested no sympathizing movement to the words; and I think that circumstance determined me to accept the invitation: I felt interested in a man who seemed more exaggeratedly reserved than myself.”
This is the first appearance that Emily displayed to us. And the first impression of the hero Heathcliff adds the color of mystery and implies to the readers that the man is bound to have a long story. By the brief portrayal of the hero, she creates suspense for the whole story, which embodies the Gothic tradition.
During Mr. Lockwood’s staying at the Heights, he found a diary. The entry regarding the degrading life Heathcliff was forced to lead by Hindley throws some light on the character of Heathcliff as Mr. Lockwood now finds him. For the first time we sympathize with Heathcliff in his anguish, although we are still ignorant as to its cause. Heathcliff has been revealed as a man capable of great emotion, as well as cruelty. The scene still is in the Heights. Declaring that the room is haunted, Mr. Lockwood decides to spend the rest of the night elsewhere. As he is about to leave the room, the odd and horrible thing happens:
“I obeyed, so far as to quit the chamber; when ignorant where the narrow lobbies led, I stood still, and was witness, involuntarily, to a piece of superstition on the part of my landlord which belied, oddly, his apparent sense. He got on to the bed and wrenched open the lattice, bursting, as he pulled at it, into an uncontrollable passion of tears. ‘Come in! Come in!’ he sobbed. ‘Cathy, do come. Oh, do-once more! Oh! My heart’s darling! Hear me this time, Catherine, at last!’ The specter showed a specter’s ordinary caprice: it gave no sign of being; but the snow and wind whirled wilding through, even reaching my station, and blowing out the light.” Heathcliff is alarmed when he hears that Catherine has appeared to Mr. Lockwood; obviously, he believes that her spirit haunts Wuthering Heights and is trying to come to him from beyond the grave. This element arouses the interest and curiosity of the reader and embodies Gothic color a step forward.
188.8.131.52 Crazy revenge on his enemies
With the birth of his son Hareton and the death of his wife Frances Hindley’s final disintegration commerces. This is consistent with the moral weakness he has shown previously. He concentrates his venom on Heathcliff, whom he brutalizes and in whom he tries to stamp out the feeling of worthiness that old Mr. Earnshaw had engendered. Heathcliff, in turn, delights in seeing his enemy destroy himself. It is consistent with Heathcliff’s nature that he encourages his enemies to destroy themselves by their won inner flaws. And readers anticipate conflicts and trouble in the future. From this point of view, he behaves quite cruel and revengeful. To fulfill his revenge on Hindley, he turns little Hareton into a brute with no love or respect for his father, and he has ended his education – just as Hindley did to him. When Heathcliff reappears after Catherine’s marriage, thinking she might show him where his evil ways are leading him, Nelly pays a visit to the Heights. Seeing little Hareton outside the gates, she identifies herself and says she has called to see his father, Hindley. Hareton does not recognize her as his former nurse and greets her with a hail of stones and curses. Nelly asks him who taught him such things and he answers “Devil daddy.” He says his father cannot abide him because he swears at him. He says the curate no longer comes to teach him and it is Heathcliff, whom he loves, who has taught him to swear. Furthermore, he is determined to brutalize Hareton as himself was brutalized. This is evidented by the incident of Hareton’s hanging the puppies. So far, Heathcliff has succeeded in revenging Hindley’s insult on the next generation. His cruelty is easy to feel.
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