Saturday, September 11, 2010


For next week, read up to page 160 (or Chapter 17) of 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.

Given our discussion in
Forum B last week, I thought it would serve students best to have more time to formulate their comments on other students' blogs. I hope this will help with the workload and provide you with greater opportunity to develop strong responses to each others' work.

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.

Here are some questions to get you started on your blogs. Feel free to use them or develop your own. Remember, you can also write a blog responding to another student's post.

1) Read through Rachel’s blog on the Byronic Hero

and discuss the ways in which we could characterize Heathcliff as a sort of Byronic hero. In what ways is he similar to Lord Ruthven? Include passages from the text to support your answer. In what ways does Heathcliff’s character inform later vampire characters? Make sure to use examples to support your ideas.

2) Compare the descriptions of Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights. What sort of duality do these two localities represent? Furthermore, how do characters change dependent on their locations in the novel? Draw from specific passages in the novel to support your answer.

3) 1847, the year Bronte wrote her novel, was one of the most calamitous years of the Irish famine or what is now more often called “The Great Hunger.” During this time, England saw an incredible wave of Irish immigration in London, Manchester, and most especially Liverpool. These poor Irish people were most likely sick, emaciated, dirty, spoke Irish Gaelic, and probably seemed to most English people as alien invaders from another planet than human beings and citizens in their so-called “United” Kingdom. During the famine, which killed over a million Irish people, the English government turned a blind eye to Ireland, avoiding the problem rather than working towards providing effective relief. In Heathcliff and the Great Hunger by Terry Eagleton, he explains the way in which Ireland figured as England’s “unconscious” (9), and sees Heathcliff as a “fragment of the famine” (11). He writes:

Part of the horror of the Famine is its atavistic nature—the mind-shaking fact that an event with all the premodern character of a medieval pestilence happened in Ireland with frightening recentness. This deathly origin then shatters space as well as time, unmaking the nation and scattering Irish history across the globe. That history will of course continue; but as in Emily Bronte’s novel there is something recalcitrant at its core which defeats articulation, some ‘real’ which stubbornly refuses to be symbolized. In both cases, this ‘real’ is a voracious desire which was beaten back and defeated, which could find no place in the symbolic order of social time and was expunged from it, but which like the shades of Catherine and Heathcliff will return to haunt a history now in the process of regathering its stalled momentum and moving onwards and upwards. Some primordial trauma has taken place, which fixates your development at one level even as you continue to unfold at another, so that time in Irish history and Wuthering Heights would seem to move backwards and forwards simultaneously. Something anyway, for good or ill, has been irrevocably lost; and in both Ireland and the novel it takes up its home on the alternative side of myth. (14-15)

Explain what you think Eagleton means in the passage above. What do you think of Heathcliff as a “fragment” of the Famine, or as a colonial “Other”? How do he and Catherine “haunt” history? What does that mean? Eagleton says that that time in Irish history and Wuthering Heights “would seem to move backwards and forwards simultaneously.” Where do you see evidence of this in the novel? What does Eagleton mean by the very last statement? How do these characters’ lives become the embodiment of myth? Who (or what?) is lost to “myth”?

4) How do Mr. Lockwood and Nelly Dean influence the story as narrators? Do you think they are completely reliable observers? How do they perceive the events at Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange? Use examples from the text to support your answer.

5) How would you characterize the novel’s female characters? Do you find these female characters sympathetic? Are they victims of the patriarchal forces around them or are they simply the harbingers of their own self-destruction? Use examples to support your answer.

6) Read through these contemporary reviews of Wuthering Heights.

How would you characterize these reviews? What do these reviews say about the times in which Emily Brontë published her novel and the reading public at large? Do you think we modern readers see this novel differently, or do some of these criticisms still hold true to you today? Explain your answer using the novel for support of your claims.

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