Spectrality and Temporality: A Study of Beloved as a Paradigm of Rhetorical Narrative in Relation to Wuthering Heights

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Afrasiabi, Leila
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University of Guelph

This thesis investigates the intersections of textual dynamics with reader response in Wuthering Heights and Beloved. Beloved, a recent novel by Toni Morrison, has been read as a political text interrogating racial inequality since its time of publication. Comparatively, Wuthering Heights, a canonical nineteenth-century novel by Emily Brontë, has been seriously neglected as an attempt to pioneer women rights. This thesis tries to unveil how the use of particular textual and rhetorical techniques in both novels address certain audiences. In particular, the enframed ghost story is used as a compelling device to bring in readerly attention in both texts. Also, because both novels present a non-linear temporal progression, they can be deemed fine examples of narrative temporality in relation to reader responses to the texts. Although Wuthering Heights and Beloved are obviously published in two distinct sociopolitical contexts, it is worthwhile to examine their textual dynamics in relation to their authors’ marginalized status within each individual society because both texts use comparable structural elements. The present study considers the temporal framing technique of the two narratives as a textual device to alter readers’ responses to both texts. While temporality is considered a major thematic instrument, the presence of a ghost character is also increasingly defining. The use of a ghost story together with the framing narrative technique, which results in a sort of concurrent temporality, serves as a conflated textual device in both narratives. These conflated categories intertwine, leading to a reconfiguration of the concepts of self and other on the part of readers. In this manner, these two writers succeed in bringing their readers to their own side of the struggle for recognition, equality and identity.

Beloved, Wuthering Heights, Temporality, Spectrality