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Essay: Romanticism in A Christmas Carol and Wuthering Heights

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  • Subject area(s): Literature essays
  • Reading time: 5 minutes
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  • Published: June 18, 2021*
  • File format: Text
  • Words: 1,363 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 6 (approx)
  • Tags: Charles Dickens essays
  • Romanticism in A Christmas Carol and Wuthering Heights
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In both novels, A Christmas Carol, written by Charles Dickens and Wuthering Heights, written by Emily Bronte, the authors generate powerful scenarios for the reader to understand the influence romanticism has on individuals. Charles Dickens does this by taking his character through a journey that involves going through the past, present and future and suggests a chance of redemption. Emily Bronte does this by showing her characters emotional strengths and weaknesses along with how they affect others when determining who has complete and full qualities as a person. The novels A Christmas Carol and Wuthering Heights can be viewed as novels from the time period that have a focus on romanticism and emotions, concluding how individuals inner-self emerged to be “the whole person.”

The novel, A Christmas Carol, written by Charles Dickens, portrays romanticism through the example of the character development of “Ebenezer Scrooge.” This novel begins by describing Scrooge as having zero belief or spirit about the thought of Christmas and by his different way of acting towards others with what seems like negativity, (C 2). Throughout the course of the novel, Scrooges characteristics are viewed as being a selfish man with a cold-hearted vision of life. He acts this way not because he is a terrible person, but because this was the way to be acceptable of their standards during their time period. The basis of the novel is brought to attention by Scrooge when he is approached by the ghost of his dead business partner, Jacob Marley, (C 9). Marley, describing his remorseful story, tries to persuade Scrooge to change, or else he will be sharing the same consequences of having his sprit condemned. Informed that three different spirits will appear later that night, he acts as if he does not believe, but is still frightened for their visitation, (C 15). Jacob Marley is important in this scene because he technically came for Scrooges’ sake to warn him about what could be his unpleasant future and offers him hope and change to escape his fate. The first ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Past, brings the light of truth by taking Scrooge back through his childhood and reminds him of his happier days where he was employed by the jolly Mr. Fezziwig, (C 24). This scene emphasizes what prosperity looks like, assists Scrooge in seeing his old character and because of this, helps him reflect on why he acts like he does. He also revisits his past to see the engagement of his old lady, Belle. Although they were deeply fond of each other’s presence, a separation occurred due to Scrooges motive being dictated specifically by money and their inability to love one another, (C 28). The relationship between Scrooge and Belle is very important because it reveals Scrooges main priorities and desires. It also shows him realizing the happiness Belle and her new family have, which help form his character to see his loneliness and what he has lost, (C 30). The second ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Present arrives next, taking him on a journey to reveal Christmas as it will happen that year. Scrooge is introduced to his clerk, Bob Cratchits, family Christmas and suddenly has soft feelings and passion for the way they support his disabled son, Tiny Tim, (C 40). He also finds himself being touched by the acknowledgement of himself at their Christmas dinner toast, which exemplifies that he truly does have feelings after all, (C 40). The spirit then takes him to his nephew’s house to examine their celebration, one in which he was invited but reluctant to attend. Being able to see everyone happy with each other’s company, as well as having the urge to play along with the family game, Scrooge finds a new way to visualize the gathering. Lastly, the ghost is able to broaden Scrooges view on the homeless by introducing Ignorance and Want, which are two malnourished children, (C 49). This scene is significant because after denying the homelessness’s existence and being left in an unusual place, Scrooge does not understand what he did to be abandoned and realizes his mistakes. The third ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is last, leading Scrooge through a series of events that pertain to the death of an unnamed man. Throughout this scene, the ghost displays individuals from his town discussing the death of this man. Having no respect for the dead man, he witnesses others stealing the dead man’s belongings and has very harsh feelings for their actions, (C 51). After constant begging to find out who had passed, he finds himself in a churchyard with the ghost pointing to a gravestone with his own name engraved on the top, (C 62). This is one of the most important scenes of the novel because it shows Ebenezer Scrooges character transformation to honor Christmas, do all that is right and continue to live in the past, present and future or he will die after all, (C 63). Overall, these scenes are relevant to romanticism because while Ebenezer Scrooges natural emotions are revealed through these events, the ghosts are also represented as the “hero’s” who assist him in finally seeking his true identity of being whole after all.

The gothic novel, Wuthering Heights, written by Emily Bronte, depicts romanticism in similar sorts of ways by having differences in character development through their emotions. Starting off with Cathy and Hareton, they are characterized through the use of many emotions to become the “whole person.” Although Cathy initially ridiculed Hareton’s illiteracy, she grew to show acceptance and adoration within his character. She did this by teaching Hareton how to read and then becomes whole by having intellect, (W 221). This is important in the novel because without emotions, a person is considered to be inhumane, but Cathy disproves this by being whole. Secondly, Heathcliff’s character is described as one who is a laborer that is forced to work and one whose emotions tend to show less as the novel progresses. However, this does not stop him from keeping a close relationship with Cathy. Their relationship turns from childhood friends to lovers who are passionate about what they have until one day when Cathy must recuperate from a dog bite at the Grange and gains feelings for another man named Edgar, (W 35). After five weeks had passed, she becomes captivated by Edgars love which perplexes the relationship between Cathy and Heathcliff, (W 37). Regardless of her love for Heathcliff, she makes the decision to become engaged to Edgar which drove Heathcliff to run away and show his true colors by returning to seek revenge on those who have mistreated him, (W 59). Before becoming ill, Cathy resembles her love and hope for his return by stating that she is Heathcliff and by showing emotions that she has always had an interest in him, (W 60). Eventually prompted by Heathcliff’s return, he states that he cannot live this life alone and begged her to remain alive, (W 120). Heathcliff also shows his love for Cathy by always worrying about her and in the end, coming back to her while she is on her deathbed, (W 120). This scene is important because throughout the novel, Cathy expresses emotion whether it being with teaching Hareton how to read or her emotions dealing with Edgar and Heathcliff. Overall, these scenes portray romanticism by expressing the characters ways of experiencing and viewing the world through emotional intensity and displaying events.

In conclusion, romanticism and emotions in both novels, A Christmas Carol and Wuthering Heights express how individual’s inner-self can emerge to be “the whole person.” In these novels, Charles Dickens and Emily Bronte display acts of these individuals to show love and connection, as well as how people can benefit and change from their actions. While snippets of love stories are shown in these novels, more importantly they illustrate a vision of life as a method of modification which results in the romantic intensity and wholeness of its characters.

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