Friday, May 22, 2020

Friday, May 22, 2020 12:30 am by M. in , , ,    No comments
A new paper just published in the Oxford Research in English journal:
Transgressing the Boundaries of the Outsider in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847) and Michael Stewart’s Ill Will: The Untold Story of Heathcliff (2018)
by  Marta Bernabeu

Oxford Research in English
Issue 10 Boundaries and Transgressions, May 2020

Emily Brontë’s Heathcliff, from Wuthering Heights (1847), is considered a Byronic character by most scholars, a devilish force by Brontë’s fellow Victorians, and even the victim of the story. Be that as it may, Heathcliff’s status as outsider is at the centre of any interpretation. The extremes to which he is subjected, both in the novel and critical reception, contribute to his controversial image and detachment from other characters in nineteenth-century fiction. It is worthwhile to remember that Charlotte Brontë, Emily’s older sister and author of Jane Eyre (1847), claimed in a letter to her publisher that Heathcliff ‘exemplified the effects which a life of continued injustice and hard usage may produce on a naturally perverse, vindictive, and inexorable disposition’. Contemporary debates around the figure of Heathcliff still echo Charlotte’s in a way, as they fail to reach a more thorough understanding of his persona. Two hundred years of criticism, in which Emily Brontë’s character has been discussed from a wide array of approaches, are not seemingly enough to at least make an attempt to delve deeper into the richness of Heathcliff ’s affective spectrum and explore its many layers. For instance, Kathryn Hughes dismisses Wuthering Heights as a ‘hot mess’, arguing that ‘part of the problem, of course, is that [the characters] all sound the same, speaking at a hysterical pitch, as if straining to make themselves heard over a permanent gale’. In a similar way, Hephzibah Anderson reduces the figure of Heathcliff almost exclusively to his ‘toxic love’, thus snubbing his circumstances, and the fact that Catherine Earnshaw is as problematic and psychologically complex as he is, as Susan Gilbert and Sandra Gubar maintain.
Regrettably, the link in the ORE magazine to the article seems to be broken, but you can read it on ResearchGate.

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