Ideology, Intertexts, Tradition
Recent criticism on Emily Brontë and her novel has tried to correct the deep-rooted belief that Emily Brontë was a literary "genius" isolated in the moors of Haworth. Indeed, an overview of recent Brontë scholarship indicates that two important critical shifts have lately cropped up: an increasing sociological attention to cultural studies on the one hand and an emphasis on interdisciplinarity. The present book is an unprecedented and groundbreaking study on Wuthering Heights. It detaches itself from the current productive vogue for sociological approaches to narrative texts which has contributed to obscure the focus on anomalous intertextual relations, and prioritizes the literary context over any other biographical, historical, or cultural context. Determining Wuthering Heights postulates a determinate intertextual meaning of Emily Brontë’s novel, enriching its heterogeneity by examining its dialogic relation with previous, contemporary and subsequent texts in order to confirm that Emily Brontë’s novel is not sui generis.
The target audience of the book would be members of the academic community interested in Victorian literature in general (researchers, scholars…) and in Wuthering Heights in particular. However, since Wuthering Heights has become a classic novel which is today read and discussed in universities around the world, the subject may also appeal to students who have to take a course on Victorian Literature and/or on the Brontës.
5 Wuthering Heights: An Epic Poem
Delimitation of the Context
“So farewell hope, and with hope farewell fear,Farewell remorse; all good to me is lost.Evil, be thou my good.”
John Milton, Paradise Lost IV. 108–110)
The purpose of this chapter is to employ Lord Byron’s poem, Manfred, as a literary intertext which can, both formally and thematically, illuminate Wuthering Heights. This chapter is strategically placed here since I think it is important to see the evolution from Lewis’ Ambrosio to Byron’s Manfred and, finally, to Brontë’s Heathcliff. In fact, critics have seen Ambrosio “as an early type of the appalling genius later developed by Byron in Manfred” (Groom, xxv). Byron was indeed an insatiable reader of Gothic novels. He expressed admiration for The Monk, Schiller’s Ghost-Seer, Frankenstein, and Vathek; Gothic novels that include complex narrative structures, supernatural events, and sharp scenes. It is no secret that the Brontës were strong admirers of Byron. As Sara J. Lodge puts it, “[o]f the Romantic poets, Byron’s figure looms largest in the Brontës’ literary pantheon” (146). However, I justify my choice of Manfred as a literary intertext for Wuthering Heights not only on the basis that the Brontës were deeply acquainted with Byron’s poems, but also because both Byron and Emily Brontë experienced ←165 | 166→a literary fascination with Milton’s Paradise Lost, a great influence for both. My contention is that both Manfred and Wuthering Heights possess an epic-dramatic component that goes back to Milton’s masterpiece. Indeed, I think that one of...
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