Author Archives: Ashley Contreras

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned about Victorian literature this semester?

When first entering this course, I had no clue what Victorian Literature was nor the history behind the Victorian era and its common theme romance. Little to my knowledge was I aware that I had read a couple of works of victorian literature before this course which I enjoyed reading on my free time. I have learned a lot from the research that my and other groups have done based on the context of the different texts read this semester. The most interesting one was about Oscar Wilde which gave us context about the poems he had written about his lover. As I have stated previously in one of my blog posts, I thought that the poems were metaphorically representing depression and its consequences and/or symptoms. However, after listening to one group explain their research on Wilde’s life, it was apparent that the speaker was himself, dealing with the consequence of loving another man who he denied having relations. The most interesting part of that information is that he took the accuser into court knowing this was true accusations and evidence may be apparent against him. This just leaves me to think, why did he do it?

Incestuous love: The case of the forbidden love

In Wuthering Heights, we are introduced to Heathcliff who is adopted into the Earnshaw family. Although Catherine Earnshaw was not fond of his presence in the beginning, she did begin to have a hold on Heathcliff and their love for each other became more than sisterly love. Heathcliff is tormented of the life he could have had with Catherine and he destroys anything good or might seem happy in his path in retaliation to how his life turned out after being taken in by a wealthy caucasian family. In Reuben Sachs, we are introduced to Reuben’s familial line. Reuben is a part of a prominent Jewish family in a mainly Jewish community. His uncle by marriage, Israel Leuniger, adopted a girl by the name of Judith Quixano who is Israel’s sister’s daughter. Reuben returns from a six-month journey and visits the Leuniger household and can not keep his eyes off of Judith. This relates back to Wuthering Heights as it displays a courtship between two young lovers and their love for one another despite their familial ties.

Jailbird Blues

From what I’ve gathered in both the texts, The Ballad of Reading Gaol and De Profundis by Oscar Wilde, is that the speaker is being kept inside of jail cell. However, I believe that this ‘jail cell’ is a metaphor for the entrapment of depression. When one is in this state, they detach themselves, becoming someone they aren’t. In the poem, when it repeats that ‘the man killed his love’, I believe that this is a representation of who ‘he’ is and all ‘he’ has lost; his desires, his dreams, his fortune. Although this can be read literal, I choose to see my interpretation as the correct path as it relates to any reader who reads these texts. When looking back at our semester’s catalog of texts, I think back to every text we have read, as it gives off this dark ominous theme that leaves characters and the audience feeling sorrow and gloom.

Love is an orphan

We gain insight from orphans throughout a series of texts such as; “Great Expectations”, “Wuthering Heights”, and “The Chimney Sweeper”. What each orphan has in common is the lack of love they receive from their love interests and/or even their adopted families. I choose to include “The Chimney Sweeper” because I remember in class, one of my peers mentioned that because the child was dying slowly from the harsh labor and pains they were going through, and calling out for their parent’s whose whereabouts were unknown, that the speaker’s parent might be in heaven as the poem does include a lot of religion remarks. It also makes the readers think about how a parent could ever let their child do something dangerous while they are off doing who knows what. In “Wuthering Heights”, Heathcliff is tortured by not only his adopted family but by his first and only love, Catherine. Catherine at first did not like him when he first came to live with her and her family, however, she had grown to love him up until she had stayed with the Linton’s, to where her personality changed and so did her feelings for Heathcliff. In “Great Expectations”, we see how Pip was raised by his sister Mrs. Joe and her husband, the blacksmith, Joe. Mrs. Joe was callous towards Pip and was abusive.

A series of unfortunate events

In “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens, as Pip grows up, we start to see a change in his personality. We also start to see how social class is significant during this era and a popular topic in Victorian literature. In “Great Expectations”, Pip comes from a lower-class family and Miss Havisham and Estella seem to be from a higher class order. Pip and his guardians, Joe and Mrs. Joe, are excited to be taken under Miss Havinshaw’s wings, however, it all seems to be a ruse. It seems like Miss Havinshaw is training Estella to be a heartbreaker as she was heartbroken by her ex-fiance of lower-class status when he was in alliance with her brother and left her at the alter and took her share. Since she had fallen in love with this man and was used for her money, Miss Havinshaw’s revenge is taken up through another vessel, Estella, whom she adopted, and chose the target for her; Pip, a young man from a lower-class family; a family that would be ecstatic to have been given such good fortune after series of unfortunate events. We can connect this to “Wuthering Heights” because Heathcliff had been a victim of pure hatred and he became the benefactor of revenge through these occurrences and experiences Just as Pip’s personality is shaping into something that he has only seemed to experience.

An Orphanage of compassion

Looking at Chapters 1-3 of Great Expectations, we can see some similar alignments with Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights and P[hil]ip, the main character in Great Expectations, Pip, as he calls himself due to not being able to pronounce neither his first nad last name, is recounting a tale of his childhood during Christmas time when he encounters a convict. In my perspective, I can see how these two characters, both Pip and Heathcliff, have a similar childhood background. We find out that Pip is an orphan who lives with his sister and her husband, a blacksmith, and Heathcliff was a homeless Gypsy living on the streets, adopted by a wealthy family on Mr. Earnshaw’s behalf. Pip had been threatened to help a convict and with compassion, he helped the man recover a bit when he returned. Heathcliff, although adopted by Mr.Earnshaw, was not treated fairly and kind by all members of his family. In fact, he was abused in more ways than one. He did not lash out until his adulthood, meaning he was a pushover, just as Pip was when this convict bullied and threatened him into doing something for his own benefit. Something I thought about by analyzing these two characters is, does living with strangers or guardians who aren’t your biological parents affect the way you are brought up or does that align with the experiences created from your childhood?

The World is Our Kingdom, but Do We Know the Players?

In Darwin’s, “On the Origin of Species”, it says, “all organisms start from a common origin. If we look even to the two main divisions—namely, to the animal and vegetable kingdoms—certain low forms are so far intermediate in character that naturalists have disputed to which kingdom they should be referred” (Paragraph 9). This can connect to Wuthering Heights in a way. IF we think about the issues within the Victorian era throughout this novel, we can deeply analyze the interactions between Heathcliff and Hindley. Race is a big part of this novel (in my opinion) and it’s influenced Heathcliff greatly. As the quote says, “all organisms start from a common origin”, how come racism appears to diminish this concept in the minds of the racist Caucasians within not only this novel but also in our society as it still does exist and spreads all throughout the world? We see how class and race create a divide in these two worlds as one seems to think they are superior than the other creating their fortune and higher status in the world; their kingdom.

The Inheritance of Love and Revenge

We see how these star-crossed lovers (Heathcliff and late Catherine)have marked their love history and how it seems to repeat now with the Young Catherine (heir to the late Catherine) and Linton (heir to Heathcliff). We can connect this back to how I started to notice the affection Hareton and Cathy had at first but then, after all, the negative and unjust behavior Cathy receives from Linton, she apparently is “in love” with Linton within Chapter 29. This reminds me of the love triangle that Heathcliff, Catherine, and Edgar had going on. IF you think about it, although they all weren’t blood-related, they were all brothers and sisters. Edgar being Catherine’s brother because Cathy was raised for a time by the LIntons and Catherine being Heathcliff’s sister because Heathcliff was adopted into the family when he was a young boy. Then we have the new love triangle that consists of actual cousins, Cathy, Hareton, and Linton. Not only do we see the inheritance of love here but we also seem to see the inheritance of revenge as young Catherine spites Heathcliff by playing him at his own game. That and Linton who has been raised by Heathcliff now is conforming his personality to be that of his father’s.

Confinement within their oppression

In Wuthering Heights, we can see the abuse that Heathcliff projects onto Hareton and Linton when he uses his revenge from all the other people around him treated him poorly. For example, Hareton, Hindley’s son, was raised by Heathcliff after Hindley had died. Hindley was abusive, callous, and cruel towards Heathcliff as soon as he came home with his father. It could have been jealousy and purely racism because Heathcliff is described to be a ‘dark-skinned gypsy’. Hindley used his power against Heathcliff at a young age and because of this, Heathcliff used all his anger and held in tension to make Hareton’s life miserable. This reminds me of the poem, The Chimney Sweeper; not because the speaker was forced to do things they didn’t want to or was treated aggressively due to a result of revenge but because of the tone of the poem. The speaker whom I am assuming is a child, has to do a dangerous job to help their family, however, the speaker is describing death and how it’s hanging over them because of the dangers of this unwanted job. The speaker proceeds to call out for their parent and talks about heaven and in Wuthering Heights, Hareton and Linton have to suffer the wrath of Heathcliff and this is all because their parents have died.

Wuthering Heights (Chap. 1-9) — Make A Connection

To begin, enter Mr. Lockwood, a new tenant of Mr. Heathcliff. Their relationship is not at all the best and you can feel the tension between the two. Mr. Lockwood, upon his arrival, meets Nelly, one of the servants at the Wuthering Heights manor. After his supernatural encounter with that of a ghost named Catherine, he becomes frightened and asks Nelly to explain what happened in this house. Nelly goes on to tell him the story of Heathcliff and his family. Heathcliff, a dark-skinned gypsy, who was picked up by Mr. Earnshaw and was resented by Catherine, Hindley, and Mrs. Earnshaw. Although, after a time, Catherine grew to the likings of Heathcliff, Hindley and Mrs. Earnshaw remained to be cruel and upset towards Heathcliff being a part of the family.

Reading this reminded me of two different things we discussed in class. One being Thomas Carlyle’s Sartor Resaurtus when he talks about social class and how even just the clothes you wear determine what position or role you take up in this society. Being a dark-skinned gypsy in this era happened to be the worst possible class you can think of. Later on, in his years, Hindley returns with his new wife, after his father’s death, only to inherit their home. He seeks his revenge on Heathcliff by denying him his education and making him a servant. In other words, he made him his slave. We come across more racism within other characters and even Catherine herself who was his only companion, after spending some time with the Linton’s. The second connection I made towards this was the article that one of the groups had discovered where a Queen (Higher class/ Royal class) had taken in a young black girl by the name of Sarah and she paid for her education and made her, her goddaughter. This is similar to Wuthering Heights because Mr. Earnshaw, despite the racial differences within this era, brought in Heathcliff to his manor and gave him shelter, food, and love.