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Great British Literature - Part 6: Wuthering Yorkshire

Put these sentences in the order you hear from the video.

  1. As teenagers, the girls attended another school, the Roe Head School

  2. Branwell Brontë died

  3. Maria's sister, Elizabeth Branwell, moved in with the Brontes to help care for the six young children.

  4. Anne Bronte died

  5. For the next six years the four remaining Brontë children were educated at home.

  6. Charlotte Bronte died

  7. The girls went to work as quickly as possible

  8. They were three of six children born to Patrick Brontë, an Irish clergyman, and his wife  Maria.

  9. Charlotte and Emily travelled to Brussels to study

  10. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne used the money to publish a book of poems

  11. Each one wrote a novel which was published

  12. Emily Brontë died

  13. Charlotte and Emily were immediately pulled from the school and returned home to Haworth

Fill the missing gaps with one, two or three words:

Charlotte, Emily and Anne were three of ____________ children. Their mother died in ________________ .  In 1824 the four oldest girls were sent to school. Conditions were terrible and two of the sisters ____________________  tuberculosis. Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell wrote stories ____________ magazines and ____________.

The girls had to work as quickly as possible because they were ____________.  They published a book of poems ini 1846 under ________________. Later, in 1847, each wrote a novel. They were ___________________ and sold a lot of copies.

The Tenant of Wildfell had sold even better than Anne's _____________________ had. Branwell died in _____________1848. He had never been successful. He tried a lot of occupations including those of writer, teacher and ______________ . Emily died _____________ later. Anne died the ______________.  Despite her fame and success, Charlotte felt _________________ and she died of _____________  from pregnancy.

Although their lives were short, their contributions to literature are still considered some of ________________________ in the English Language.

Comparing Charlotte and Emily’s novels.

Main Themes: match each topic to its correspondent novel


Someone is obsessed with revenge and holds grudges against his foster brother, his romantic rival - and even his lover, for dying


The heroine is plain, but full of intellectual, moral, and physical passion. Another woman also represents passion, intensified by the imprisonment that leaves her unable to express it


Scolars still debate whether the two lovers in this novel really love, or are merely obsessed with each other. Unhealthy doses of both permeate their relationship


The main character’s actions and choices were controversial to many readers, who saw her rebelliousness and romantic choices as ignoring barriers of gender and class


Most characters in this novel are outsiders looking for belonging, whether it be in a family relationship, or in society


The main character here sees different examples of piety, and draws on her own moral code to avoid temptation and make choices she feels are right



Wuthering Heights tells the story of Heathcliff and Cathy, who are raised in the same household on the wild moors of England. The pair become passionate soul mates whose love soon grows into a dangerous obsession that cannot be contained, even in death. What do you think these following elements symbolize?


The passionate emotions of the characters

Memory and obsession

The passion and danger of Heathcliff and Cathy’s childhood love

The intertwined lives of the characters

Jane’s journey

Though often labeled a romance, Jane Eyre is also a coming-of-age story, a “bildungsroman”, memorable for its reveal of a woman’s inner life. We follow Jane as she matures from a young orphan to a teacher and then a governess. Do you know the steps of her inner journey?

1 - Orphaned and tormented by her aunt and cousins, Jane finds solace in reading

2 - Through cruelty and sickness, Jane blossoms intellectually with friends and teachers

3 - Arriving as a governess, Jane is drawn to her master, Mr. Rochester. She agrees to marry him, but on their wedding day it is revealed that his first wife, Bertha, is still alive and mad.

4 - Jane flees from Rochester, who wants her to remain as his mistress.

5 - She is taken in by St. John Rivers and his sister, but finds she cannot marry the cold, ascetic St. John

6 - Jane returns to Rochester to find him blinded from a fire set by Bertha, and they marry.

Hauntings, Madness and Monsters: Understanding the Gothic Tradition

Since the late twentieth century, the Gothic genre has become almost interchangeable with that of horror. While these genres are separate, they share plenty of markers that allow them to overlap. The Gothic is really about atmosphere, fear, a sense of dread. At the heart of the Gothic genre lies the idea of secrets, mysteries and other worldliness. It is the rejection of the rational thinking the Enlightenment movement perpetuated. In short, it is quite difficult to pinpoint what exactly makes something Gothic; there is, simply put, a haunting feeling about it.

In literature, Gothic Revivalist architecture translated into the haunted castle. The first British Gothic novel – The Castle of Otranto, written by Horace Walpole – was published in 1746. The author is said to have suffered a nightmare at his Gothic Revival villa, Strawberry Hill House, a quintessentially Gothic construction that was heavily influenced by medieval architecture and thus inspired the plot of The Castle of Otranto.

Walpole’s novel is set in the titular castle and creates an atmosphere of foreboding and terror by combining supernatural elements with the realistic, emotional responses of the characters. The aesthetic of the novel has served to influence everything Gothic that has come after it.

One of the most famous examples in the Gothic canon would be the castle in Bram Stoker’s masterpiece, Dracula, published in 1897. Situated in deepest, darkest Transylvania, upon the remote Carpathian Mountains, the count’s castle acts as a prison to the witless Jonathan Harker, as well as housing nightmarish monstrosities such as the seductive three virgins. Dracula’s Castle has become synonymous with malevolence and terror.

The Female Gothic

Charlotte Brontë encapsulated a Victorian fascination with madness in the tortured, tragic figure of Bertha Mason, Rochester’s first wife in her novel Jane Eyre. Rochester tells young Jane that Bertha is mad and thus needs to be kept locked up in the attic of Thornfield. Asylums and the treatment of mental health were thorny subjects of the time – the cures for ‘hysteria’, typically diagnosed in young women, were tantamount to legalised torture.

Madness and the lack of rational thought was explored through nineteenth-century Gothic, from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. In both novels, as we have already seen, society creates the ‘monster’ through oppression and denial; the reputable Dr Jekyll creates his own psychotic alter-ego to indulge in desires his society would otherwise condemn, while the immoral scientist Dr Frankenstein plays God and loses control when he creates the monster that will destroy his life in revenge for its neglect.

The female protagonists are often victims of misogyny and abuse, and must endure terrible suffering before breaking out of oppressive patriarchal systems. In their novels, the Gothic is married to the Bildungsroman, a type of novel that charts the protagonist’s coming-of-age, so that the horrors become crucial to a character’s emotional development.

There are various elements to the Gothic genre, but read just one of the seminal Gothic novels and you will likely find:

  • An unsettling atmosphere and a sense of foreboding

  • A gloomy, isolated location

  • A historical family secret that threatens the protagonist’s present (e.g. a’curse’)

  • Hints of the supernatural or otherworldliness (this could be an actual monster, like the vampire in Dracula, or an indefinable threat)

  • The all-important haunted castle or some other imperious yet decaying structure

  • Death, murder, torture, suicide

  • Madness and the loss of self

  • A villainous antagonist

Ten Seminal Gothic Novels:

  • The Castle of Otranto by Horice Walpole (1764)

  • The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe (1794)

  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)

  • The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe (1840)

  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1847)

  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (1847)

  • The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)

  • Dracula by Bram Stoker (1898)

  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (1938)

  • The Woman in Black by Susan Hill (1983)

When people talk about horror stories they often think about the most famous vampire novel of all time – Dracula. Many people don’t know that this spooky tale about a blood-sucking monster, which is set in Transylvania, was actually penned by a Dublin man – Bram Stoker.

Bram, or Abraham, was born on 8th November, 1847 in Clontarf on Dublin’s Northside. He was always interested in philosophy, history, art and drama and began his career as a theatre critic with the Dublin Evening Mail.

In 1878, Bram married Florence Balcombe. Florence was very beautiful and had been a girlfriend of another famous writer, Oscar Wilde. Bram and Wilde would later become good friends. Bram and Florence had one son, Irving Noel Thornley Stoker.

He visited the USA on many occasions and was even invited to the White House twice, where he met Theodore Roosevelt and William McKinley. Surprisingly, however, Bram never ventured to Eastern Europe even though his most famous work Dracula would be set there. Stoker died in London on 20th April, 1912.

Bram began writing Dracula in 1897. He was inspired by visits to Whitby in England, Slains Castle in Scotland and the tombs in St. Michan’s Church in Dublin. The original script was named The Undead but Bram later changed the title to what we know it by today. Count Dracula has taken many forms down the years. The extract below is taken from Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel:

Jonathan Harker's Diary

The nails were long and fine, and cut to a sharp point. As the Count leaned over me and his hands touched me, I could not repress a shudder. It may have been that his breath was rank, but a horrible feeling of nausea came over me, which, do what I would, I could not conceal. The Count, evidently noticing it, drew back. And with a grim sort of smile, which showed more than he had yet done his protuberant teeth, sat himself down again on his own side of the fireplace. We were both silent for a while, and as I looked towards the window I saw the first dim streak of the coming dawn. There seemed a strange stillness over everything. But as I listened, I heard as if from down below in the valley the howling of many wolves. The Count's eyes gleamed, and he said. "Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make!" Seeing, I suppose, some expression in my face strange to him, he added, "Ah, sir, you dwellers in the city cannot enter into the feelings of the hunter." Then he rose and said: "But you must be tired. Your bedroom is all ready, and tomorrow you shall sleep as late as you will. I have to be away till the afternoon, so sleep well and dream well!" With a courteous bow, he opened for me himself the door to the octagonal room, and I entered my bedroom. I am all in a sea of wonders. I doubt. I fear. I think strange things, which I dare not confess to my own.

Centuries-old Dracula preys on new blood in the streets of Victorian London, seeking to renew his power and extend the reach of his authority. Van Helsing and his allies must confront and defeat Dracula not only to save the women they love but also to protect England from his infectious lusts.

Watch the video, then  with the help of the Characters Map put the following facts into the right order.


Clues in Dracula suggest the novel's setting is 1893. Dracula's events unfold from May to November in different locations until the characters' experiences converge near London. Events overlap until this point in the novel as characters in different places record simultaneous events in their journals, letters, and telegrams. Other writings, such as newspaper cuttings, are also woven into the plot.

Over the coming days, Mina travels to Budapest to marry Harker and bring him home, while Seward and his mentor, Dutch Professor Abraham Van Helsing, treat Lucy, who is weak and pale. Van Helsing prescribes strange treatments—garlic flowers, for example—with no explanation and performs four blood transfusions. But he cannot save Lucy. After her death, Van Helsing insists Seward, Holmwood, and Morris must help him destroy Lucy's body. They are appalled, but he proves to them Lucy is an Un-Dead and is attacking children to drink their blood. They enter the tomb where she sleeps and destroy her body but release her soul.

The Harkers inherit a home and legal business in Exeter, meanwhile, but Mina worries about her husband's strength and health. In London for their benefactor's funeral, the Harkers see a thin man watching a pretty young woman in town. After Harker first breaks down and then can't recall the incident, Mina reads his journals to better understand his distress. She can't believe what he's written. Van Helsing contacts Mina for information about Lucy, and Mina reveals Harker's experiences as she comes to trust the professor. At Seward's asylum, Mina organizes everything they know about Dracula. Meanwhile the men work to find the boxes of earth and sterilize them with crumbs from a communion wafer, planning to corner Dracula and destroy him. But Renfield, Seward's patient and Dracula's follower, allows Dracula access to the asylum, where he attacks Mina, forcing her to drink his blood so she'll become a vampire and serve him. Attempting to protect Mina, Van Helsing touches the wafer to her forehead, where it burns her skin, marking her as polluted and evil. Van Helsing reveals at last information about Dracula's mortal history as a voivode, or war leader, and vampire lore he's largely withheld thus far, and the band of heroes vows to destroy Dracula.

Meanwhile, Harker's fiancé, Mina Murray, is enjoying a vacation in the seaside town of Whitby with her dear friend, Lucy Westenra. Pretty, sweet, and well-off, Lucy wins the love of three men—Dr. John Seward, who runs an asylum near London; Quincey Morris, a Texan; and Arthur Holmwood, heir to an aristocratic title. She chooses Holmwood. Morris accepts the choice manfully, but Seward sinks into depression. He turns to his work, hoping for distraction, and records his observations of Renfield, a patient who eats flies, spiders, and sparrows in hopes of gaining their life forces.

With only one box of earth left, Dracula retreats by ship to his castle. Van Helsing, Mina, and the young men join their abilities to track his route. They pursue him over land and by river as Mina fights to remain human. The hypnosis Van Helsing has been using on her to track Dracula is losing its effect. Van Helsing reaches the castle and destroys the vampire women, and the young men fight the workers who are carting the box of earth where Dracula hides. Harker and Morris kill Dracula, whose body crumbles into dust as the sun sets. The red mark fades from Mina's forehead, and soon after Quincey dies.

In May the young solicitor (lawyer) Jonathan Harker travels to Transylvania to assist a nobleman, who he calls Count Dracula, with a real estate purchase. Dracula is buying Carfax, a run-down estate near London. The villagers who live near Castle Dracula warn Harker not to travel to the castle; one gives him a crucifix, but he's puzzled over the gesture and due to this Anglican background considers the object idolatrous. Harker finds his host polite and attentive, if odd. Dracula has no servants, is unusually strong, and demands Harker work with him only at night. Gradually, Harker realizes Dracula is somehow inhuman. Dracula imprisons Harker, apparently intending to kill him; yet he protects him from three voluptuous, viciously fanged women. After Dracula leaves for London, sending 50 boxes of earth ahead of him, Harker manages to escape the castle and make it to a hospital in Budapest, where he collapses, suffering from "brain fever."

A strangely violent storm drives a ship ashore near Whitby; its crew is dead, and its captain's body is tied to the wheel, a crucifix between his hands. The only survivor is a vicious, large black dog that flees the ship. The captain's log tells a strange story: one at a time, the crew disappeared till only he and the first mate were left. The mate drowned himself, terrified, leaving the captain to bring the ship to harbor. Shortly afterward, Mina finds Lucy sleepwalking, an old habit, in Whitby's cemetery. She seems weak and has two small puncture wounds in her neck, from a safety pin, Mina assumes.


Seven years later, Seward and Holmwood have found wives, and the Harkers have a son, Quincey. Van Helsing holds the boy on his knee and says that someday the child will understand why several men dared so much for his mother.

Can we find any of the above mentioned themes also in the following novels? Why yes/no?

  • Wuthering Heights

  • Jane Eyre

  • The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll & Mister Hyde

  • The Portrait of Dorian Gray

Beatrix Potter

Listen to the story and put the sentences in order.

Now watch this video, then answer the questions below

What animal is not present in the scene ?

a pig - a hedgehog - a fox - a badger

What is this ? →→→→→→→→→→→→

an electric barrier  - an electric gate  -  an electric fence.

What is Thomas spreading on it?     

jam - marmelade - peanut butter

What for ?  So that the animals lick it and ____________ of electrocution

What is Mrs Tiggy-Winkle wearing ?

an apron - a scarf - a dress - a skirt

Mrs Tiggy-Winkle says « Yummy ». What does she mean ? disgusting - delicious - lucky me !

How old is Mrs Tiggy-Winkle ?

She says «I need some excitement before I check out» She means...

before « I am sure »  -  before « I die »

What happens when she gets electrified ?    

She loses all her spines She dies instantly -  She falls on the ground She faints

Why does she say " look away! » to the others ? She wants them to be careful -

She doesn't want them to see her naked bottom - She wants them to leave the place now

Watch again the scene and complete the script :

Why is he _______________  it with peanut butter?

He’s ________________ to bait us into____________ it.

What__________________ if we touch it ?

We're about to_________________ out

No, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, _________________ !

I'm four and a_______________ years old. I need some excitement before I check out. (…) Look away !

Guys, I have an _____________ ! ______________ what Dad used to say to us?

Never go to the McGregors’ _______________

Yeah, but what ____________ did he say to us?

Don't electrify a lady_______________

Download the PDF lesson on Wordsworth's poem here:

Composed Upon Westminster Bridge
Download PDF • 4.34MB

Scritta sul Ponte di Westminster

Il mondo non ha niente di più bello da mostrare:

Insensibile d’animo sarebbe colui che ignorasse

Uno spettacolo così commovente nella sua maestosità:

Questa città ora, come un indumento, indossa

La bellezza della mattina; silenziosa, nuda,

Navi, torri, cupole, teatri, e templi giacciono

Aperti ai campi, e al cielo;

Tutta brillante e scintillante nell’aria senza fumo.

Mai un sole più bello inondò

Nel suo primo splendore, valle, roccia, o collina;

Mai vidi io, mai sentii, una quiete così profonda!

Il fiume scorre dolcemente secondo la propria dolce volontà:

Mio Dio! persino le case sembrano addormentate;

E tutto quel possente cuore giace immobile.

Riccardo Zambon, 16 March 2024

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