The romantic – gothic novel
Wuthering Heighs by Emily Bronte
Gothic elements- the presence of supernatural elements like the ghost and the theme of the unquiet grave, the gloomy atmoshere.
Setting- the story takes place in Yorkshire in the wild moor, a place where the weather is changeable and it is often windy, foggy, stormy with thunder and lightning reflecting the emotions and passions of the characters .
The story of the two families- the Earnshaws and the Lintons- is set in their two houses : Thruscross Grange ,the refined, comfortable ,well-furnished mansion typical of the Victorian middle-class and the primitive, wild Wuthering Heights representing the natural forces.
Characters-Heathcliff- he is the dark , byronic hero who goes against the Victorian rules of respectability, so he is a rebel. He is handsome , but wild, rough, enigmatic, of mysterious origin ,as he is a gipsy. He is solitary, apparently hard outside,devilish,even violent but sensitive, tender inside.He is passionate, he loves and hates at the same time, and is revengeful when his feelings are not returned.
The narrative technique- the story starts in 1801 when Mr Lockwood rents Truscross Grange and he becomes the first narrator who describes his experience in the moor and his contact with the ghost of Catherine, but it's the second narrator Nelly Dean the housekeeper who tells the story from the beginning through a long flshback to the past , exactly 30 years before, then the story ends one year later when Lockwood comes back to T.G. again in 1802 after Heathcliff's death.
The Victorian Novel
Realistic -it portrays the real world, in particular the industrial and urban settings and focusses on the life of the middle class using details and objectivity.
Social – it tried to show the problems and the needs of the poor , in particular Dickens wanted to change the society underlining the necessity of reforms to improve the situation of destitution , criminality,exploitation, industrialisation , alienation with an optimistic faith.
picaresque episodic structure- stories based on a well-built plot with a happy ending, with melodramatic elements and suspense to keep the readers'attention.
Growing-up – it narrates the life of the main character from his birth to his adult life.
Narrative technique- the narrator is in third person and omniscient- but also obtrusive as he intervenes in first person to give his personal comments aboutthe situation through comic and serious digressions.
The writer'saim is to entertain through his irony , but also to teach something about the present society leading the reader to share the writer's point of view.
Dickens- Hard Times - Characters
Mr. Gradgrind - the typical Victorian teacher described with a lot of details and repetitions (square fingers, square forehead, square legs and shoulders) is a grotesque character . To emphasize the teacher's tone and attitude, Dickens piles up adjectives and metaphors to define his aspect and personality. The humorous exaggeration of certain meaningful details always reflects Dickens' criticism of this type of education dictatorial , boring and oppressive based only on facts and rejecting imagination , creativity and emotions.
The pupils are dehumanised and considered vessels that is containers to fill in with information.
Setting - An imaginary industrialised town called Coketown is described using similes and metaphors : this town of unnatural red and black is compared to the painted face of a savage with serpents of smoke , with the piston of the steam – engine moving up and down like the head of an elephant. So Dickens stresses the unnatural aspect of the town and the dehumanising effect of the industrial life . All the repetitions stress through exaggeration the repetitiveness of daily life , the monotony of work, the alienation of human condition and the dehumanising effect of industrial life.
Oliver Twist- here Dickens critisises the middle class values, the workhouse through the life of an orphan Oliver. As he has asked for some more food , he is considered as a rebel , a criminal and is punished . He is closed in a room in total darkness and loneliness. It was a corporal and moral punishment-he was pointed to in front of the other children as a bad example not to follow.
Style- based on repetitions, comicity, caricature , hyperboles.