The Purpose of this Blog

Your task on this blog is to write a brief summary of what we learned in class today. Include enough detail so that someone who was ill or missed the lesson can catch up with what they missed. Over the course of the term, these 'class scribe' posts will grow to be a guide book for the course, written by students for students.

With each post ask yourself the following questions:
1) Is this good enough for our guide book?
2) Will your post enable someone who wasn't here to catch up?
3) Would a graphic/video/link help to illustrate what we have learned?

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


Liminality: Symbols, Motifs and Themes
Liminal: of pertaining to, or situated at the limen (threshold); the unfixed position between any two oppositional terms; the experience of being on a threshold or a boundary; marginal
Heathcliff is liminal in the following ways:
-          He is an outsider, there is a barrier between the classes
-          His name, named after the dead- marginal position between the living and the dead
-          Borderline between a supernatural creature and a man “imp of Satan”, “dark almost as if it came from the devil”
There is Liminality between Life and Death:
-          Cathy is haunted by her own face in the mirror when she is about to die, she is already able to see her own ghost even though she is not yet dead
-          When Lockwood struggles with the ghost, the windowpane acts as a barrier between the real world and the supernatural
-          Eyes are also used within the novel as a portal into the other world. Heathcliff’s eyes always seem supernatural and connected with the underworld
Ghosts- a liminal state:
-          The borders between life and death are broken down
-          The ghosts of Heathcliff and Cathy hover together  in a liminal state
-          Strength and passion can transcend this world into a spiritual world beyond
-          Brontë uses the gothic idea of the supernatural and the transgressed ‘limen’ to demonstrate the importance of passion to her and that it is able to last beyond death
Liminality between Nature and Culture:
-          When Cathy and Heathcliff visit Thrushcross Grange, the look into the Grange through the barrier of a window. The window can be seen to symbolise the border between the nature outside and the culture within
-          Brontë uses liminality to show that society’s borders and barriers are too confining. There had to be room in life for nature and strong feelings to break through

The Uncanny

Uncanny: 'Mysterious, weird, uncomfortably strange or familiar' - OED

We looked at different explanations of the word uncanny and from these we tried to understand the word in our own way. These included:

*The barrier between the known and the unknown
*Familiar and foreign (teetering on the brink)
*A feeling of unfamiliarity and uncertainty
*The uncanny of the monumental
*The heimlich: homely and the unheimlich: unhomely

We also had to comment on the view that Wuthering Heights is filled with uncanny and disturbing occurences.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Fragmented Narrative

Lesson Objectives:

- deepen my understanding of Bronte's narrative structure
- enagage with the requirements of the Gothic exam

I found that I already knew that the narrative structure is not a simple one and is in fact very disjointed, leading the audience to question the narrators.

I would need to know if the structure stays at one certain level of complexity, or whether one narrative voice is more responsible for causing the fragmented structure than the other.

One question I have is, how would the Victorian audience have received this novel when it was first published?

complete the essay we started in class, with the question:
"How does the narrative structure of the opening of Wuthering Heights enhance the novel's Gothic qualities?"

Tuesday, 25 September 2012


We began by thinking about how the characters and readers see Lockwood, as well as how he sees himself.

- poor judgement
- odd/strange
- self centred

- unreliable
- judgemental
- self centred

- misanthropic
- romantic hero
- good at making judgements

We then focused on an article titled 'Asking questions and telling tales.' This consisted of similarities between both Lockwood and and Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby. From this article we established that both Wuthering Heights and The Great Gatsby start with narrators who enter the story in medias res (in the middle of things) and both have to learnt to see the present in terms of the past.We made notes for each of the different sections within the article.

Limited Narrators:
- Limited vision and romantic experience, lack of knowledge.
- 'The stirring atmosphere of the town.'
- 'Im of the busy world and to its arms I must return.'

Observing the Hero:
- Narrator stumbles upon a fiercely passionate and committed man who stands in complete contrast to him
- Narrators drawn into the affairs of main characters, becoming go-betweens and an audience
- Heathcliff's behaviour switches between being moody and being friendly
- Lockwood is condescending and judgemental, yet touched

Rumour and Lies:
- Lockwood is dependent on other people's narratives to understand Heathcliff
- Heathcliff is 'rough as a saw-edge, and hard as whinstone'
- Despite regarding herself as 'one sensible soul' Nelly does behave both deviously and unsympathetically
- The version Lockwood hears of Heathcliff's life is coloured by the prejudice of Nelly
- Mystified rather than clarified, readers question the evidence given

Poor Men, Rich Women:
- Subjects of these speculations have poor and obscure origins
- Main character falls in love with woman socially out of his reach
- Narrators do not use their secure situations to commit themselves to loving a woman

The Morality of Narration:
- Moral certainty is shaken
- We are fascinated by those who take risks and stake everything to get what they want
- Heathcliff is in love with a dream that is unattainable
- If narrator is taken away the story tends to degenerate into melodrama

We then looked at four different extracts, two from Nelly and two from Lockwood. We annotated them to find what vocabulary, sentence structures, punctuation and tones the two narrators use, and what effect their linguistic choices have on the narrative voice.

- Standard English
- Complex and Compound sentences
- A wide variety of punctuation
- Staccato
- Polite, certain, concerned
- She sounds clued up and in some cases, rather wise

- High frequency vocab
- Long sentences
- A lack of punctuation
- Self-centred
- Much of his narration consists of his feelings and thoughts

Homework: Produce two paragraphs commenting on Nelly Vs. Lockwood's narrative style. Focus on the following; vocab, syntax, punctuation, tone and effect of language on narrative.

Shazia :)


Saturday, 22 September 2012

W.H- fragmentation

Multiple narrators:
The construction of multiple narrators causing framing in Wuthering Heights fragments the text, making it complex and prolix, therefore makes it hard for readers to follow and understand the story. There are various implications for which Bronté uses this. The complexity of a polyphonic text forces the reader to piece together fragments of information and make judgements about the characters for themselves. The use of framing provides subjective narrations and obfuscates the real 'truth' from the readers which may create a sense of uncertainty about the narration. However, it gives the reader multiple view points making it more interesting and allowing them unto the diegesis of the story. Also, the fact that the 'truth' gets distorted through all the sources of Nelly and recorded by Lockwood adds a sense of realism as the lack of impartiality and complexity is totally believable. 

Lockwood as a narrator:
 Lockwood is a self-indulgent, unreliable and subjective narrator as he focuses too much on himself, misinterprets relationships and characters and allows his views on others affect the way characters come across to the reader. We can see this from the very first paragraph of the story. Although, it is the first time he meets Heathcliff, he judges him immediately as describes him to ''beheld his black eyes...with a jealous resolution''. The purpose of Bronté representing Lockwood as a narrator who allows his feelings towards characters affect his writing too much, is to warn the reader that he is in fact an unreliable narrator; therefore should not believe everything that is said.

-do the questions on the sheet
-read, highlight and summarise under each heading (Lockwood's part in the summer holiday revision pack)
-read chapter two

What I found out about Nelly's narration in Chapter four: 
Nelly repeatedly specifies Heathcliff using an impersonal pronoun of "it" which suggests that she could also be an unreliable narrator. Her lack of sympathy and possible dislike towards Heathcliff to be a "dirty ragged black- hair child". This implies that she might let her bias views alter the 'truth' fail to be our source of Heathcliff's history. 


Sunday, 16 September 2012

Gothic elements in Wuthering Heights

Wutherring heights contains so many Gothic tropes that its a wonder Heathcliff is not likened to infamous figures such as Dracula and Frankenstein. It is often seen as a love story due to the blossoming romance of Hareton and Catherine, especially after the hardships dealt upon them by Heathcliff and the deaths of their parents and siblings.

we spoke at great length of the many features of a Gothic and the rank at which we thought them present in Wuthering Heights out of ten (these are my scores not the result of the entire classes):
Liminality 8/10
Medieval architecture - isolated land 7/10
Metamorphosis 3/10
complex narrative - prolix 10/10
Death or bloody imagery 10/10
binary opposition 8/10
patriarchy 8/10
horror 6/10
terror 2/10
symbols 8/10
byronic hero 9/10

we spoke briefly on the idea of Heathcliff being the byronic hero, which is the idea of a "bad boy" (as Mr Sadgrove put it) being the ultimate hero, showing how wrong can ultimately be enticing to the reader and to other characters in the story.

our next task, writing a blurb in which Wuthering heights is portrayed as a Gothic book or a love story, highlighted how even our description was littered with certain Gothic tropes. "The moors" were often described as dark, lonely or isolated when in the Gothic genre, whereas in the love story genre, i found that i did not mention the moors, but i focused more on character relationships and actions.

homework was to:
1. re-read chapter 1
2.What impression do we get of our narrator
3. What Gothic elements can we identify in this chapter.
4. Draw Wuthering heights and label with evidence from the text.