An Emily Bronte Chronology and discussion questions

1818 July 30, Emily Jane Bronte born at Thornton, near Bradford, Yorkshire.
1820 April, the Bronte family moves to Haworth.
1821 September, Mrs. Bronte dies.
1824 November, Emily Bronte enrolls at the Cowan Bridge School.
1825 May 6, Maria Bronte dies; June 1, Charlotte and Emily leave Cowan Bridge; June 15 Elizabeth Bronte dies.
1826 June, Mr. Bronte brings home twelve wooden soldiers for Branwell--the start of the Btontes' oral literature and imaginative games.
1831 Emily and Anne begin the Gondal saga.
1834 November 24, the earliest dated Emily Bronte manuscript--mentions the Gondals discovering Caaldine.
1835 July--Octobet, a pupil in Miss Wooler's school at Roe Head; is sent home after alarming Charlotte with her physical decline.
1836 July 12, the earliest dated poem.
1837 September, goes to teach at Law Hill School, near Halifax; remains there for about six months--the exact dates of the Law Hill period are disputed.
Over half of Bronte's surviving poems written.
1842 February--November, at school in Brussels with Charlotte to study music and foreign languages; writes the essays in French; returns to Haworth after the death of Aunt
1843 Alone at Haworth with her father; a time of creativity and freedom.
1844 Begins to arrange her poems into two notebooks, dividing the Gondalan from the non-Gondalan material.
1845 The Brontes give up hopes for a school of their own; Branwell, working on a novel, tells his sisters of the profitable possibilities of novel writing; Emily's birthday note
shows her hearty and content, reunited with Anne and as enthusiastic as ever about the Gondalans; October, Charlotte discovers Emily's poems and convinces her sister
to collaborate on a volume of poems; December, Wuthering Heights begun.
1846 May, Poems by Currer Ellis, and Acton Bell published, with the Brontes paying for costs; July, Wuthering Heights finished and begins to make the round of publishers,
along with Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte and The Profrssor by Charlotte; September 14, last dated complete poem.
1847 July, T. C. Newby accepts Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey but delays publishing until the success of Jane Eyre arouses interest in the "Bells"; December,
Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey published.
1848 Confusion in the literary world over the identity and number of the Bells; Anne publishes The Tenant of Wildftll Hall; Emily withdraws more resolutely into herself;
September 24, Branwell dies; October 1, Emily leaves home for the last time to attend Branwell's funeral service--catches a severe cold which develops into inflammation
of the lungs; December 19, Emily Bronte dies.
1850 Wuthering Heights reissued, with a selection of poems, and a biographical notice by Charlotte.
1893 The Bronte Society established.
1941 Hatfield's edition of The Complete Poems of Emily Jane Bronte published.

(This extract is taken from Richard Benvenuto, Emily Bronte [Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1982])

Problem questions and possible paper topics:
These questions etc have been borrowed from Hugh Chandler's Home Page.

(1) Do Heathcliff and Catherine (CatherineI) love each other?

(2) Is the relationship between Heathcliff and Catherine something splendid, something we should envy them for having experienced?

(3) In what way, if any, does Heathcliff fail, or go astray, in his love (or whatever) for Catherine?

(4) In what way, if any, does Catherine fail, go astray, in her love (or whatever) for Heathcliff?

(5) In what way, if any, does Edgar fail, go astray, in his love (or whatever) for Catherine?

(6) Do Edgar and Heathcliff and Catherine, all three together, somehow manage to destroy Catherine?

(7) Is CatherineII a better woman, all things considered, than CatherineI? Morally better? More 'mature' in some important sense?

(8) Is Hareton a better man (or well on the way to being a better man) than Heathcliff? If you think he is, spell it out a bit. In what way is he better?

(9) It looks as though Hareton and CatherineII are going to be a lot happier (individually and as a couple) than Heathcliff and Catherine. Is the book saying, so to speak, that
maturity and/or goodness tend to lead to happiness? And, if so, does the book recommend happiness, or does it hint that passion, wildness, etc. are preferable?

(10) The standard view seems to be that Catherine and Heathcliff are soul-mates, period. But is this the whole story? I have the impression that Ellen thinks Catherine is as indissolubly bound to Edgar as to Heathcliff. (Note the odd bit about Ellen twisting together a lock of hair from each of them and putting the result in the locket Catherine is to wear in the grave. Also, of course there is the fact that Catherine is buried between them.) Is this sort of right? Does she really 'belong' somehow, BETWEEN the other two? Is Heathcliff WRONG in demanding, so to speak, that HE ALONE shall be united with Catherine in death - NO EDGAR?

And, if so, what would this mean? (If you see what I mean.)

(11) Ellen seems to think that Heathcliff, Catherine, and Edgar are all 'selfish.' But clearly Heathcliff and CatherineI are not looking out for themselves (or each other). Is
selfishness compatible with disregard for one's own well-being?

(12) Is Ellen substantially right about everything?

(13) Does the book, as a whole, suggest that being a self-disciplined, reasonable, loving, unselfish, person is better than being wild, wayward, passionate, etc. like CatherineI? Is
this supposed to be an open and shut case, or what? Do you find CatherineI more interesting than CatherineII? (Is it better to be interesting and not so good than to be good and
not so interesting?)

(14) The book seems to suggest that feeble, 'soft,' people - Linton is the prime example, but Isabella, Edgar, and even Hindley, are others - can be just as selfish as the strong-willed types. Does this make sense? How does it work?

(15) Heathcliff's psychological/spiritual state as he approaches death deserves exploration. Is it presented as a good state to be in? Is it a possible conclusion to a paradigmatic
case of pure 'romantic' love?

(16) Is the book a subtle attack on romanticism? Sort of ambivalent about this? (What ALTERNATIVE(S) to romanticism is (are) offered?)

Last changed Jan. 22, 1998.