Wuthering Heights and Kleist's Novellen: Rousseauian Nature, Spontaneous Love, Infancy and the Performative Subversion of the Law
Keywords:Wuthering Heights, Kleist's Novelein, Der Findling, Rousseau, Romanticism
This article analyses the numerous thematic similarities between Wuthering Heights and Heinrich von Kleist’s Novellen, especially “Der Findling”. I justify this seemingly unconventional comparison on the basis that both Kleist and Emily Brontë were deeply influenced by Rousseau’s works and by his novel, Julie, ou, la
Nouvelle Héloïse (1761). The works of both authors share a typically Rousseauian theme: a hostility toward urban civilization and a strong intimacy with nature. This theme is loaded with ideological force and is present in at least four subthemes: the communion with nature, natural childhood, the nature of spontaneous love and the parodic reiteration of the normative community. Thus, although there is no evidence of Brontë’s direct knowledge of Kleist’s work, I suggest that their shared recourse to a common precursor may account for the uncanny similarity between Kleist’s Novellen and Wuthering Heights.
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