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Writing Styles And Themes In Wuthering Heights And Wide Sargasso Sea

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Emily Jane Bronte and Jean Rhys were born in a age that people depreciated woman and they have bias that woman cannot write a good novel, but they broke the bias by their famous article. Wuthering Heights and Wide Sargasso Sea were write by Emily Jane Bronte and Jean Rhys, they used exquisite writing to describe the characters’ activity in order to show character’s emotion and attract readers. They created a lot of influential characters, and their articles reflect the environment of 19 century’s England. There are many similarity between Wuthering Heights and Wide Sargasso Sea, their tone and style are stormy and dark, and the critical element of these two novel is love. However, subtle difference can make great changes in evaluation, and there are many difference between two novels. The narrative way of Wuthering Heights is more attractive than Wide Sargasso Sea, the love between Heathcliff and Catherine is more touching than the love between Antoniette and Richard.

In Wide Sargasso Sea, Rhys used first person perspective to recount the story, and the narrator has switch between Antoniette and Richard. Readers are easily affect by narrator’s bias because audiences always directly receive attitudes from narrator. Also, the first person perspective caused readers get limited information, and the evaluate about one character or something is one sided. On the other hand, Bronte used first person perspective in Wuthering Heights as well, but audiences have less effect from narrator and have more subjective thought. Even though Nally reporting what she experienced, the main character of the story is Heathcliff. Also, Nally does not show many opinions about other characters, and she cannot tells readers what Heathcliff or Catherine are thinking about. So, Wuthering Height seem as a third person perspective story, because of audiences have to assess a character and events by themselves, and they have a wider range to think about the story.

Both of Wide Sargasso Sea and Wuthering Heights used lots of symbolism to help the novel stand out. For example, in Wide Sargasso Sea, hair is an important symbolize, every appearance of hair has a certain meaning. Mother’s hair is the symbol of the protagonist’s childhood. As Antoniette said “The soft black hair covered me like a cape, hiding me and making me feel safe”. After natives burned her house, when Antoinette saw her mother again, her mother’s hair that symbolized beauty and peace no longer existed, she wore a long and short braid and was treated as a madman by others. Although her body still existed, her spirit crossed, and Antoinette’s childhood became as incomplete as her mother’s braid. When Antoinette on the way to the Abbey, she met two children. The boy had a red curly hair, and the girl’s hair is oil smelled and disgusting. Antoinette was terrified by them and two disgusting children symbolize the threat and oppression that Antoinette subconsciously feared. After Antoinette married with her husband. Her hair was hangs down to her waist softly, with red light and golden light shining in her hair. It symbolized her husband is indulge in her beauty and love her. But after lust, Antoinette’s hair became something that buried her husband alive and made him unable to breathe freely. The symbol of hair runs through Antoinette’s whole life. From beauty to ugliness, from possession to loss, it repeatedly symbolizes the desire and frustration in her life. Dream is another symbolism, Antoinette had the same dream three times. The first time I was bullied by black children, ‘I dreamed I was walking in the forest. Not alone. Someone who hates me follows me, but can’t see. I could hear the heavy footsteps getting closer and closer, though I struggled and cried, but I couldn’t move”. The second dream was that her stepfather was going to take her out of the monastery. She was full of fear of the outside world and dreamed of the man. ‘I followed him, scared to death, but I didn’t ask for help. If someone wanted to save me, I would refuse. It can’t escape. The man took her to a garden surrounded by walls. It was dark and she could not see the walls or the steps, but she knew where they were.” The third time she had the same dream, she was imprisoned in the attic of the English Manor. Her dream had a clear ending. She dreamed that she was lighting a candle, looking for the altar. She dreamed of her life in the raging fire, orchids, life trees, houses when she was a child, and beloved paintings. She also dreamed of the man who hated her. So she fulfilled the mission that her dream gave her. She destroyed the prison which was disguised as legal love and marriage. She found her home in the brilliant fire like a moth. In Wuthering Heights, Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange symbolize two distinct worlds and powers. Wuthering Heights symbolize the storm while Thrushcross heights symbolize the tranquility. They have a strong contrast between the dynamic and the static. Another symbolize in Wuthering Heights is windows. Windows have different symbols in different periods, which show the conflict and integration of two kinds of scenery inside and outside the windows. In Catherine’s childhood, the window symbolizes the barrier between the two granges. When Katherine is attracted by Thrushcross Grange, she chooses to enter the civilized world inside the window and leave the wild world outside the window. In Catherine’s adulthood, windows served as a vehicle for her remorse. At this time, Catherine realized that the life in the window which is live in Thrushcross Grange restricted her, and the life out of the window was what she yearned for. Also, Emily used trees to symbolize love. trees need freedom to grow which same as love. Heathcliff compared Catherine and Linton’s marriage to planting trees in flowerpots. So Catherine die in regret, because she did not get the love she expected.

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Wuthering Heights and Wide Sargasso Sea have a same theme which is love, but their expression is different. In Wide Sargasso Sea, “The theme of love is composed of many related emotions: desire, desire, trust and happiness, but also hatred, fear and jealousy” (Shmoop Editorial Team). The love between Antoinette and her husband is not pure. Richard got marry with Antoinette because she is rich and his mission is find a rich female to marry in order to get her property. When Antoinette said she does not want marry with Richard, Richard thought he is losing face, because he believed that he came from England, his lineage is noble, and a mixed race woman cannot refuse him. During honeymoon, Richard showed his love to Antoinette because he obsessed with her beauty and his sexual desire, but he did not call Antoinette with her true name, he gave an English name to her in order to satisfy his vanity. After Richard tired on Antoinette, he deserted her and lock her into a room without any mercy. Love does not connect Antoinette and Richard, the connection between them is Richard’s desires. On the other hand, in Wuthering Heights, “Heathcliff’s and Catherine’s fanatical, passionate feelings are linked to their childhood nostalgia and extend beyond the grave into the afterlife, so they must connect by love” (Shmoop Editorial Team). Heathcliff loves Catherine so much, but when he knew Catherine is going to marry with Linton, he started hate Linton’s family and Hindley’s family. Even though Catherine chose to marry with Linton, she felt remorse and pain, and she was eager to return to Heathcliff and Wuthering Heights. Catherine lost in an endless loneliness when she left Wuthering Heights and Heathcliff. Even when she died, she could not return to Wuthering Heights and became a ghost, because her soul was closely connected with Heathcliff’s soul. After Catherine die, Heathcliff lost his only comfort in the world, and his human nature inevitably became distorted and became a thorough avenger. However, Heathcliff saw himself and his undying love for Catherine from Hareton and Cathy. Their previous love made Heathcliff gave up revenge and finally got rid of it. Emily shows the brilliance of human nature and that love can transform human evil into tolerance. Human nature is distorted by love but sublimated by love as well. The love from Heathcliff symbolizes the hope and future of human beings.

As James said, “In this matter, the kind-hearted and neglected Hareton, and Catherine’s daughter found an eternal and never separated love” (James P34-36). There are many obstacles between Hareton and Cathy when they met each other. Cathy despised Hareton when she know he is her cousin because he cannot read and write. Also, Heathcliff did not allow them to have any deep communication because it is part of his revenge plan. However, they fall in love and Heathcliff acquiesced it, because this love is from Heathcliff and Catherine, Heathcliff did not want them have same experience. Because of this love is similar to Heathcliff previous experience, he can finally find himself and get relief from it, so that his humanity can return. At the same time, it shows the immortal love between him and Catherine. Despite Catherine was dead for long time, he still love her and could not forget her, this love will last until he enters cemetery.

Schakenraad introduced that“Catherine makes a clear distinction between soul and body. The soul is the real self, which is the constant and essential part of her identity. Heathcliff belongs to her soul, which is indivisible and eternal. On the other hand, her love for Edgar will change, and things in her life may change her feelings. Secondly, when Catherine entered Thrushcross Grange, she entered a world of appearances, which also had a meaning for her, and she could not easily ignore it” (Schakenraad P342). and “Wuthering Heights is the pursuit of happiness, which is repeatedly mentioned as heaven: not a traditional Christian heaven, but a happiness state that may be different for everyone” (Schakenraad P344). When Catherine lived in Thrushcross Grange, she realized that it was like a cage for her. Her soul belonged to Heathcliff, so she could not feel happiness when she live in Thrushcross Grange. At same time, Catherine is everything for Heathcliff’s life, as he said to Nally, losing Catherine is like being in hell. As the most important part of human being, soul is inseparable, but Catherine’s practice separated her soul from her body, and she could not survive like a fish out of water. Catherine knew her love for Heathcliff, but she also wanted status and honor, so she chose to marry Linton. The shackles of marriage did not make her love disappear a little bit, because it was a kind of instinctive love from self-identity and the other side’s identity. On the other hand, losing Catherine’s life meant Heathcliff lost everything. Heathcliff spent his whole life to retaliate, even to use bad means, even to violate ethics. Catherine saw her shadow in Heathcliff’s soul, and Heathcliff regarded Catherine’s love as life. This desperate love seems so tragic. Their love is purest and contains power, this kind of love that makes Heathcliff who lost Catherine turn from an angel to a devil, revenge, intrigue, unscrupulous means and so on can destroy life and show love at the same time. So the hatred, distortion and contrary to human nature in the article are the best satire to that society. The darker the article reveals, the greater the love between Catherine and Heathcliff. It is not so much a conspiracy as loyalty to love.


  1. Shmoop Editorial Team. ‘Windows, Doors, Thresholds, and Other Boundaries in Wuthering Heights.’ Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 22 Oct. 2019.
  2. Shmoop Editorial Team. ‘Wide Sargasso Sea Theme of Love.’ Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 22 Oct. 2019.
  3. Shmoop Editorial Team. ‘Wuthering Heights Theme of Love.’ Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 22 Oct. 2019.

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Writing Styles And Themes In Wuthering Heights And Wide Sargasso Sea. (2021, September 30). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 25, 2023, from
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