The Yorkshire Moors in the Romantic Tradition: Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and J. M. W. Turner’s Frosty Morning

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Kathleen Verduin, Hope College

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Barren, mysterious, destructive, powerful and threatening. Those are some of the ways in which the natural world was viewed during the Romantic period, an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement of the late-18th and early 19th centuries. But what does it mean for something to be “Romantic,” and how did the various artistic mediums of the period—such as art and literature—interact with one another? In what ways were those depictions similar, and how were they different? Most interdisciplinary examinations of romantic painting and literature focus on poetry rather than novels. This study, however, compares the ways in which “nature” was portrayed according to the Romantic traditions of art and prose, focusing particularly on Wuthering Heights (1847), a novel by Emily Brontë, and Frosty Morning (1813), an oil painting by J. M. W. Turner. Both artists set their works in the lonely Yorkshire moors, choices that impacted the way their subject matter is perceived. This study delves into these settings, providing a model for the ways in which similar traditions can be examined across entirely separate cultural forms.

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