What a question! So much.
I feel like I have learned so many interesting things. I think Prof Schacht did a great job in selecting the texts for this semester. It made for interesting reads as we could tie connections and themes across different readings which is what English is all about, making a connection to something, developing that thought, and raising questions as well as sharing insight on that thought. Through the research every group was required to do every once in a while, I learned much about things in history during the Victorian Era which was probably the most interesting part to me. Being able to connect authors works with the history of the time period and aspects their personal lives was super cool. The most interesting one that stuck out to me would probably be knowledge about Oscar Wildes trials. Ironically, that was my groups topic which I think adds to why it was so interesting to me, particularly because of all the research and articles we looked through to gain insight on these trials. As it seems he shocked Victorian England with his behaviors throughout the trial, it was interesting to see this unfold in other aspects of readings we’ve done. How conventional attitudes are viewed, challenge, disparaged, yet on the other hand how they are followed and various reactions to these happenings.
One thing, that I didn’t connect to anything lol, in particular that stuck out to me in reading Reuben Sach is the tremendous detail in this novel. The details make the novel so interesting and conveys a sense of realism in the piece to the reader.
On to my connection, throughout Victorian literature, we see how different societal constructs are present. We see themes of race, gender, and romance very frequently. Reuben Sachs portrays race and romance difficulties coupled with societal standards. For instance, the portrayal of class is seen by, “By his side stood a small, dark, gnomelike creature, apparently entirely overpowered by the rich, untidy garments she was wearing” (Levy 19). In comparison to class in other books we’ve read, we see in Wuthering Heights Heathcliff’s portrayal, “He is a dark-skinned gypsy in aspect, in dress and manners a gentleman, that is, as much a gentleman as many a country squire.” Societal divide is not only seen at the surface level, but at all levels in this time.
In addition, romance is an overarching theme, and coming to rise here. In Ruben Sachs, “He heard and saw nothing but the sound of Leo’s violin, and the face of Judith” (Levy 31). The mere focus on Judiths face, indicates his fascination (romance). This reminds me of particularly the focus on the face in other pieces. I remember a few instances in Wuthering Heights where there was a particular focus on faces. For instance, “a dim reflection from her own enchanting face,” and Heathcliff says, “I meditated this plan—just to have one glimpse of your face, a stare of surprise, perhaps, and pretended pleasure; afterwards settle my score with Hindley; and then prevent the law by doing execution on myself.” Further the attention to detail on the face, “Her pretty face was wan and listless; her hair uncurled: some locks hanging lankly down, and some carelessly twisted round her head” (Bronte 98). The overall fascination and detail of the face is very interesting.
I’m not sure if this is a stretch, but the idea of the focus on faces kind of struck out to me. It will definitely be something I will continue to look out for now that I have made this connection.
While reading Oscar Wilde, De Profundis. One quote really stuck out to me. “Morality does not help me. I am a born antinomian. I am one of those who are made for exceptions, not for laws. But while I see that there is nothing wrong in what one does, I see that there is something wrong in what one becomes. It is well to have learned that.” I made a connection to Great Expectations. I think the theme of morality is one that we can draw connections on through many pieces of this course. Specifically here, Pips struggle with morality, with who he becomes, how he treats other people is one reflective in the quote pulled from the reading for today. Pips development as a character is one where he loses certain aspects of his morality along the way. This is seen as his focus is narrowed in one what he wants even if that meant disregard for others. Overall, morality is a theme we can track throughout this course with many readings. We see how certain aspects of morality are either followed, or disparaged, and it is interesting to see the different values, expectations and further the effects of them.
The parallels between Wuthering Heights and Great Expectations continuously jump out at me as we continue to read this novel. Relationships in the Victorian Era have a weird dynamic, especially when we see a contrast in certain ideologies of class, gender and social structure within the novels we have read. In chapter 44 we see a change in Pip and Estellas relationship, Pip confesses his love to Estella, but it is shared that Estella does not reciprocate those same feelings. We then learn that she is going to marry Drummle. This reminds me a lot of Catherine and Heathcliffs relationship. Although it is not exactly identical in accounts of feelings of both parties, it is very similar in situational aspects. Estella marrying another man, just like Catherine marrying another man. But here, it is interesting to see why Estella is marrying Drummle, as he is not a character who is portrayed as a very nice one. Pips innocence and recognition of his social class to Estella is one that reminds me of Heathcliffs early characterization in Wuthering Heights. One quote from Heathcliff that I thought of when reading Great Expectations (as Pip was speaking) was “‘But, Nelly, if I knocked him down twenty times, that wouldn’t make him less handsome or me more so. I wish I had light hair and a fair skin, and was dressed and behaved as well, and had a chance of being as rich as he will be!” (Bronte 37) In both novels we see the recognition of social status from Heathcliff and from Pip in Great Expectations, yet they still pursue something outside of their social status or their “realm” and predetermined expectations of the time period. It is interesting to compare these two novels and their characters with many themes, one here being the rise of social status through romanticism and love, through relationships.
One thing that struck my interest with the chapters for this weeks reading was the idea of honesty. The theme of honesty overall is very prevalent throughout Great Expectations. It is evident that Joes goodness and honesty is what makes him a special character, one that is a good reference point back to reality for other characters. Through Joe’s character and Pip’s character development, I thought of the honesty in Wuthering Heights as well. However, if we look at both texts, it is in fact the dishonesty of characters that is most prevalent, whether it be dishonesty to themselves or to others. Specifically, Pip is dishonest with himself in all that he pushes aside in order to advance himself socially, which includes pushing aside Joe, quite possibly the most honest character in this Dickens novel. Whereas, in comparison to Wuthering Heights, Catherine is dishonest with herself in advancing/keeping her societal standing when she chooses to marry Edgar over the man she truly loves, Heathcliff. I also think through these narratives and characterizations of dishonesty, self-realization aspects unfold. In Great Expectations this is seen in chapter 28 where Pip goes home intending to apologize to Joe, one aspect of him considering Joes feelings rather than only caring about advancing himself socially. In Wuthering Heights this is seen when Heathcliff sporadically returns, specifically through Catherines response to his return and her actions in keeping him in her life despite her choice to marry Edgar. So through certain characters honest and dishonesty in Victorian Literature, I think many thematic notions unfold. I’m curious to see how Pips character further develops and if he ever becomes truly honest.
The first thing I noticed about Great Expectations was how Dickens portrays the social structure and romance of the victorian era. I saw a lot of parallels to characters from Wuthering Heights with the characters from Great Expectations. In Wuthering Heights you have the contrast between the Earnshaw and the Linton family, and in Great expectations you have the contrast between Pip and Estella. In each comparison, their lives are contingent upon one another, indicative of the romance aspect. Yet, both sets of characters romance and love is influenced by the social status they hold. At first it was Catherine finding a power and social status struggle between marrying the love of her life, Heathcliff, and marrying someone of higher class, Edgar. Now, in Great Expectations, it is Pip and Estellas relationship, how Estella is so critical of Pip. Estella is more critical of Pip in a verbal way, whereas Catherine was not as critical of Heathcliff, at least to his face. I mean, Estella quite literally compares Pip to a dog in her interaction with him. I am curious to see the development of these characters in the next reading. Additionally, social structure is seen through Pip and his interactions with other people in the novel, as he is ashamed of anything that reminds him of his low status. I am interested to see these relationships develop in Great Expectations and further see how much more we can parallel with the novel Wuthering Heights. The last connection I will make is how climbing the social status or striving to is evident in both novels, in Wuthering Heights it is Heathcliff marrying Isabella in order to acquire higher status and priveldge, also land. In Great Expectations we see, two characters (Pips older sister and Pumblechook) thinking their interactions with Miss Havisham will further their status.
In “On The Origin of Species by Natural Selection,” one part stuck out to me particularly : “THE TERM, STRUGGLE FOR EXISTENCE, USED IN A LARGE SENSE.I should premise that I use this term in a large and metaphorical sense, including dependence of one being on another, and including (which is more important) not only the life of the individual, but success in leaving progeny.” I immediately thought of Wuthering Heights and how we see this dependency as of one being dependent on another in many different ways. For example, I see this as an emotional way of dependence in Catherines sense. As we see various relationships form in the novel, I couldn’t help but relate this to how they are in a way in general dependent, or co-dependent on one another. With Heathcliff and Catherine’s relationship, Catherine has this dependence on Heathcliff in an emotional way as she loves him, and Heathcliff controls many aspects of Catherines life throughout the novel, which also relates to emotional dependency with a controlling aspect. Overall, Catherine and Heathcliff’s dependency on one another leads to harm both of their emotional aspects of sanity in a way. Another aspect of dependency is how Catherine is dependent on the societal aspects of Edgar in their marriage, although it is not truly the one she wants to marry, she is dependent upon Edgar solely for the status he holds.
Wuthering Heights was a book I thoroughly enjoyed reading. In the last chapters, I found myself questioning a few of the characters. I almost looked at the ending as how Heathcliff’s everlasting wish for his life, that is to be with Catherine again, came true. And the entire books issues and arguments came back to where it all started. One theme that is prevalent throughout the novel is love, but overall the entire book seems like it was an everlasting struggle between love, power, and gender. I found a lot of repetition in the relationships throughout the story. For example, parallels can be drawn between Heathcliff and Catherines relationship with Cathy and Linton, and Cathy and Hareton. Love seems to be the underlying driving force for all the chaos, and when it does not go a certain way, the love is then turned into hatred and revenge, as we saw with Heathcliff. I think the patterns I have been noticing throughout the book are very characteristic of the Victorian era. In connection to some research we have done about the gender norms and hierarchical constructed power, we see this a lot in the novel. We spoke about the blurred boundaries between genders and we see this with many characters. For example Bronte gives voice to females in the book, where during this time period women did not have too much of a voice and were expected to behave in certain ways. Even up until the end when Cathy is abused by Heathcliff, it creates an interesting dynamic between the gender roles. Additionally, men were supposed to be these proper gentlemen which sometimes is not the case as well; this all linking to societal expectations of gender. I feel like I kind of went all over the place in this connection, but my mind is overflowing with thoughts about the books and connections, reflecting both on how stereotypical and non-stereotypical norms are prevalent through the book.
While continuing to read Wuthering Heights, I can’t help but feel sympathy for the children. In The Cry of the Children, freedom is spoken about in regard to children and animals, how animals had more freedom than children. I think it is interesting to relate this to Wuthering Heights. Within the chapters 17-25 for this week, we see how Cathy has no freedom to do what she wants. On the contrary, Heathcliff growing up has freedom to do whatever he pleased, maybe not in a social standing status, but with his actions (gender?). This eventually leads her to sneaking around to Wuthering Heights at times. However, this lack of freedom to see who she wants only furthers her attraction to do so. A prominent feature of Victorian parenting seems to be that of having control as well as portraying some affection, in most cases. This freedom that is not all that prevalent in Cathy’s life directly correlates to freedom of emotions as well. We see how Cathy and Linton are forced to contain their emotional attraction towards one another as the surrounding issues of their families will not allow for it, as Cathy is fed lies about bad things about Linton and Heathcliff in order to persuade her from wanting to go there. This is an interesting topic to contrast as well. How come Nelly allows so much freedom for Cathy in these chapters, whereas her father would never have allowed? What does that say about their relationship? Why does it seem Nelly has such a greater connection and tolerance for Cathy rather than for when she cared for her mother Catherine? It is really interesting to think about this contrast of freedom between the characters, focusing on their genders as well, as they develop throughout Wuthering Heights, and more specifically how this freedom impacts their societal choices.
Catherine Earnshaw is one character who I am so intrigued by. She has this independence quality to her which defies certain aspects of Victorian stereotypes during the 18th century. Interestingly enough, Wuthering Heights provides a great contrast between gender roles and stereotypes. As my group had to do the research for this weeks discussion, we found a great article that touches on feminist and marxist theories in the novel. One of these aspects we researched is how women were forced into a role to transform themselves and fit other roles that may not be themselves, all for a man. She transitions from a rebellious daughter to a delirious wife character all to fill identities that are basically assigned to her. This touches on a theme we have talked about in class. Women are forced into these submissive roles in order to fulfill an ideal of their gender. Catherine specifically, shows this dynamic character. It is just clear gender roles is a great theme that seems growing in our discussions. In relation to other texts we touched on, specifically the connection to gender equality, it made me think of Carlyles Democracy, as Carlyle takes a superior role over women. This male dominance is conveyed in Wuthering Heights, however, it has kind of a conflicting comparison. At some points the roles seem reversed in a way. Regardless, Wuthering Heights brings up great analytical aspects to masculine and feminine characteristics during the victorian era. Martineau’s Society in America brings up great contrasting points to the same aspects. Specifically, how Martineau expressed her views on women rights. We spoke about how it was uncommon for women to express their grievances in general during this time period, so Martineau challenging that norm is a great connection here. I see the same connection with Catherine as she seems to challenge her role at times. Lastly, Mary Wollstonecraft compares women and their relationships with men to a “doll-Madonna” which further sheds light on women acting as a doll, transforming into a role solely for others.