Romanticism and the Supernatural in Wuthering Heights and Sartor Resartus

The final chapters of Wuthering Heights reminded me of Thomas Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus because of the prominence of themes like romanticism and the supernatural in both texts. In Sartor Resartus, while Carlyle uses religious language, he is not having a religious conversation. Instead, Carlyle argues that we can find a source of hope and meaning in some new way that isn’t established religion. This conversation comes from romanticism which entails a scholarly embrace of optimism, the recognition of beauty in the natural world and a shift to turning to nature for spiritual meaning and some kind of alternative source of optimism and home in nature. In Natural Supernaturalism, Carlyle reflects this view when he asserts that nature itself is supernatural. He asks, ‘isn’t it a miracle that I can just reach my hand forward?’ He claims that we need not look further than ourselves to find the spiritual. In the research that was presented in class last week, we learned that Emily Bronte was raised evangelical, yet growing up, she was unaware of this. Throughout her youth, Bronte was surrounded by a lot of non-conformist communities which resulted in her own rejection of religion. Instead she thought of determination and hard work to be her guiding forces. Catherine and Cathy specifically seem to be characters that represent the Bronte’s views the religious and spiritual; both women seem to represent a rejection of traditional religious belief. At one point Catherine explains that in her dream she hated heaven and wished to go back down to earth. She instead finds her source of hope/spirituality/understanding in the moors. With regards to Cathy, the contrast between her and Linton’s ‘perfect days in heaven’ seems to clearly represent the conflicting ideas about traditional religion that occurred throughout the Victorian Era. Linton is a symbol of adherence to traditional religious practice and Cathy a symbol of some other alternative source of meaning/hope. Finally, Bronte’s inclusion of ghosts and spirits in the novel can be interpreted as rejection of traditional religion and a belief in heaven. Perhaps Bronte argues here that instead of heaven and hell there’s a spirit world that has a life of its own; perhaps nature is alive with spirits.

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