The Setting in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights

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The Importance of the Setting in Wuthering Heights    

 

The setting of a gothic novel has been described as, "usually a large mansion or remote castle which is dark and foreboding: usually isolated from neighbors" In Wuthering Heights, Bronte has used Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights to depict isolation and separation. The dark and foreboding environment described at the beginning of the novel foreshadows the gloomy atmosphere found in the remainder of the book. Wuthering Heights is an ancient mansion perched on a high ridge, overlooking a bled, windy. sparsely inhabited wasteland. The harsh, gloomy characteristics of the land are reflected in the human characters. In Frankenstein, Victor’s country house near Geneva is described as isolated, dwarfed by massive, snow capped mountain ranged and hunted by the emptiness of a calm lake. Victor also describes it as "an unusual tranquillity"(page 27) This effect of isolation and tranquillity leads directly into the dreary element of mood. Victors apartment at the university also conveys a feeling of dread with its piles of books, scattered equipment, dust and unkemptness. Shelley’s novel takes us on a tour of the wildest, most isolated geography in Europe: the Swiss and French Alps, the Rhine valley, the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Russia and the Arctic. In these places, where humans are dwarfed by uncontrollable nature, the protagonist is helpless and alone. The element of mood in a gothic novel has been described as, "gloomy, dark, terror, death, revenge, hate, mystery, horror." In Wuthering Heights, the two most convincing elements of mood are death and revenge. Every character in the Linton and Earnshaw family tree dies at a young age, with the exception of Harton Earnshaw and Catherine Linton. With his driving hate for the Lintons and Earnshaws, Heathcliff executes his revenge on both families from the first to second generation. In Frankenstein, there is a direct relationship between death and revenge. Since the creature Victor had created had been denied love by Victor and society it set out to destroy those whom Victor loves. As the monster avenges itself on its creator it destroys Victor’s closes companions and relations. In both novels, the isolated setting play a major sole in creating mood. The raw, uncontrolled geography dominated the human characters, whose emotion are almost directed by their surroundings. Setting and mood are closely intertwined, and throughout the novels on senses that the humans are helpless in the face of nature and their own uncontrolled emotions and are impelled toward downfall determined by something other that themselves.

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The protagonists struggle against their fate with sheer power of will, but they must almost consciously sound their own destruction. The passionate and calculated revenge of Heathcliff and Frankenstein’s creature wreak havoc on those around them, but does nothing to help these two characters enhance their own existence. Few novels provide a better example of the close relationship between setting, mood, and characters than Wuthering Heights and Frankenstein.

 


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