Wuthering Heights

Charlotte's Error: Isolationism in Wuthering Heights

Charlotte Bronte's greatest error in her preface to Wuthering Heights is her striking underestimation of Emily Bronte's understanding of the world and human nature. Charlotte writes that her sister had little knowledge of the practicalities of the world, due to her lifestyle of secluded, quiet observation. Undeniably Emily's isolationist lifestyle influenced her choices of setting and character, and Charlotte seems to think that this influence was detrimental to her sister's writing. However, upon close examination of the novel's underlying themes it becomes clear that not only did Emily have a strong, clear point of view regarding the essential nature of humans, but she chose her unique characters deliberately, as vehicles through which to convey her ideas. She was not, as Charlotte seems to believe, the unwitting victim of an unusual lifestyle, helpless to guide the flow of her ideas, but rather a woman with a definite, if perhaps unpopular, perception of human nature, and a carefully chosen method of expression.

The setting of Wuthering Heights is so surreal and horrifying that it seems impossible to believe, as Charlotte seems to, that Emily did not intentionally chose the locale, aware of the effect...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 1110 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 8550 literature essays, 2314 sample college application essays, 372 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in