The Conflict Between Nature and Culture in Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë and a Room with a View by E.M.Forster

1649 Words Oct 20th, 2011 7 Pages
“Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains.” - Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Many readers enjoy ‘Wuthering Heights’ as a form of escapism, a flight from reality into the seclusion and eerie mists of the Yorkshire moors, where the supernatural seems commonplace and the searing passion between Catherine and Heathcliff absolute. Yet Wuthering Heights reaches much further than its atmospheric setting, exploring the complexities of family relationships and Victorian society’s restrictions; similarly, in ‘A Room with a View’, E.M. Forster expands the relationship between Lucy and George to address wider social issues. Both novels explore and dramatise the conflict between human nature and society, between nature and culture.
Both Emily Brontë
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Cathy and Heathcliff cast off any guidance offered by society, whereas Lucy clings to her Baedeker, afraid of making decisions and forming her own opinions – things that were not expected of a woman in Edwardian society.
Cathy, seduced by the comfort and luxury of the Grange, becomes civilised to the point of being unrecognisable to Heathcliff when she “sails in” to Wuthering heights in her fine clothes. Ellen describes the reception of, “instead of the wild hatless little savage jumping into the house, and rushing to squeeze us all breathless ... a very dignified person”. The reader sees the events through the eyes of Ellen, and although she certainly approves of the transformation, it is likely that Bronte, and subsequently the reader, does not. The fact that she refrains from displaying her joy at being reunited with her family and will not hug them, suggests that her unguarded passion has been repressed by the influence of the refined Lintons. In much the same way, Lucy, while visiting Cecil’s mother, “kept to Schuman” as was proper, rather than releasing her passion in a torrent of Beethoven as she did in Italy. Both women have conformed to the obligations of society rather than freely expressing emotion, resulting in loss of self and surrender to “darkness” – the concept of which is more ambiguous for Bronte, as Heathcliff is the main association with darkness, described by Catherine as an “unreclaimed creature”, not quite part of the human world.

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