‘Families act as the moral centre.’ Explore the presentation of families in light of this statement.
In both Wuthering Heights and The Colour Purple, the main moral guidance is given by those who are not directly related to the characters. Although in Wuthering Heights there are aspects of love and support between many individuals, often the main source of direction is from Nelly, a servant.
Nelly’s supposed role as a servant quickly escalates into that of friend, nurse and surrogate mother. Bronte depicts Nelly as a strong, female character through the use of the dual narrative. Lockwood’s male narrative frames and legitimates hers; authenticating her words and representing her as a reliable source of information. For Catherine Earnshaw, Nelly is the one person she can turn to when faced with problems, such as her confirmed engagement with Edgar. In Chapter 9, Catherine laments to Nelly of how ‘It would degrade me [Catherine] to marry Heathcliff now’ although their souls are the ‘same’. This is an example of how Nelly, being an almost peripheral character within the plot, actually is a key source for moral guidance.
Often, religion acts as a place of refuge for those in troubled times. However, in Wuthering Heights, religion is rejected. The servant, Joseph, professes to be a source of religious guidance with his constant lecturing. However, he exploits the worst qualities of self-righteousness and malice – often referring to Heathcliff as the ‘devil’. Any attempts at guidance, however, are proved useless when Catherine throws the Bible into the fire and turns his ‘religious curses into ridicule’ – demonstrating her dogged refutation of conventional beliefs.
Within Wuthering Heights, the two houses act as a literary microcosm of the social society of the time. Thrushcross Grange represents culture and refinement, whilst the Heights represent nature and primitiveness. This links to the overall motif throughout the novel of nature verses culture....