Essay, Research Paper: Wuthering Heights By Bronte

Literature: Wuthering Heights

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Throughout the novel Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte effectively utilizes
weather and setting as methods of conveying insight to the reader of the
personal feeling of the characters. While staying at Thrushcross Grange, Mr.
Lockwood made a visit to meet Mr. Heathcliff for a second time, and the horrible
snow storm that he encounters is the first piece of evidence that he should have
perceived about Heathcliff's personality. The setting of the moors is one that
makes them a very special place for Catherine and Heathcliff, and they are thus
very symbolic of their friendship and spirts. The weather and setting are very
effective tools used throughout the end of the novel as well, for when the
weather becomes nice it is not only symbolic of the changing times, and the
changing people, but also a new beginning. During his stay at Thrushcross Grange
Mr. Lockwood made the perilous journey to Wuthering Heights only a few times. On
the occasion of his second visit, "the snow began to drive thickly"(7)
during his walk, and this horrible weather should have been foreshadowing to
Lockwood about Heathcliff's, and the other member's of the household's true
personalities. Upon arriving he was forced to bang continually upon the door
before someone would take the care to let him in out of the cold. The dinner
that Lockwood was permitted to have with the ‘family' was anything but
hospitable. Lockwood was treated not unlike an ignorant and unworthy guest, and
hence the visit was in no way enjoyable for him. Upon desiring to leave the
destitute home, Lockwood finds the weather too intolerable for him to even
consider venturing out on his own, and upon being attacked by one of the dogs,
"he was pulled into the kitchen"(15) and allowed, however
ungraciously, to stay the night at Wuthering Heights. Once his walk home
commenced the following day, Lockwood found himself being escorted by Heathcliff
himself. The path that is used as a means of connection between the two houses
does well to exemplify the feeling contained within each. The path that is
nearest to the Heights is long and winding, with "many pits, at least, were
filled to a level; and entire ranges of mounds, the refuse of the quarries . . .
blotted from the chart"(28). This description is a disheartening one, and
causes the reader to associate this kind of representation with the Heights.
Upon reaching the pass between the Heights and the Grange, Heathcliff did not
continue to direct Lockwood's travels. He stated that he "could make no
error there"(28), for the path is transformed into one that is straight and
easy for Lockwood to follow. These preliminary descriptions of the path between
the two houses, and the weather upon first being introduced to the characters,
help in conveying the personalities of the characters in a more subtle manner.
The area surrounding both the Heights and the Grange are referred to as the
moors, and they are an important setting for many characters throughout the
course of the novel. The two characters that the moors are most symbolic of,
however, are Heathcliff and Catherine Linton. The two would play on the moors as
children, and this area of land was very expressive of their wild personalities,
and of their friendship. The moors are thought of by them as a place where they
could be free and unrestricted to be themselves. Brontė once again utilizes a
setting to represent the personalities of her characters, for here she uses the
wildness of the moors to express the wildness of Heathcliff and Catherine. One
evening Catherine makes the decision to marry Edgar Linton, and not her true
love Heathcliff. Heathcliff hears her declaration and runs off into the moors.
Not long after Heathcliff leaves the vicinity of the Grange, a "storm came
rattling over the Heights in full fury"(78), and Catherine refuses to sleep
without her love present in the Heights. "Catherine would not be persuaded
into tranquility. She kept wandering to and fro, from the gate to the door . . .
and at length took up a permanent situation on one side of the wall, near the
road, where, . . . great drops [of rain] began to plash around her(78). She was
desperate for Heathcliff to come home, and without Catherine even speaking, the
reader can know of this desperation. Brontė is able to allow the outer weather
to symbolize the inner emotional state of Catherine. The setting of the moors is
not only able to distinguish the personalities of characters, but also is able
to differentiate between different characters. When Catherine went to
Thrushcross Grange, the ominous description of the moors followed her. The
change in how setting is described is a tool utilized by Brontė as a way of
showing the reader that the story is within the Characters, and the words used
to describe the setting around any specific character is meant to exemplify that
particular individual. Toward the end of the novel, around the time of
Lockwood's return to visit Wuthering Heights, the weather suddenly becomes
kinder and the setting more amiable. Upon walking up to the door of the Heights
"all that remained of day was a beamless, amber light along the west' but
[he] could see every pebble on the path, and every blade of grass by that
splendid moon"(286). This feeling that the reader acquires from the
description of the weather is a much more placid one than used before within the
novel. Lockwood was able to enter freely into the yard of Heights, and there was
"a fragrance of stocks and wall flowers, [that] wafted on the air, from
amongst them homely fruit trees"(286). Never before was the Heights
described as a tranquil place, and yet it is here. The garden that Cathy planted
is outside of the doors and is filled with twisted fir trees, and domestic
plant. These two kinds of plants mingling together represent Cathy's personality
very well. Cathy has wildness, as the twisted fir tree, like her mother, and
decorousness, as the domestic plants, like her father. Brontė is able to
express the changing times to the reader, even before the characters are
reintroduced into the dialogue. Upon once again meeting the character, it is
quite apparent that times have changed for the better. Heathcliff has died, and
with him he takes the foreboding atmosphere of the Heights with him. What is
left behind is the carefree feeling that Brontė want the reader to associate
with the love developing between Haerton Earnshaw and Cathy Linton. Within the
last paragraph of the novel the reader becomes very aware of the end to the
story, this is because of the use of setting to donate the feeling of an end to
the reader and a "quiet slumber for the sleepers in that quiet
earth"(315). Bronte very effectively uses the weather and the setting
within Wuthering Heights to always allow the reader a little more insight into
the minds of the characters. The setting and weather seem to mimic the feeling
of the individuals that are within the novel. Brontė's use of this as a
literary tool is very intriguing, and very helpful in aiding the reader in their
grasping the complexity of the characters within the novel.

Bronte, Emily: Wuthering Heights, Amsco School Publications, Inc., (c) 1970
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