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Three of the greatest English novels of the 19th century: Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, George Eliot’s The Mill on The Floss, and Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations focus on protagonists who are outcasts and orphans — and all three explore essential questions of what it means to be human.
How — and where — does an outsider find a home? What are the enduring familial, social, moral, and political powers that turn them into the “other” in the first place?
Heathcliff: an orphan and an outcast who attains wealth and power but loses love and his soul in Wuthering Heights. Pip: the orphan in Great Expectations whose mysterious benefactor sets him on a path to success and riches — and loneliness. Maggie Tulliver: an outcast, divided between duty and love, whose growth to womanhood in The Mill on The Floss makes her one of the most vibrant heroines of English literature. These classics of thwarted, ruinous romance are masterpieces of psychological truth, social criticism, and the novelist’s art and bring us indelible characters whose sexual desires are both at odds with convention and at the heart of their search for individual fulfillment. Join us as we read and discuss how these novels, and that search, reflect the unconventional lives of Bronte, Eliot and Dickens, as well as the mores — and hypocrisies — of the Victorian era.
(Note: There are many editions of all three novels available and they are also in the public domain, therefore available free on the web. The preferred editions for this class are those published by Penguin Classics, which have excellent notes however don’t read the introductions unless you have read the novels already — they give too much of the stories away).
Online programs:An access link will be emailed to you after purchase
In-person programs:Adults and children ages 12+ must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to attend our in-person programs.
Masks must be worn at all times by everyone over the age of 2.
Bill Goldstein reviews books for NBC’s Weekend Today in New York and was founding editor of The New York Times books website …
Bill Goldstein reviews books for NBC’s Weekend Today in New York and was founding editor of The New York Times books website. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Goldstein received a PhD in English from City University of New York Graduate Center. He is writing a biography of Larry Kramer, to be published by Crown. His book, The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster, and the Year that Changed Literature, was published in 2017.