‘Wuthering Heights’ and the Othering of the Rural

PhD Thesis

Broome, Sean 2015. ‘Wuthering Heights’ and the Othering of the Rural. PhD Thesis https://doi.org/10.48773/92916
AuthorsBroome, Sean
TypePhD Thesis

This thesis explores the notion of rurality as a form of constructed identity. Just as feminist and postcolonial studies identify the formation of hierarchies within gender and ethnicity, I argue that the rural is constructed as inferior in opposition to its binary counterpart, the urban. The effect of this is the othering of the rural. This thesis takes Emily Brontë’s novel Wuthering Heights as a case study, using a critical approach to explore the ways in which it presents rurality, and to consider its role in the creation and reproduction of rural identity. The case study suggests that the adoption of a ‘rural reading’, in which an awareness of rural othering is fostered, can be a useful and productive strategy in textual analysis and interpretation. The first three chapters of this thesis focus on rural construction generally. Chapter 1 draws on semiotic theory to examine the creation of binaries, and Derridean notions of linguistic hierarchies to suggest reasons for the inferior position of the rural. Chapter 2 considers the historical location of the urban/rural binary in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, within the context of the Enlightenment, the growth of capitalism, industrialisation and rapid urban expansion. Chapter 3 explores rural othering as a feature of contemporary culture, examining the textual presence of idyllic and anti-idyllic versions of the rural. Chapter 4 introduces the methodology of the case study, explaining the relevance of Wuthering Heights to the study of rural othering, providing a précis of the novel and an overview of previous critical responses. Chapters 5, 6 and 7 explore the three themes of nature, deviance and space. These are derived from the examination of rural construction in Chapter 3. In Chapter 5, the representation of nature in Wuthering Heights is explored, and the presence of animals within the novel in particular. In Chapter 6, the depiction of deviance in Wuthering Heights is discussed, with special focus given to the presence of deviant speech patterns, reflecting changing expectations of behavioural norms in the early nineteenth century. Chapter 7’s consideration of the relationship between space and rurality within Brontë’s novel considers her representation of landscape. Chapter 8 argues that a similar rural reading can be applied to other texts, literary and otherwise, opening up a fresh set of perspectives and possibilities for interpretation.

KeywordsWuthering Heights, urban, rural, urban/rural Emily Brontë, Brontë, othering, rural identity
PublisherUniversity of Derby
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.48773/92916
Web address (URL)hdl:10545/584017
File Access Level
File Access Level
Output statusUnpublished
Publication process dates
Deposited17 Dec 2015, 11:01
Publication dates2015
ContributorsUniversity of Derby
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