'Wuthering Heights' and Victorian values

Ole Wagner

Englische Sprachwissenschaft / Literaturwissenschaft

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Seminar paper from the year 2005 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: 2,0, University of Heidelberg, 11 Literaturquellen entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: Emily Brontë died almost exactly one year after the publication of her novel, so she was not able to follow the course it was taking in criticism very long. Since reviewers attacked Wuthering Heights and its author, Emily’s older sister Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855) felt urged to defend the value of the novel. She did that in her famous Editor’s Preface to the New Edition of Wuthering Heights of 1850, but not without complaining about several aspects of the novel herself. Also, the preface could not “provoke any reviews which showed more complete understanding” .
It is not easy for a modern reader to imagine what exactly in Wuthering Heights made the feelings of the reviewers run so high at the time of the first publication of the novel. Moral standards and expectations towards a work of art were quite different then from how they are today. This essay, therefore, will discuss how the novel violated the moral values of the Victorian time and aroused disgust in contemporary readers by taking a closer look at the two main characters. But first it will look at the artistic complaints of the reviewers and the expectations of the Victorian readership in order to give an impression of the ideas of the time.


GRIN Verlag




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