Discuss outsiders and normalization in Withering Heights Isolation and normalization are key themes that run throughout the novel. They are shown in a variety of ways such as, the two main houses (Withering heights and Treacherous Grange), the normalization of the lower classes and also the isolation of individual characters. A literary critique by Katherine Swan suggested that ‘Withering Heights’ was a novel filled with ‘dark passion and misguided characters’ and I believe the isolation of the moors and normalization of central characters only fuels this. Live that Handled is a hearted that throughout the novel is in many ways an outsider. When Heathenish joins his family, him and Cathy become extremely close which therefore leaves Handled somewhat alone. On top of this, it is obvious that their father favors Heathenish which further isolates him and makes him extremely jealous. You cannot deny the fact that Handled is absolutely vile towards Heathenish, but would suggest that this behavior is further fuelled by the fact that Handled is quite alone.
Later in the book, when Handle’s wife dies, he takes the death terribly and begins to drink heavily and seclude himself from everyone. He is described to ‘give himself up to reckless disposition’ and ‘neither weep nor pray’. The death of his wife drives him into solitude. He pushes others away through his tyrannical attitude and numbs himself from the world through alcohol. Handled is just one of many characters who isolate themselves and becomes an outsider from the rest of the world.
Jamie S Crocus suggests an idea of a ‘psychological confinement’ which applies to certain characters within the novel. Believe that this is certainly true in terms of Heathenish who, after Scathe’s death, is haunted constantly and draws into himself, only left having one vengeful agenda. In front of others, he appears to be a brooding and rude man, but in his own mind, he is lamenting over the loss of Cathy and feels she is haunting him. It is interesting that the idea of pushing people away cannot only be relevant in terms of something physical, but also mentally.
This is definitely true in terms of Heathenish who could be said to make himself an outsider in many ways, dealing with his own mental suffering. Another example of being an outsider is expressed through the two main houses in ‘Withering Heights’. Treacherous Grange and Withering Heights are geographically excluded from the outside world. There is only those to houses and then vast moorland between and around for a long distance. Believe that this isolation adds to the fact that this is a book of the gothic genre with an air of mystery and the unknown. It keeps our focus solely on the two households.
It also emphasizes the fact that the only characters and relationships that we witness are from those two houses which highlights the incestuous nature of the story. The theme of normalization is highlighted through the way Heathenish is treated at the beginning Of the Story, compared to when he returns to Withering Heights as a rich gentleman. When we are introduced to Heathenish, he is a gypsy orphan who has no money or education. His adoptive father tries to integrate him as part of the family but Handled never treats him as such and Heathenish therefore would never have felt his complete equal.
When Handled takes over from his father, he makes it so Heathenish is unable to get an education and treats him as a servant as opposed to a brother. When Heathenish leaves and mysteriously manages to make a lot of money, he becomes largely focused on gaining control of both Withering Heights and Treacherous grange. His revenge seems to stem from class discrimination hat he faced when he was young. Heathenish even denies Handle’s son Hearten an education which creates the image of a vicious circle and history repeating itself.
Even though Withering Heights’ TV’0 families live out in the middle of nowhere, class is still an important issue within both houses. People throughout the novel are often marginal’s due to their class. Boron highlights this through Catering’s desire to marry Edgar Linton, who is richer and of a higher social status that Heathenish. Although both houses are part of the upper middle class, marriage to Edgar Linton is still the means through which Catherine believes she will becomes the ‘greatest woman of the neighborhood” as he shown to be better off and more of a gentleman.
Catherine poses a significant question to Newly asking whether it struck her that if Heathenish and I married, we should be beggars? Whereas if I marry Linton, can aid Heathenish to rise and place him out of my brother’s power’. You may question whether this is Catering’s only motive or whether she is actually drawn in by the idea of being seen as a ‘great’ woman to other which, by looking at her character and previous behavior, would not be surprising. This once again highlights how class can marginal’s characters within Withering Heights’.
I believe that normalization is also used here to highlight the significance of social class when the book was written. In many ways, Emily Bronze lived in a much more pollarded society and this novel highlights how people craved to move higher up the social ladder. Overall I would say that outsiders and normalization are key themes throughout ‘Withering Heights’ and they add to the gothic and melancholy feel of the text. They are also presented in a variety of ways which do not only develop retain characters but also add to the historical context of when it was written, and how important social class was.
Quite importantly it has been noted, by Joyce Carol Dates, that the Bronze’s themselves lived in ‘isolation on the Yorkshire Moors’, calling it ‘the edge of the world’, and so it is likely Emily took inspiration from her own life. Dates perfectly puts that ‘life fuels art’ which definitely applies here. You can see how Bronze has used her own life for inspiration and this in itself adds another layer of complexity to the novel, and is one of the many things which makes it such a literary classic.