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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: May 2019

Chapter 9 - ‘A Strange Change Approaching’

Summary

With a focus on Emily Brontë’s novel in the context of her poetry, Simon Marsden examines ontological identification, reconciliation and notions of community. Marsden suggests that the paradigm of romance is often silently privileged in readings of Wuthering Heights, and that this has significantly shaped critical analysis of the novel’s engagement with religion – resulting in neglect of Christian theology’s concern with the ontological status of the human person and the nature of human flourishing. Marsden’s chapter, with reference to recent theological accounts of human ontology and semiotics (Catherine Pickstock and John Milbank), examines both the refusal of the stranger and patterns of repetition and difference as ways into understanding representations of social fragmentation and the redemptive returns of the second generation. For Marsden, the novel brings into view discourses of agapeic love (distinct from erotic love or simple affection), and forgiveness and the refusal of vengeance. Further exploring Brontë’s critique of the hypocritical violation of Christian ethics and the refusal of mercy for others in ‘Why ask to know the date – the clime?’ and ‘Shed no tears o’er that tomb’, Marsden also considers how Brontë’s essay ‘Filial Love’ illuminates her interest in the parent/child bond and the animal/human divide.