Sunday, September 19, 2010

WUTHERING HEIGHTS continued and “Why am I so changed?”: Vampiric Selves and Gothic Doubleness in Wuthering Heights by Lakshmi Krishnan

For next week, read through the rest of Wuthering Heights and Lakshmi Krishnan’s essay “Why am I so changed?”: Vampiric Selves and Gothic Doubleness in Wuthering Heights.”

Your blogs will be due on Wednesday at 11:59 pm.

Your comments on other student blogs will be due by FRIDAY at 11:59.

In addition to your blogs and comments, you also must post in one or more of the discussion forums on my blog by Friday at 11:59 pm. You do NOT have to post in all of the forums, but I will be assessing you on how well you are able to respond to the various prompts and each others' ideas. Remember that Forum C is an open forum, so if there is something you would like to discuss that hasn't been addressed by me or another student, please post there.

1) Krishnan opens her essay with a discussion of the literary gothic. Do some independent research on this term and explain how it might apply to Wuthering Heights using examples from the text to defend your answer. Take some time to also explain how Krishnan uses this term in her essay. In what ways does she frame WH as a gothic novel and do you agree with her assessment?

2) Krishnan writes:

If we conceive of death signifying ultimate understanding, and life as an enigmatic riddle, then vampires stand at the threshold between incomprehension and ultimate knowledge. They serve as a weighty metaphor for the individual self, poised on the brink – either of discovery or dissolution – at a time when internal forces threatened it as much as external ones. The vampire is a poignant symbol for an era obsessed with defining the self, with demarcating boundaries between the “Ich” and “Nicht ich,” while simultaneously realizing that these margins were more indistinct than previously hoped. (4)

What do you think Krishnan means by this statement? Given our reading of Polidori’s The Vampyre and WH, in what ways do we see a pervasive dualism in both texts? How do both of these texts serve as explorations in the nature of the “self”? Can we read Lord Aubrey’s physical and mental deterioration in similar moments in WH?

3) Last week, many student bloggers explored the narrative properties of WH and examined how the novel changed according to who was telling the story. For this blog, rewrite a key scene from WH but tell it from another character’s point of view.

4) Krishnan acts us to read WH as a kind of vampire novel. Do you think her argument is convincing? Why or why not? Does WH belong in a class about the vampire, in your opinion? Use examples from the essay and the novel to support your position.

5) Read through the excerpt below from Sir William Blackstone’s Commentary on the Laws of England:

Book the First : Chapter the Fifteenth : Of Husband and Wife pp 431-432
By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law: that is, the very being or legal
existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and
consolidated into that of the husband: under whose wing, protection, and cover, she performs
everything; and is therefore called in our law-french a feme-covert; is said to be covert-baron, or
under the protection and influence of her husband, her baron, or lord; and her condition during
her marriage is called her coverture. Upon this principle, of a union of person in husband and
wife, depend almost all the legal rights, duties, and disabilities that either of them acquire by the
marriage. I speak not at present of the rights of property, but of such as are merely personal. For
this reason, a man cannot grant anything to his wife, or enter into covenant with her: for the grant
would be to suppose her separate existence; and to covenant with her, would be only to covenant
with himself: and therefore it is also generally true, that all compacts made between husband and
wife, when single, are voided by the intermarriage. A woman indeed may be attorney for her
husband; for that implies no separation from, but is rather a representation of, her lord. And a
husband may also bequeath anything to his wife by will; for that cannot take effect till the
coverture is determined by his death. The husband is bound to provide his wife with necessaries
by law, as much as himself; and if she contracts debts for them, he is obliged to pay them: but for
any thing besides necessaries, he is not chargeable. Also if a wife elopes, and lives with another
man, the husband is not chargeable even for necessaries; at last if the person, who furnishes
them, is sufficiently apprized of her elopement. If the wife be indebted before marriage, the
husband is bound afterwards to pay the debt; for he has adopted her and her circumstances
--Blackstone, Sir William. Commentaries on the Laws of England (1st Ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1765-1769.

With the reality of English marriage laws in the 19th century in mind, return to the novel and find places where the discussion of “land” and “land inheritance” play a large role in the shaping of characters and events. What role might the transmission of wealth and the shifting of land and inheritance play in the development of the novel in general? What role does it seem to play in the vampire novel?

6) Compare WH with some modern vampire novels, specifically looking at Heathcliff as the “Byronic hero” and comparing him with some contemporary “Byronic” vampires. Use pictures, youtube videos, and fansites to support your comparison.

7) Watch a film version of WH and compare its narrative style to the novel. What sort of licenses does the filmmaker take with the story in his or her adaptation? What changes and why?

8) Finally, for those Twilight fans out there, compare WH to the Bella/Edward obsession. There are many WH references in the Twilight series. Explain what those references are and how we might use a better understanding of WH to "read" the cultural phenomenon that is the Twilight series.

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