Explore the presentation of outsiders and outcasts in the novels. Use ‘’Orange are not the Only Fruit’’ to illuminate your understanding of the core text. “Wuthering Heights” is a Gothic novel written by Emily Bronte in 1847. The novel revolves around the story of a dark protagonist and outsider Heathcliff. As an outsider his presence is shown to have negative consequences resulting in the demise of various members of the Earnshaw Household, including that of his star crossed love, Catherine Earnshaw.
The theme of outsiders and outcasts is seen to pervade the story, highlighting the prejudice and contempt that would have been shown towards members of a lower social class in essence making them social pariahs, as well as showing the deep rooted suspicion and contempt that were shown towards outsiders. The novel has a frame narrative which includes various narrators. The incorporation of so many narrative voices especially those of outsiders like Nelly and Lockwood shows how Bronte has given the outsider a voice in a society that would have them stifled.
Similarly, “Oranges are not the only fruit” is a first-person narrative that gives the outsider Jeanette a voice, expressing the prejudice and discrimination she receives as an outsider because of her evangelical background. The text also explores the extent to which she was made an outcast, often accused of being “immoral” and “full of demons” because of her sexual orientation. The isolated setting in which Emily Bronte situates her novel is important for her combination of realism and Gothic symbolism as well as the theme of outsiders and outcasts.
Wuthering Heights is situated beyond the bounds of society in what the effete narrator Lockwood describes as a perfect “Misanthropist’s heaven”, The noun “Misanthropist” describes the location of Wuthering Heights as a place of seclusion existing beyond the bounds of society, and this means that the outsider, whoever it may be would naturally be regarded as a suspicious and threatening entity.
The limited geographical world of the novel links with how Bronte herself did not enjoy the experience of travelling from home, and her limited experience of travel and her lack of desire to do so are then reflected in the way the outside world and its representatives are viewed with suspicion. The reader is first introduced to the hostile world of “Wuthering Heights” and the themes of outsider and outcasts through the treatment of the fallible narrator, Lockwood.
From the very first, Bronte is seen to make explicit the deep suspicion that awaits strangers in Wuthering Heights, he is greeted with “Black” eyes that “withd[rew] suspiciously” and fingers that “sheltered themselves. ” This reception contrasts starkly to his optimistic presumption of his host being a “capital fellow”. Ironically, Lockwood misjudges the situation assuming himself to be a “suitable pair” with Heathcliff which, at face value shows him to be a poor judge of character.
The two are in fact diametrical opposites — Heathcliff surly and vindictive; Lockwood a paragon of civility. Whereas we do not know Lockwood’s first name, Heathcliff is without a last, a technique likely employed to emphasise their differences. However this can also be seen as sardonic humour in the way both characters do however share parallels in their mistreatment as a result of their outsider status. Lockwood as an outsider to the environment of Wuthering Heights is portrayed as a bumbling intruder.
As a narrator he is revealed to be extremely fallible, making countless mistakes most laughably calling young Catherine Heathcliff’s’ “amiable lady”. A feature undoubtedly employed by Bronte to stress how he is a stranger to the north and the ways of the Yorkshire moors, and this grievous mistake on his behalf leads the reader to then treat his later actions with a degree of suspicion. In his arrival, Gothic elements are employed by Bronte to further emphasise the inhospitality of his welcome.
His description of the “stunted firs”, “gaunt thorns” and the “wilderness of crumbling griffins” in the first chapter create this unwelcoming environment, as well as Chapter 3 where he is led to a mysterious chamber which should have protected him from the “vigilance” of Heathcliff by a fellow outsider, Zillah but in instead subjects him to a terrifying encounter with Cathy’s ghost. The recurring theme of outsiders being treated with suspicion is also echoed in Chapter Four with the arrival of Heathcliff as a young boy.
Although he is likened to a “lamb” and “child of God”, much like Jeanette in “Oranges” the other children still “would not play with him”, choosing instead to subject the “dark boy” to an array of insults including “Gypsy Brat” and “darkly ragged black haired child”. He is even likened to something that “came from the devil” which echoes Blake’s “dark satanic mills” of the 19th century, a reference to the poor working conditions which led to rising tensions and conflicts between the upper and lower classes.
This inhospitable welcome is paralleled in “Oranges” where because of her Evangelical background Jeanette is made an outcast by the children in her school who subject her to physical abuse “hitting” her and “screaming with laughter”, the verb “screaming” emphasising the brute savagery of their abuse. The degree to which Heathcliff is discriminated against as an outsider is further shown in how Nelly Dean refers to the infant with the dehumanising pronoun “it” to emphasise how much Heathcliff is unwanted in the house (just like Jeanette is unwanted at the school).
He is then later reduced to the status of a servant and “degrade[d]” as a social outcast when Mr Earnshaw dies and Wuthering Heights is passed on to Hindley. Hindley “drove him” from their company to the servants and insists that he should “labour out of doors instead”, thus emphasising how Heathcliff does not belong in the civilised environment of Wuthering Heights. A Marxist critic would understand Heathcliff’s’ lack of defined place within the social and economic structure of Wuthering Heights makes him Cathy’s natural companion.
She, as the daughter “who does not expect to inherit”, is the least economically integral person in the family thus creating parallels between the two characters as outsiders. Friendship with Heathcliff offers Cathy the relative freedom of being “outside” the social structure of her family much as lesbianism in “Oranges” allows Jeanette to step outside the stringent religious confines of her household, though consequently making her a sinner and outcast having “fallen foul of [her] lust”.