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Durham University

Department of English Studies


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Publication details for Professor Sarah Wootton

Wootton, S. (2016). Emily Brontë's Darkling Tales. Romanticism 22(3): 299-311.

Author(s) from Durham


This essay examines light and dark as coalescing and contradictory ‘opposites’ in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. The resonant interplay of light and dark in the novel, as captured and reworked to startling effect in Rosalind Whitman's series of etchings Black and White in Wuthering Heights, is conceived in the shadow of Romanticism. Subjecting Romantic ideals and anxieties to the pressure of Victorian prose darkens, if not quite eclipses, Keats's ‘truth of Imagination’, and thereby situates the novel at an interpretative crossroads. Wuthering Heights is poised on a literary fault-line, as an heir to the Romantic tradition that simultaneously heralds the advent of Modernism. As readers of Emily Brontë’s novel, we, like the gaunt thorns and stunted firs that cling to the landscape surrounding the Heights, are hardened by the inhospitable terrain of the text and yearn for the light amidst a dense and disorientating post-Romantic darkness.

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