Essay, Research Paper: Wuthering Heights

Literature: Wuthering Heights

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The setting and descriptions of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange that
Emily Brontë uses throughout her novel, Wuthering Heights, helps to set the
mood for describing Heathcliff and Cathy. The cold, muddy, and barren moors
separate the two households. Each house stands alone, in the midst of the dreary
land, but the atmospheres of the two estates are quite different. This
difference helps explain the personalities and bond of Cathy and Heathcliff.
Wuthering Heights, which represents Hell, is always in a state of storminess.
The Heights and its surroundings depict the coldness, darkness, and evil
associated with Hell. This parallels Heathcliff. He symbolizes the cold, dark,
and dismal house. The author uses parallel personifications to depict specific
parts of the house as analogues to Heathcliff’s face. Brontë describes the
windows of the Heights as deeply set in the wall. Similarly, Heathcliff has
deep-set dark eyes. Alongside with this association, Brontë’s title of her
book holds definite meaning. The very definition of “wuthering” is “to dry
up, shrivel, or wilt as from decay” (“Wuthering,” WordSmyth
Collaboration). The inhabitants, especially Heathcliff and Cathy, cause the
decay of themselves and bring “storminess” to the house. On the other hand,
the Grange; with all its richness; depicts wonderful Heaven. Thrushcross Grange,
in contrast to the bleak exposed farmhouse, stands in the valley and has none of
the grim features of the Earnshaw’s home. Light and warmth fills the Grange;
it is the appropriate home of the children of the calm. Wuthering Heights,
however, is always full of activity, sometimes to the point of chaos. Brave
Cathy, a child of the storm, tries to tie 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 torn between Heathcliff and Linton. Catherine does not “like”
Heathcliff, yet loves him with all of the strength of her being. For he, like
her, is a child of the storm; this makes a bond between them, and interweaves
itself with the very nature of their existence. In a sublime passage, she tells
Nelly that she loves Heathcliff: …not because he’s handsome Nelly, but
because he’s more myself then I am. Whatever or 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 being.” (Brontë 86, 87.)
Despite the fact that she loves only Heathcliff, she marries Edgar Linton to try
to place Heathcliff “out of [his] brother’s power” (Brontë 87). Cathy’s
“duty” toward Heathcliff forms in their bond when they grew up together.
Their bond ties them to each other, and to the shared love of nature; the rocks,
stones, trees, the heavy skies and eclipsed sun, which encompasses them. This
“binding” makes Heathcliff inseparable from Cathy. This is shown when he
runs off after hearing Cathy’s degrading comments about why she will not marry
him. Heathcliff symbolizes the raging storm he disappears into. Catherine, upon
hearing that Heathcliff heard her comments, goes out to the road in search of
him “where…the growling thunder, and the great drops that began to splash
around her, she remained calling, at intervals, and then listening, and then
crying outright” (Brontë 89). This symbolism proves that the relationship and
the internal bond that Cathy and Heathcliff have ties in closely with nature.
The contrast of these two houses adds much to the meaning of the novel, and
without it, the story would not be the interesting, complex novel that it is
without the contrast between the two estates. The contrast between them is more
than physical, rather these two houses represent opposing forces that embody the
inhabitants. This contrast is what brings about the presentation of this story
altogether, and is what draws itself to a human being by the richness of the
surrounding landscape.
Brontë, Emily. Wuthering Heights. Ed. Linda H. Peterson. Boston: Bedford
Books, 1992. Peterson, Linda H. Introduction. Wuthering Heights. By Emily Brontë.
Boston: Bedford Books, 1992. 3-13. “Wuthering.” WordSymth: The Educational
Dictionary-Thesaurus. WordSymth Collaboration, 1999. 21 March 2000. *

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