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Literary Analysis to Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë - tasks

Literary Analysis

Setting

Setting plays a vital role in this novel.

  1. During what periods in time does the story take place?
  2. How do the setting and seasonal changes affect the overall atmosphere of the story?
  3. How do the seasonal changes affect the characters? Give examples.
  4. Describe Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. How do they differ?

Characterization

  1. Make a character table of the following characters: Catherine Earnshaw, Hindley Earnshaw, Heathcliff, Ellen Dean, Mr Lockwood, Frances Earnshaw, Edgar Linton, Isabella Linton, Joseph, Cathy, Hareton Earnshaw, Linton Heathcliff, using the character traits below.
    • Age and physical appearance
    • Personality traits
    • Strengths and weaknesses
    • Stereotype
    • Static character/developing character
  2. What do they symbolize?
  3. What is it that you like or dislike about them?
  4. What picture do they give of human nature?
  5. Who are the villains in the story?
  6. Who are the heroes
  7. Who are the heroines?
  8. What side of human nature do they represent?

Plot and Structure

  1. Sum up the plot of the story
    • Explain any symmetry in the plot of the story
  2. How is the novel structured? Include:
    • a family tree outlining the Earnshaws and Lintons
    • a timeline of major events in the novel
  3. Turning points
    • Where do they take place?
    • Where does the climax take place? Why?

Conflict or Tension

What is/are the main conflict/s in the story?

Tragedy

  1. Which scenes or episodes can be said to be most tragic?
  2. What scenes are the most violent?

Suspense

  1. What elements does Brontë use to build up suspense in the novel?
  2. Which scenes are the most exciting?

Narrators and Point of View

  1. Who are the narrators of the story?
  2. How do they differ in point of view?
  3. Does the author speak through them?

Theme

Choose one of the following themes and write an essay where you discuss and exemplify how the theme is developed in the novel.

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• selfish love
• obsession
• power struggles
• vengeance
• violence
• women’s rights
• child abuse
• madness
• literacy
• superstition


Style

  1. Language
    • Dialogue and slang
      Read More

      Brontë uses rustic dialects throughout the novel. What are some of the characteristics in the way that Joseph and the young Hareton speak? Can you find any stock phrases or expressions that are individual to our characters?
      Choose one of Joseph’s monologues and rewrite it in everyday English.

    • Rhythm
      Read More

      Rhythm is “an ordered recurrent alternation of strong and weak elements in the flow of sound and silence in speech” according to the Merriam Webster dictionary. It is an important element in the novel.
      Find examples of Brontë's use of rhythm through the narratives of Nelly and Lockwood. How do the different rhythms affect the storyline?

  2. Tone
    • Describe the tone of the story
    • Are there any shifts in tone during the novel?
  3. Symbols. What do the following symbols or images represent?
    • Wuthering Heights
    • Thrushcross Grange
    • The Moors
    • Nature
    • Weather
    • The Oak-Paneled Bed
    • Boundaries i.e. windows, doors
    • Ghosts
    • Dogs
    • King Lear (Chpt II)

Discussion

Discuss the following with a partner:

  1. Heathcliff’s mental health. How would you describe it?
  2. Catherine’s madness scene in Chapter XII. Is she convincing to us as readers?
  3. As children and adolescents Cathy and Heathcliff seem to enjoy a sexless yet wild existence which develops into violent and consuming passion. What does this say about romantic love?
  4. Linton’s behavior encourages both our pity and disgust.

Writing


Choose ONE of the following topics and write an essay:

Essay
  1. Heathcliff’s brutality and violence increase and gain momentum throughout the book. How is this behavior demonstrated? Are there any extenuating circumstances that encourage this behavior?
  2. Ellen Dean is a guide and advisor to the children throughout the book. Point out passages in the text where she guides and advises. What do you think of her guidance? Is she correct in her assumptions and advice? Where would you have given different advice?
  3. As readers we question the rights of women in Wuthering Heights. What roles do the different female characters play? In what ways were they able or unable to influence their situation?
  4. Tuberculosis or consumption was rampant in England during the 1800’s. How does this disease affect the behavior of some of Brontë’s characters?
  5. Although Wuthering Heights cannot be called a religious novel, we find many religious references. Explain Brontë’s use of religion.
  6. Analyze the discussion between Catherine and Nelly regarding whether Cathy should have accepted Linton’s proposal of marriage or not. What does Nelly focus on and what does Catherine focus on?
  7. The ending to Wuthering Heights has been a topic of controversy by many critics. Write your own ending to Wuthering Heights. Explain your reasons for the changes.

Diary Entry
Choose one of the characters and write an entry for his or her diary for one day.

Book Review
Write a book review as it would be presented in a literary magazine.

Write an Interview
Choose your favorite character and write an interview for TV or radio. Together with a partner, you may record the interview using a sound editor (e.g.audacity).

Write a Story
Some critics have suggested that Heathcliff may have been the older Earnshaw’s illegitimate son. Make up your own story regarding Heathcliff’s origins. Who were his mother and father? Where did he come from? Why had he been left alone?

Project Work

Choose ONE of the following topics:

Topics
  1. The life of Emily Brontë is as fascinating as her novel. Go online and find material on the life and times of Emily Bronté. Make her personal history come to life. Explain what influenced her imagination and work. Then make a digital presentation of your findings to the class including music, historical photos/ painting from magazines and newspapers found online.
  2. The Earnshaws and the Lintons were part of the landed gentry in England. Go online and find background material to the different social classes found in English society in the 1800s. How were the classes defined? Give a short description what their everyday life was like. Be sure to find pictures to back up your description.
  3. Read through the last scene between Heathcliff and Catherine Linton from Chapter XV. Practice reading it out loud to each using as much fervor and passion as possible. Then make a video of it using YouTube.

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