Essay on 'Wuthering Heights' Vs' Jane Eyre'

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In the world literature, the British writer Bronte sisters play a significant role. Their works “Jane Eyre” and “Wuthering Heights” have been translated into dozens of languages and hundreds of versions, which are widely loved by world literature lovers. “Jane Eyre” with its strong subjective color and unrestrained characteristics, was well received by readers at that time. Wuthering Heights adopted a variety of narrative structures, on the contrary, many people did not understand the author's intention in the social background at that time. Compared to these two works, “Jane Eyre” narrated in a single form, and narrated some comments from her point of view, which could stimulate the enthusiasm of readers, but “Wuthering Heights” used a variety of narrative structures to tell the story from multiple modes and gave a complex experience.

Time is an essential element of narrative literature. A work must involve two kinds of time, namely story time and narrative time. The mutual contrast between story time and narrative time forms the time sequence. Different starting points of narration starting point in the novel narrative in the arrangement of time is very important. “Jane Eyre” used chronological narration. The story of “Jane Eyre” started when Jane was 10 years old and ended when Jane and Rochester met again. It has a total of 18 years and adopts a plain and direct narration structure. Jane lost her parents and went to live with her uncle. After a conflict with her aunt and cousin, she was sent to boarding school and became a governess. She falls in love with the hero Rochester, but finds Rochester had another wife on the eve of their marriage, angry and runs away, finally, two people have a happy ending. The story of “Jane Eyre” involves only two generations, and there are no significant figures in the previous generation, so the whole story revolves around the growth and emotional process of the protagonist. However, “Wuthering Heights” breaks the linear narrative sequence and adopts the reverse chronological narration. The whole novel spans 31 years from 1771 when Heathcliff was brought to Wuthering Heights by old Sean from Liverpool to the autumn of 1802 when little Catherine and Hareton became a couple. Instead of starting from the beginning and starting from the end, the author arranged the beginning of the narrative in the winter of 1801, near the end of the story, so that the plot developed in both directions. This narrative method breaks the traditional narrative structure model and it can motivate the reader’s imagination. What’s more, it can also add suspense to the story. The comparison shows that “Wuthering Heights” has a more complex narrative method than “Jane Eyre”.

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On the other hand, the narrative perspective can also see the difference between the two works. Nearly half a century, western researchers carried on the thorough discussion to the narrative perspective. Different people have diverse opinions. But the consensus is that all the work has a narrator, he is a description of behavior directly. This behavior through to the operation of the certain narrative discourse eventually created a narrative text. Both “Wuthering Heights” and “Jane Eyre” are narrated in the first person, but the setting of the narrators is different. “Jane Eyre” is an autobiographical firm, the author chose Jane Eyre do the narrator in the story, and only set up a storyteller, and only one person narrated the whole story from beginning to end. According to an academic journal, “We can find that in the first few days when Jane Eyre came to Lowood, she had a vague understanding of the new environment, especially other girls, which made it difficult for her to distinguish the subjectivity of personality and social problems (Bennett 307). It was not settled until she and Helen became good friends. This narration shows Jane Eyre’s shyness. However, In Emily's only novel, “Wuthering Heights”, the author sets two different narrators, the marginal characters in the informed story, Nelly Dean, and the tenant in the outsider story, Mr. Lockwood. The first narrator is Lockwood, who comes from a distant country and knows nothing about the present and history of Wuthering Heights. In the first part of the novel, the first three chapters, Lockwood tells the story of his first visit to Wuthering Heights, describing some puzzling things. Curious, he asked Nelly, the housekeeper, to tell him the whole story of Wuthering Heights. At this time, Nelly Dean acted as both the character and the second narrator of the novel, Mr. Lockwood became as much an audience as the reader. An academic journal claims that Wuthering Heights is a schizophrenic novel, in other words, it was written in two hands, one as the narrator and the other as the author (London 36). “Wuthering Heights” adopts a unique perspective, narrating the story of Wuthering Heights from the perspectives of strangers and insiders respectively. Jane Eyre’s single perspective created a live and vivid female character and it shows her inward world to readers and improves the work. In addition, “Wuthering Heights” changed narrators to add a sense of reality to the story.

The existence of the narrator in a story is not only reflected in the content of narration but also the action of narration. It means that what mood and attitude to narrate is the decisive key. Different narrative styles can also be distinguished by the differences in narrative voice According to one paragraph of “Jane Eyre”, Jane said to her aunt, “I am glad you are no relation of mine. I will never call you aunt again as long as I live. I will never come to visit you when I am grown up; and if anyone asks me how I liked you, and how you treated me, I will say the very thought of you makes me sick, and that you treated me with miserable cruelty…” (Fukunaga). This paragraph shows the outburst of her emotions. Jane's determined attitude showed her integrity, after which her emotions were released. Meanwhile, it also deepens the character. This paragraph shows the outburst of her emotions, Jane's determined attitude shows her integrity, and after that, her emotions were released thoroughly. On the other hand, there are some special paragraphs in “Wuthering Heights”. For example, in the first chapter, “But Mr. Heathcliff forms a singular contrast to his abode and style of living. He is a dark-skinned gypsy in aspect, dress, and manners a gentleman, that is, as much a gentleman as many a country squire: rather slovenly, perhaps, yet not looking amiss with his negligence, because he has an erect and handsome figure—and rather morose. Possibly, some people might suspect him of a degree of under-bred pride; I have a sympathetic chord within that tells me it is nothing of the sort: I know, by instinct, his reserve springs from an aversion to showy displays of feeling—to manifestations of mutual kindliness. He’ll love and hate, equally under cover, and esteem it a species of impertinence to be loved or hated again—No, I’m running on too fast—I bestow my attributes over-liberally on him.” (Brontë 44-46). The above words are from Mr. Lockwood. This is his basic impression and image of Mr. Heathcliff’s character. Meanwhile, it also leads readers to misunderstand his character. After Mr. Heathcliff’s history is revealed, people can see that his assumption is wrong. The above two examples illustrate that different narrative voices will influence the reader’s understanding of the work. Multiple narrative voices not only satisfy narrative needs but also enhance the level of literature.

If the love in Jane Eyre is civilized and pure, then the love in Wuthering Heights is wild and painful. The two works also describe different concepts of love. In Phillips’ article, he claims that no one in Wuthering Heights can make Catherine Earnshaw realize that it is immoral to love two men at the same time (Phillips 96). She tried to explain that she had neither betrayed Linton nor betrayed Heathcliff because her love for one does not affect the other (Phillips 96). People can feel a love that contains the moral ethics of love thinking. Emily did not hide many dark things in love, such as hatred, vanity, suspicion, mutual harm, and even self-abuse. Conversely, “Jane Eyre” narrates a romantic love story to people. The love between Jane Eyre and Rochester is like a lucky flower, which can still bloom in the desolate and blackish ruins. According to a journal, Davis claims that when Jane Eyre is called by Rochester's soul in the shadow of cold St. John Rivers, this serious fragile incredible natural love comes to life (Davis 116). This shows Jane Eyre's pursuit and yearning for true love and Jane Eyre's loyalty to love makes people moved.

In conclusion, through comparison, People can see that the authors of “Jane Eyre” and “Wuthering Heights” respectively adopted different narrative strategies according to their story content, creative personality, and understanding of love. Eventually, they created two great works of literature.

Reference

    1. Bennett, Ashly. “Shameful Signification: Narrative and Feeling in Jane Eyre.” Narrative, vol. 18, no. 3, Oct. 2010, pp. 300–323. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1353/nar.2010.0005.
    2. Brontë, Emily, 1818-1848. Wuthering Heights. London; New York: Penguin Books, 2003.
    3. DAVIS, MARY ANN. “‘On the Extreme Brink’ with Charlotte Brontë: Revisiting Jane Eyre’s Erotics of Power.” Papers on Language & Literature, vol. 52, no. 2, Spring 2016, pp. 115–148. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=116368222&site=ehost-live.
    4. Jane Eyre. Dir. Cary Fukunaga. 2011.
    5. Wuthering Heights is a schizophrenic novel, in other words, written in two hands, one as the narrator and the other as the author, Bette. “Wuthering Heights and the Text Between the Lines.” Papers on Language & Literature, vol. 24, no. 1, Winter 1988, p. 34. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=7728487&site=ehost-live.
    6. Phillips, James. “The Two Faces of Love in Wuthering Heights.” Bronte Studies, vol. 32, no. 2, July 2007, pp. 96–105. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1179/147489307X182844.
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