Wuthering Heights Essay, Research Paper
In the novel Wuthering Heights, a story about love turned obsession, Emily Bronte
manipulates the desolate setting and dynamic characters to examine the self-destructive
pain of compulsion. Emily Bronte?s Wuthering Heights is a novel about lives that cross
paths and are intertwined with one another. Healthcliff, a orphan, is taken in by Mr.
Earnshaw, the owner of Wuthering Heights. Mr. Earnshaw has two children named
Catherine and Hindley. Jealousy between Hindley and Healthcliff was always a problem.
Catherine loves Healthcliff, but Hindley hates the stranger for stealing his fathers
affection away. Catherine meets Edgar Linton, a young gentleman who lives at
Thrushcross Grange. Despite being in love with Healthcliff she marries Edgar elevating
her social standing. The characters in this novel are commingled in their relationships
with Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange.
The series of events in Emily Bronte?s early life psychologically set the tone for
her fictional novel Wuthering Heights. Early in her life while living in Haworth, near the
moors, her mother died. At the time she was only three. At the age of nineteen, Emily
moved to Halifax to attend Law Hill School. There is confusion as of how long she
stayed here, suggestions ranging from a minimum of three months to a maximum of
eighteen months. However long, it was here where she discovered many of the ideas and
themes used in Wuthering Heights. Halifax, just like the Yorkshire moors of York, can
be described as bleak, baron, and bare. The moors are vast, rough grassland areas
covered in small shrubbery. The atmosphere that Emily Bronte encompassed herself in
as a young adult, reflects the setting she chose for Wuthering Heights.
The setting used throughout the novel Wuthering Heights, helps to set the mood
to describe the characters. We find two households separated by the cold, muddy, and
barren moors, one by the name of Wuthering Heights, and the other Thrushcross Grange.
Each house stands alone, in the mist of the dreary land, and the atmosphere creates a
mood of isolation. In Emily Bronte?s novel Wuthering Heights, there are two places
where virtually all of the action takes place. These two places, Wuthering Heights and
Thrushcross Grange differ greatly in appearance and mood. These differences reflect the
universal conflict between storm and calm that Emily Bronte develops as the theme in
her novel Wuthering Heights.
Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange both represent several opposing
properties which bring about all sorts of bad happenings when they clash. For example,
the inhabitants of Wuthering Heights were that of the working class, while those of
Thrushcross Grange were high up on the social ladder. The people of Wuthering Heights
aspired to be on the same level as the Lintons. This is evident by Heathcliff and
Catherine when the peek through their window. In addition, Wuthering Heights was
always in a state of storminess while Thrushcross Grange always seemed calm.
Wuthering Heights, and its surroundings, depicts the cold, dark, and evil side of
life. Bronte chooses well, the language that she uses in Wuthering Heights. Even the
title of her book holds meaning. ?The very definition of the word wuthering may be
viewed as a premonitory indication of the mysterious happenings to be experienced by
those inhabiting the edifice.?1 ?Wuthering Heights, built in 1500, suffers from a kind of
malnutrition: its thorns have become barren, its firs stunted, everything seems to crave for
the ?alms of the sun? that sustain life.?2 This tenebrous home is decorated with
crumbling griffins over the front of the main door.3 Its lack of congeniality and ?warmth
is augmented by stone floors.? 4 The windows are set deep in the wall, and the corners
defended with large jutting stones. Although Wuthering Heights, the land of the storm,
sits high on the barren moorland, ?The world of Wuthering Heights is a world of sadism,
violence, and wanton cruelty.?5
It is the tenants of the Wuthering Heights that bring the storm to the house. The
Earnshaw family, including Heathcliff, grew up inflicting pain on one another. Pinching,
slapping and hair pulling occur constantly. Catherine, instead of shaking her gently,
wakes Nelly Dean, the servant of the house, up by pulling her hair. The Earnshaw
children grow up in a world ?where human beings, like the trees, grow gnarled and
dwarfed and distorted by the inclement climate.?6
Wuthering Heights is parallel to the life of Heathcliff. Both Heathcliff and
Wuthering Heights began as lovely and warm, and as time wore on both withered away
to become less of what they once were. Heathcliff is the very spirit of Wuthering
Heights. Healthcliff is a symbol of Wuthering Heights, the cold, dark, and dismal
dwelling. ?The authors use of parallel personifications to depict specific parts of the
house as analogous to Heathcliff?s face reveal stunning insights into his character.?7
Emily Bronte describes Wuthering Heights having ?narrow windows deeply set in the
wall, and the corners defended with large jutting stones.?8 This description using the
characteristics of Wuthering Heights is adjacent to Heathcliff when he is illustrated
having, ?black eyes withdrawn so suspiciously under their brow.?9 Heathcliff lived in a
primal identification with nature, from the rocks, stones, trees, the heavy skies and
eclipsed sun, which environs him. There is no true separation from the setting of nature
for Heathcliff and the lives with which his life is bound.
Thrushcross Grange, in contrast to the bleak exposed farmhouse on the heights, is
situated in the valley with none of the grim features of Heathcliff?s home. Opposite of
Wuthering Heights, Thrushcross Grange is filled with light and warmth. ?Unlike
Wuthering Heights, it is elegant and comfortable-?a splendid place carpeted with
crimson, and crimson covered chairs and tables, and a pure white ceiling bordered by
gold?.?10 Thrushcross Grange is the appropriate home of the children of the calm.
The atmosphere of Thrushcross Grange illustrates the link the inhabitants have
with the upper-class Victorian lifestyle. Although the Linton?s appearance was often
shallow, appearances were kept up for their friends and their social standing. While
Wuthering Heights was always full of activity, sometimes to the point of chaos, life at the
Grange always seemed placid. Linton?s existence here at Thrushcross Grange was as
?different from Heathcliff?s ?as moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire?.?11The
Linton?s often portrayed themselves as shallow, arrogant people, but life here was much
more jovial than the inmates of Wuthering Heights lives were.
Catherine Earnshaw, also a child of the storm, ties these two worlds of storm and
calm together. Despite the fact that she occupies a position midway between the two
worlds, Catherine is a product of the moors. She belongs in a sense to both worlds and is
constantly drawn first in Heathcliff?s direction, then in Linton?s.
Catherine does not ?like? Heathcliff, but she loves him with all
the strength of her being. For he, like her, is a child of the
storm; and this makes a bond between them, which
interweaves itself with the very nature of their existence. In a
sublime passage she tells Nelly Dean that she loves him-
?not because he?s handsome, Nelly, but because he?s more
myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and
mine are the same, and Linton?s is as different as a moonbeam
from lightning, or frost from fire. . . . My great miseries in this
world have been Heathcliff?s miseries, and I watched and felt
each from the beginning: my great thought in living is himself.
If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to
be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the
universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a
part of it. My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods:
time will change it, I?m well aware as winter changes the trees.
My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a
source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am
Heathcliff! He?s always, always in my mind; not as a pleasure,
any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own
Despite the fact she loves only Heathcliff, she marries Edgar Linton. Catherine
realizes that even though her love or lack of love for Edgar is questionable, she feels that
someday she will learn how to love him. ?Catherine sees that, whatever his faults,
Heathcliff transcends the Lintons? world.?13 ?Catherine?s account of Heathcliff may
appear on the surface to be scarcely more favorable than Linton?s; but it is certain that
she understands him in a way that Linton never could.?14 The bond between Heathcliff
and Catherine was formed long ago during their childhood at Wuthering Heights.
The setting throughout the novel often corresponded with the characters
emotions. It is best symbolized ?in a passage about nature?s obviousness to Heathcliff?s
grief over Cathy?s death. A symbol for tears lurks in the image of ?the dew that had
gathered on the budded branches, and fell pattering round him?.?15 Even though
Heathcliff was a hardened person, Catherine?s death truly devastated him. Heathcliff?s
emotions also corresponded with nature when he disappears into a raging storm after
hearing Catherine say that it would degrade her to marry Heathcliff. Emily Bronte gives
a brief description of Catherine?s actions after it is brought to her attention that Heathcliff
heard what she said. Catherine, going out to the road in search of him, ?where heedless
of my expostulations, and the growling thunder, and the great drops that began to plash
round her, she remained calling, at intervals, and then listening, and then crying
outright.?16 This description symbolizes the relationship and the internal bond that the
characters of Wuthering Heights had with nature.
It is Bronte?s remarkable imagination, emotional power, figures of speech, and
handling of dialect that makes the characters of Wuthering Heights relate so closely with
their surroundings. Emily Bronte?s style of writing is capable of drawing you into the
novel because of her ability to make inanimate objects become the characters of the
The contrast of these two houses adds much to the meaning of this novel, and
without it, the story wouldn?t be the interesting, complex novel it is without the contrast
between Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. The contrast between them is
more than physical, rather these two houses represent opposing forces which are
embodied in their inhabitants. Having this contrast is what brings about the presentation
of this story altogether.
Bronte made Heathcliff and Wuthering Height as one. Both of these being cold,
dark, and menacing similar to a storm. Thrushcross Grange and the Lintons were more a
welcoming and peaceful dwelling. The personality of both is warm and draws itself to
you by the warmth of the decor and richness of the surrounding landscape.