English literature

LIT3: Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights

The Author:

Emily Bronte, born in 1818, was the daughter of a clergyman. Alongside her sisters Charlotte and Anne she would grow to be a key part of one of the most famous families in literature.

At the young age of three Emily lost her mother to cancer. Later in their lives at school the Bronte sisters suffered to the cold and lack of food, and eventually a typhoid epidemic swept through their school leaving them recovering from the death of two of their siblings.

Their father was incredibly strict and made the girls sit in a room together in silence. Emily and Charlotte would escape into their writing, together they created a fictional world called Gondal.

Links have been made between the harsh and isolated Yorkshire landscape (perhaps similar to her upbringing?) and the raw elemental writing of Emily Bronte. Many also stress the importance of the time in which Wuthering Heights was written, a time when women were still being held back by sexist societal views. All of the Bronte sister’s novels were published under male pseudonyms. Some even go as far as to theorise that Cathy was created to represent all the pent-up desires and characteristics of Emily Bronte.

A Balanced Approach:

It’s important not to read Wuthering Heights with a one sided view. You’ll miss so much substance from the book if you just see Heathcliff as a dark romantic man, or Cathy as solely a selfish heartless being. There is so much depth to almost every aspect of the novel. For instance, Heathcliff is ‘mass of contradictions’, he’s an utter brute, he beats animals and humans alike, he holds an obsession for Cathy that will keep him going on his course of destruction no matter who he hurts along the way. On the other hand you’ll find like Frankenstein’s monster, he is a noble savage, a victim of circumstance and still clearly displays genuine care and tenderness towards Catherine.

Catherine on the other hand is incredibly mischievous at a younger age and never really sees the torment she inflicts upon others, and she inflicts such pain upon almost every other character in the novel. However she also has a deeper side, she holds a burning passion for Heathcliff and despite her circumstances doesn’t show signs of snobbishness like her brother.

Chapters 1-3:

Mr Lockwood (The narrator) rents Thrushcross Grange from Heathcliff. Lockwood goes to Wuthering Heights to visit Heathcliff but gets snowed in for the night. He finds both the building and its inhabitants forbidding and unnerving.

Lockwood finds a bible in his bedroom that used to belong to Catherine. During the night he has a nightmare about Catherine trying to make her way into the window.

  • ‘An almost melancholy voice sobbed… ‘Let me in! Let me in!’ – This is a common theme of the Gothic genre, escaping the melancholy.
  • Through description alone the reader is instantly made to feel unwelcome:

Black eyes

  • ‘Wuthering’ is used to describe the grim atmosphere of the stormy moors.
  • Even the description of the environment is used to emphasize the darkness of the moors:

    ‘thorns all stretching their limbs one way as if craving alms of the sun.’ – even something stereotypically dark/evil is seemingly seeking light from the evil of the moors.

  • On first impression Heathcliff fits the characteristics of a Gothic protagonist. He is an attractive and an emotionally reserved mysterious male.
  • Heathcliff shows no affection towards the dogs.
  • Chapter 2 again, shows signs of a very unwelcoming host and atmosphere:

‘The tone in which the words were said revealed a genuine bad nature.’

‘A sorrowful sight I saw: dark night coming down prematurely.’

-Similar to Macbeth.

  • Heathcliff’s paranoia about Catherine’s old room heightens the sense of mystery and fear of this dark man:

‘A stranger is a stranger… permit anyone the range of the place while I am off guard.’


  • Wuthering Heights is described to be a ‘perfect Misanthrop’s heaven‘. There are multiple references to how isolated it is. One may say that it is removed from normal society, surrounded in fog it is its own little world. A world not governed by our own laws or social constraints.
  • Lockwood has a desire to be alone has led him to this isolated place. Yet he is drawn to Heathcliff, for a ‘misanthrop’ it’s odd that he wishes to see someone so unwelcoming (let alone anyone) two days in a row.
  • Dreams are used as portents (giving a sense of foreboding) or symbols.
  • There is an abundance of the supernatural in these early chapters, Lockwood calls Wuthering Heights ‘Haunted’ and ‘swarming with ghosts and goblins‘. These words are used quite lightly by Lockwod and ‘goblins’ shows this, he doesn’t get how seriously dark and twisted Wuthering Heights and its history actually is. Heathcliff believes in Catherine’s ghost.
  • The brutal tone of the novel is set when everything become grotesque during Lockwood’s nightmare:

BLOOD ran down and soaked the bedclothes’

Chapters 4-7:

(I’ve lost my notes for the next few sections so most of the following is done in a rush or taken straight from my revision material)

Mrs Dean begins to tell Lockwood the tale of Heathcliff and Catherine’s upbringing. The owner of Wuthering heights, Mr Earnshaw, brings Heathcliff home with him after a trip to Liverpool. Earnshaw wants the orphan to be brought up alongside his own children. Earnshaw and Catherine welcome him into the family but Hindley acts incredibly cruel towards him.

Hindley is sent away to college but when his father dies he returns to Wuthering Heights with a wife in order to take over the estate and so drives Heathcliff out. Heathcliff continues to run wild on the moors with Catherine.

They wander onto the property of Thrushcross Grange after planning to run away together. Catherine is attacked by the guard dog and remains at the Grange with the Linton family who nurse her back to health. When she finally returns to Wuthering Heights she has changed, she has become more refined. Heathcliff cannot stand this change in her.

When the Lintons visit Wuthering Heights at Christmas, Edgar clashes with Heathcliff resulting in Hindley punishing Heathcliff by harshly beating him, this is the moment when it becomes apparent that Heathcliff intends to get his revenge on Hindley.


  • There’s a change in narrator much like Frankenstein, there is a story within a story.
  • Like the other noble savage Frankenstein’s creature, there’s no real background to Heathcliff. We aren’t made aware of his parents or where he’s from.
  • There’s a lot of casual violence in Wuthering Heights:

‘Hindley’s blows,’ ‘my pitches‘ ‘thrashings

  • Catherine is not a damsel, nor is she a femme-fatale, she’s her own character. She’s lively and complex.
  • At their happiest Heathcliff and Catherine were ‘as rude as savages‘, they lived their own lives and ignored the rules of society. It’s when they each give up to those rules that things go downhill.
  • Heathcliff is capable of and makes it clear that he’s willing to commit extreme violence:

‘I’d not exchange for a thousand lives… Hindley’s blood

  • There is a huge contrast between Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering heights, both in atmosphere and in their names. The Grange gives a sense of culture and peace in comparison to Wuthering Heights’ chaos and isolation.
  • Heathcliff begs Nelly to ‘make me decent‘ he bows to the laws of society because of his love for Catherine. (rather a redeeming moment)
  • Words such as ‘fiends,‘ and ‘devil’s spies‘ are used around description of Heathcliff, like Frankenstein’s creature, it seems that he is touched by evil.
  • Also like in Frankenstein, Heathcliff’s life and misfortune is all seemingly pre-determined by his birth and heritage. Like the creature he is judged by his appearance.

Chapters 8-9:

Frances (Hindley’s wife) gives birth to Hareton and dies shortly afterwards. As Hindley reels from the loss of his wife, Hareton is left to the care of Nelly. The whole family structure is collapsing.

Catherine’s interest in Linton becomes serious as she begins to see him as a potential husband. Catherine speaks to Nelly about how her real love is for Heathcliff but she refuses to marry him given his social status:

‘If that wicked man had not brought Heathcliff so low’ – She almost despises Edgar for that.

Linton has the ability to give her security and comfort. Heathcliff overhears this conversation and leaves before hearing her final words in which she says that if she marries Linton she may be able to help Heathcliff.

Heathcliff disappears and Catherine moves to Thrushcross Grange with Edgar where three years later they marry.


  • Hindley’s rejection of God, something that in the 19th Century would imply a great degree of moral degeneration.
  • Heathcliff becomes more rough and brutal. Nelly says that he appears to be ‘possessed by something diabolical‘ – another Satan reference.
  • Catherine shows violence against Nelly, Edgar and baby Hareton, displaying her own degeneration.
  • There is a moment of such dark tone in the novel when Heathcliff catches Hareton after he fell from the stairs, and instantly regretted doing so. He has such a powerful obsession of revenge on Hindley that he would have ‘smashed Hareton’s skull on the steps‘ right there and then if he could have gotten away with it. His passion for revenge is so great that he would kill an innocent child so gruesomely for the chance of hurting the one he hates… when it is clear that Hindley does not even care much for the child.
  • Catherine claims that Heathcliff is more herself than she is, that they are soul-mates.
  • It will naturally seem unfair to the reader that Catherine refuses to be with Heathcliff because of his circumstances, but this leads back to balance. We may empathise with him now but his actions throughout the novel are often unforgivable, no matter the motivation.

Chapters 10-14:

Lockwood is ill for four weeks and very quickly begins to hate the isolation and bleak atmosphere of the countryside. As Nelly resumes her story he is told of how Edgar and Cathy lived a happy life at Thrushcross Grange until Heathcliff returns to the Moors and asks to see Catherine. Catherine is clearly ecstatic to see him again and soon begins to compare Edgar unfavourably next to him, friction soon develops between himself and Heathcliff. Heathcliff stays nearby at Wuthering Heights with Hindley where he exploits his greed and gambling habits.

As contact between Catherine and Heathcliff continues, Isabella falls for him. While he does not care for her at all, he sees the family fortune she has access to and an opportunity to get revenge on the Linton family.

Nelly visits Wuthering Heights and is appalled at the goings on there. Hareton is practically being raised by Heathcliff now, badly (obviously). Meanwhile, Heathcliff is spending his time pursuing Isabella, Nelly wastes no time in informing Edgar of this. The two have a showdown in which Catherine doesn’t act as one would expect a wife at the time to, she forces her husband to fight like a man or apologise. Son after she has a fit and falls ill. While delirious she rambles about her love of Heathcliff and Wuthering heights. Elsewhere Heathcliff has eloped with Isabella who Edgar has disowned.

As Catherine slowly recovers she remains fragile and depressed, she also finds out that she is pregnant. Two months pass and Heathcliff and Isabella return to Wuthering Heights followed by Nelly receiving a letter from Isabella telling of the terrible conditions she is living under (Note the abundance of violence). When Nelly visits Wuthering Heights she soon discovers that Isabella has been reduced to a ‘slattern‘, strangely Heathcliff is appearing to be even more of a gentleman in Nelly’s presence.

He then goes on to ask Nelly to arrange a meeting between himself and Catherine, when she refuses, his true nature reveals itself. He harshly abuses Isabella forcing Nelly to arrange it.


  • When Heathcliff returns he has undergone a clear transformation. Although in appearance he has become a gentleman, there is something incredibly threatening and brooding about him. His obsession with revenge has clearly driven him and kept him going (like Frankenstein AND his monster). All he wishes is to get his revenge on Hindley and kill himself. (bare in mind how sacrilegious suicide was and is seen):

‘No God shall not have the satisfaction that I shall … while I’m thinking of that I don’t feel pain‘ – (Prometheus link?)

  • In Catherine’s speech about how Heathcliff’s return has ‘reconciled me to God and humanity’ we see that although she is incredibly self-centred, she is also capable of great love, a somewhat redeeming characteristic in her. She is perhaps the only character who shows true hope in Heathcliff, with that hope taken away he experiences a self-fulfilling prophecy that others have put on him.
  • Isabella becomes a victim to both Heathcliff and Catherine who both despise her. She even becomes rejected by her own brother. If any character in Wuthering Heights is a damsel, it is Isabella.
  • Heathcliff is naturally incredibly persuasive and influential, he uses this to his advantage and acts incredibly manipulative towards all he can exploit.
  • Catherine’s increasing hysteria and violent words in Chapter 12. She believes the room is haunted and yearns for Heathcliff. Nelly in the meantime is being criticised by both Edgar and Catherine for how the situation is panning out.
  • Heathcliff hangs Isabella’s pet dog. His cruelty is appalling.
  • As Isabella describes life at Wuthering Heights we find that Hareton has been given so little attention that he is more of an animal than a child and Hindley is a drunkard who’s determined to kill Heathcliff.
  • Heathcliff points out that Isabella pictured him as some kind of romantic hero, just like many of the female readers of Wuthering Heights have done (or tried to do so). He personally describes how he hung her dog, he is open about his own cruelty and criticises such an ignorant trail of thought. (Breaking the fourth wall, perhaps a critique on society and how women are content to be dominated by such men.)
  • Heathcliff’s language matches Catherine’s at some stages in its intense and disturbing nature:

‘I have no pity! I have no pity! The more the worms writhe, the more I yearn to crush out their entrails! It is a moral teething; and I grind with greater energy in proportion to the increase in pain.’

– This also contrasts greatly with the more civil and higher class dialect of Edgar . A sign that Heathcliff and Catherine are made for each other.

Chapters 15-17:

Heathcliff finally manages to see Catherine at the Grange when Edgar is away. As passionate as their reunion is, Heathcliff realises that she will soon die. Unable to see the weight behind her words she states that Heathcliff and Linton are the reasons for her death. She taunts him by speaking of how is life will be like without her. On the other hand she’s happy to die knowing that they are as close as they could ever get:

‘he’s in my soul‘.

‘Nelly, I am Heathcliff

Catherine eventually gives birth to a baby girl and dies two months later. Heathcliff’s grief turns to rage:

‘Catherine Earnshaw you may not rest as long as I am living.

Heathcliff even torments her on her deathbed:

‘You have killed yourself. Yes you may kiss me… they’ll blight you, they’ll damn you

‘Be with me always take on any form drive me mad‘ – we as the readers get the feeling she does, and she has… This relates back to Lockwood’s nightmare

-‘I’ll never let you in, not if you beg for twenty years’…

‘It is twenty years… I’ve been a waif for twenty years’- Perhaps Heathcliff truly got what he desired.

The day before the funeral Heathcliff takes the locket in Catherine’s casket and replaces Edgar’s hair inside with his own. Nelly is aware of this and ensures both locks of hair are inside but twisted around one another, symbolising Catherine’s mess of a love affair for the two.

As we would expect from Catherine she is not buried in the Linton family grave, she is instead buried on the edge between the moorlands and the churchyard. (In love with Edgar but always on the edge of escaping their relationship)

Isabella escapes Wuthering Heights to London where she gives birth to Heathcliff’s son, Linton. Hindley dies soon afterwards and the estate is left to Heathcliff. Edgar Linton shuts himself off from the world although he does not exactly live in complete misery as we would expect, he still gets much joy from his daughter Cathy. When he tries to get custody of Hareton but Heathcliff says that if he does so he will bring Linton back to the heights.


  • Nelly describes Catherine as one ‘doomed to decayand how she possesses ‘unearthly beauty’.
  • There’s a strong presence of violence and passion between Catherine and Heathcliff. Even in their relationship they do not follow societal norms.
  • Catherine continuously refers to her own death as if she knows it’s going to happen or that she’s given up. ‘ You have killed me.’ Heathcliff becomes angry at her and accuses her of being possessed with a devil (much like himself). Their relationship is so destructive that the only way that either of them can escape it is through death.
  • ‘Your pride cannot blind God‘ Nelly’s assessment of how Heathcliff refuses to act like a normal upstanding decent human being. She speaks of how the extent of his anger will never allow him any form of peace.

-It’s worth noting here how Heathcliff lets his anger control him, even in his older age he despises Hareton because he is the son of one of Hindley. Edgar on the other hand welcomes Linton lovingly like his own son even though he is the son of Heathcliff. You could argue that Linton’s ability to let go of his hatred gives him a better, more peaceful life.

  • ‘May she wake in torment‘ – Heathcliff actually wishes for Catherine to suffer in hell, seemingly she does as he says because of Lockwood’s nightmare

Chapters 18-24:

Life becomes somewhat peaceful in the next twelve years that pass on the moors. Isabella leaves Linton to Edgar and while he goes away Cathy wanders the moors and comes across Wuthering Heights. She is first under the impression that Hareton is in fact the servant. She is shocked to find out that he is in fact her cousin, referring to Linton as her ‘real cousin’. When Edgar returns with Linton Heathcliff demands his son is returned to him. Although incredibly unpleasant to him, he does not physically harm him. Heathcliff is aware that when Edgar passes Linton will inherit Thrushcross Grange.

Cathy, being incredibly upset at her ‘real cousin’ being sent away actually soon forgets him. At the age of sixteen she meets Heathcliff and Hareton on the moors and accompanies them back to Wuthering Heights to see Linton.

When Edgar demands that Cathy doesn’t return to Wuthering Heights she becomes upset and insists on writing to Linton without her father’s approval. Heathcliff stops their correspondence and later informs Cathy that Linton is pining for her, guilting her into visiting him. A relationship between the two develops secretly until Nelly finds out about it. As Linton becomes more and more ill it becomes clear that although their meetings often end in arguments, there is a genuine sense of attraction and fondness between the two.


  • Cathy has grown into a beautiful and much more obedient (like her father) child than Catherine although she still holds some of the wilful and complex characteristics of her mother. When she meets Hareton there is even somewhat of a sense of deja vu. Due to the class differences their meeting is reminiscent of Heathcliff’s arrival to the Earnshaw family.
  • Linton shows only characteristics of Edgar, he is polite and timid, there are absolutely no signs of his biological inheritance from Heathcliff. (NATURE VS NURTURE!). Due to his delicate nature there is a sense of dramatic irony that Linton will not last long at Wuthering Heights.
  • Hareton’s attempts to improve himself are mocked by Cathy (the girl he has feelings for) and he is clearly jealous of her feelings for Linton. Again there is a sense of deja vu.
  • There is such a vast contrast between Cathy and Linton.

Chapters 25-34:

Nelly has almost finished her narration. At this point Edgar is dying and so is Linton. Heathcliff in the meantime has been scheming for Linton to marry Cathy before her death. Edgar finally agrees that the cousins should meet. It’s clear that Linton is only going through with the meet because of his fear of his father. Their second meet turns out to be a trap and Heathcliff holds Cathy (and Nelly) in the household so that he can make the two marry in order to ensure he will control the entire Linton estate.

The wedding finally occurs and Catherine runs away just in time to see her father before he passes away. (Note how peaceful Edgar’s passing is in comparison to Catherine and Heathcliff’s). After Edgar’s funeral Heathcliff goes to Thrushcross Grange to see Cathy and forcefully take her back to Wuthering Heights.

Although she has lost contact with Cathy, Nelly still hears of the goings on at Wuthering Heights via Zillah, a servant at Wuthering Heights. Cathy cares for Linton until his passing. She remains distant from the others living at the Heights and rejects Hareton and his approaches.

When Lockwood returns to Wuthering Heights to inform Heathcliff that he will be leaving for London he notices Cathy’s cruelty towards Hareton and That Heathcliff’s appearance has changed.

One year passes and Lockwood returns to the Heights, he finds that Cathy has changed her attitude towards Hareton and is teaching him to read. Nelly informs Lockwood that Heathcliff died three months earlier and is hopeful that Cathy and Hareton will marry.

Nelly also speaks of Heathcliff’s ‘queer end‘. He is constantly haunted by Catherine and sees her everywhere. He is driven to madness. He no longer wishes for revenge, only Catherine, he even experiences a ‘strange happiness‘ and welcomes death.

When they plan to marry it is said about Hareton and Cathy that ‘they are afraid of nothing… Together they would brave Satan and all his legions‘ – one could argue that by surviving the evil of Heathcliff they already have.

In typical Gothic fashion Wuthering Heights ends with a somewhat lighter tone, showing a glimmer of hope for the future generations (change- romanticism) Because of their union, the hatred between the two families in the past will fade with time. Their wedding day will be on New Years day – symbolising a new beginning.


  • It is vital to take notice of how far Heathcliff will go to achieve his aims. He is like Frankenstein in his obsessions and how he acts upon them so casually when they are horrifying to any outside pair of eyes.
  • There are constant references to the grim weather patterns on the moors, they are dark, brooding and stormy. – Much like the darkness and violence of the events at the heights.
  • Heathcliff is constantly violent towards Linton and Cathy, he is clearly still head over heels in love with Catherine. Closely examine how he snatches the locket from Cathy’s neck and grinds the picture of Edgar beneath his foot. Perhaps he despises her not just because she is the daughter of Edgar, but because she’s the daughter that should have been his.
  • Although Linton has perhaps inherited some viciousness from his father, he cannot and would not follow it through as he shows such horror at the atrocities of his father:

‘I wink to see my father stroke a dog or horse, he does it so hard‘ – There’s such innocence in this extract.

  • During Edgar’s funeral Heathcliff opens Catherine’s coffin again just to be close to her, but of course even by committing such a vile act like digging up a corpse, Heathcliff can never be close to her again in the living world. It’s killing him:

‘It was a strange way of killing… through eighteen years!’

  • Heathcliff is said to have been seen wandering the moors, perhaps he never actually got the peace he sought.
  • Lockwood’s final description of the three graves is in itself incredibly disturbing.

Narrative Structure:

In the 19th Century both first person and omniscient narrators were very popular in writing. Bronte managed to make her writing unique in the way in which she used multiple narrators.

Lockwood does not understand the situation on the moors and so he is treated like the reader, everything is explained to him. More than just that though, Lockwood represents an average human mind, an outside perspective who is just as shocked and foreign as we are to the events and emotions at Wuthering Heights.

Nelly’s roles as a narrators is also vital. She is another ‘normal’ person who acts as a counterweight of control and stability to the madness. As a housekeeper at both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange at different stages she is both informed and able to give a reliable insight. She is able to see both the good and bad in Heathcliff and Catherine.

-At the same time it’s difficult to see how reliable she is, she deceives Edgar about Heathcliff and Catherine, as we are hearing so much about the events from her, how can we not be sure that she is hiding truths.

The story is also told through flashbacks, not necessarily one long chronological order of how it happened. This only emphasises the sense of instability in Wuthering Heights, much like the emotions and the relationships of the main characters.

The story is split into clear sections:

  • Introduction: Heathcliff is brought into the Earnshaw family
  • Development: Relationships become more complex (Heathcliff with Catherine and Hindley)
  • Climax: Catherine’s death
  • Denouement: Heathcliff’s revenge on the Linton family
  • Conclusion: Heathcliff has passed away and peace is finally being restored to the moors.

The structure of Wuthering Heights is much like a tragedy (Macbeth for instance).

The Setting:

The moorlands of Yorkshire are vital to the premise of the story. The elements are presented so powerfully (representing the extreme emotion) that they surround the two estates giving a feeling of imprisonment and claustrophobia. This sense of such a small community trapped with each other reminds us that these characters have no one else to socialise with.

Lord David Cecil claims that Wuthering Heights is a war between calm and storm. This is exemplified by two properties of the novel. Wuthering Heights represents the storm, it’s remote, exposed to the powerful elements and there is a sense of the primitive among the people living there.

The clear damage to the house is from how the powerful weather has battered it, yet it still stands as the trees surround are stunted in their growth, so are the people who are raised there.

Juxtaposing this we have Thrushcross Grange, a pleasant cottage in a pleasant valley, shielded from the elements.

Wuthering Heights appears to be Heathcliff’s natural environment, he has an admirable connection with nature that fits him to the Heights. When he leaves he comes back a destructive and revenge obsessed individual. The same connection between Wuthering Heights and Catherine can be made, Thrushcross Grange calms her and settles her, but when her true self is revealed in her delirium she is like a wild animal, she needs that harsh dose of nature from the Heights:

‘That heaven did not seem to be my home’ – Her heaven is the ‘Misanthrop‘s heaven’ or perhaps there is no heaven for her reinforced by ‘I’ve been a waif for twenty years.’

Again, the two are clearly at the happiest point in their lives when they are children, running free across the moors, uncultured and free, free from the rules and expectations of society. (This is applicable to both the themes of Nature vs. Nurture and a noble savage.) As there are rumours of ghosts on the moors and Wuthering Heights is finally closed at the end of the novel, we get the feeling that somewhere beyond the two are finally living like they should have.

The Characters:

Towards the end of the novel there is a sense that Catherine has killed herself, not explicitly but because she has given up on life. Bare in mind how sinful suicide is to the church which was widely accepted and respected in the 19th Century.

Catherine doesn’t exactly conform to Gothic stereotypes in that she is in no way a damsel, nor is she exactly femme-fatale. Although, she is incredibly wild and manipulative like one would expect a femme-fatale to be. At the same time she is not exactly the personification of evil like Lady Macbeth, she is more complex and human than most Gothic female characters.

Heathcliff is powerful, passionate and highly influential, he’s also incredibly cruel and unempathic. There are many descriptions of him connecting him with great evil and Satan himself. Again though, the issues is how much of this evil inside him has been brought about by his circumstances. Like Frankenstein’s creature he started out innocent and free, but bit by bit the evils of the world pick away at him moulding him into a dark and vengeful individual. HE even tries to change himself as a child:

Nelly, make me decent, I’m going to be good.’- There’s a sense of desperation in his tone, to escape from who he is.

Some critics suggest that Heathcliff is a ‘Byronic hero‘, like Byron he causes ‘scandal and thrill in equal measures’. He is ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know‘. Stereotypically, a Byronic hero is dark mysterious and brooding, haunted over a previous trauma.

-This trauma defines Heathcliff, it is what drives him on. His sole purpose in life has become revenge. Again, he is disregarding social expectations in order to fulfil his own personal desires. Acting in a cruel and calculating manner in which he works over a long period of time in order to destroy Hindley and the Lintons, even going as far as to manipulate and use Isabella for that very same purpose, exiling her from her own family in the process.

This lust for revenge in Heathcliff is his ‘tragic flaw‘ like Frankenstein’s passion for science. Under further analysis though, they are very very different characters. Heathcliff never stops to feel sorry for himself and certainly doesn’t act the victim, neither does he worry or care about who he’s hurting. He never loses focus on his desire. You could say that Heathcliff upholds his dignity which Frankenstein does not.

Edgar and Isabella represent society, and it’s structure contrasting them greatly with the primitivism of Heathcliff and Catherine. Edgar is very likeable, although first seemingly weak and fragile, he shows a certain moral and mental strength in how he never stops caring for his wife no matter how unfair or difficult she acts.

Isabella on the other hand is somewhat of an ignorant little girl. She is drawn to Heathcliff’s dark and mysterious nature despite warnings from both Catherine and her brother. She finally displays strength and maturity towards the end as she manages to run away with her son. (contextually at the time this would’ve been nigh on impossible for a woman to do).

Years later Hareton and Cathy are repeating history as a relationship develops between them, many of their parents qualities can be seen in them. Hareton’s love for Cathy is like an evolution of the previous generation. It is controlled and devoting like Edgar’s yet fiery and passionate like Heathcliff’s. 


I Seriously get the feeling this Gothic stuff is too emotional for me -.-





2 thoughts on “LIT3: Wuthering Heights”

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