Response to Wuthering Heights in Wake of Scientific Discoveries

Edmunde Gosse’s Father and Son shows readers how intellectuals, scientists and the general public felt about these new scientific discoveries in the Victorian Era. This passage reveals the extreme faith and dependency on traditional religion that people experienced were before these revolutionary scientific discoveries. Readers get a strong sense of two very defined and unmoving perspectives developed as a result of these discoveries: one being the secular theory of evolution vs. religious belief in Genesis.

Based on what we’ve learned about Brontë’s life, it is clear that Brontë is writing from a perspective that is not based in the same kind of religious faith that so many Victorian people had. One could argue that Emily Bronte’s experience growing up with no real connection to religion is expressed in her writing through the Earnshaw family; the Earnshaw’s represent Bronte’s rejection of traditional religious practices. One reading of Wuthering Heights could be that the Lintons represent traditional religious practices while the Earnshaws represent passion, connection to nature, and an alternative approach to faith/spirituality. Additionally, Brontë often portrays the Lintons as weak, vain, and sickly.Thus, the novel can be interpreted as a claim by Bronte that the proper way to live is to reject religion and the traditional. 

As you see in Father and Son, people felt very strongly about their religious views. This is why I find it intriguing that Wuthering Heights was accepted by many during the time. Based on people’s extreme reactions to scientific discoveries as shown in Father and Son, I would expect the religious majority of Victorian England to disprove of the sacreligious elements of Wuthering Heights. One possible explanation for the novel’s popularity/acceptance is that people might have accepted the book because while the Earnshaws/Bronte represents a different type of life–a more elemental life. Iit’s tolerable because it is ‘other.’ Bronte and her writing are ‘safe’ because it comes from this ‘other’ place up north

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