Date of Award

8-1-2013

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

English

First Advisor

Collins, K.

Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the potential influence of Plato's Symposium on Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, by analyzing similarities between the two texts. Such comparisons, I argue, enhance our reading and understanding of Brontë's novel as a specifically philosophical discourse on metaphysical concepts. By examining the infrastructure of Wuthering Heights, I propose that its specific complexity adheres to models of philosophical inquiry as presented in the Symposium. After my introduction, Chapter 2 investigates the resonances of Aristophanes' speech in Plato's work that are manifest in Brontë's conceptualizations of love: Platonic love, the divided self, and unity of being. Chapter 3 details structural similarities between the two texts, the most important being narrative progression and complexity, are closely examined. Chapter 4 explores similarities between Plato's and Brontë's representations of punishment and discipline, including instances of physical, bodily punishment and examples of punishment aimed at individual reform. In approaching Brontë's novel in terms of, and as, philosophical discourse, this thesis highlights the fair amount of homogeneity between it and the Symposium, and illustrates the validity of an approach to Wuthering Heights which seeks both to clarify and to respect its complexity by searching out its constituent ideas.

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