Do the homes in Wuthering Heights support or criticise Victorians ideals about domesticity?

Expert Answers
accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yes, to a certain extent, however we could argue that this is to be seen much more in the case of Thrushcross Grange than in Wuthering Heights. What is so fascinating about Wuthering Heights is that it, to Lockwood's eye, seems somewhat tainted by the ownership of Heathcliff. Even though it does have the normal kitchen scene where Lockwood imagines a farmer drinking frothing tankards of ale, at the same time, there are elements that make the homely scene rather unsettling to the discerning eye. Consider this quotation from Chapter One:

One end, indeed, reflected splendidly both light and heat from ranks of immense pewter dishes, interspersed with silver jugs and tankards, towering row after row, on a vast oak dresser, to the very roof. The latter had never been under-drawn: its entire anatomy lay bare to an inquiring eye, except where a frame of wood laden with oatcakes and clusters of legs of beef, mutton, and ham, concealed it. Above the chimney were sundry villainous old guns, and a couple of horse-pistols: and, by way of ornament, three gaudily-painted canisters disposed along its ledge. The floor was of smooth, white stone; the chairs, high-backed, primitive structures, painted green: one or two heavy black ones lurking in the shade.

In some ways, this is a normal kitchen scene that reflects the Victorian ideal of home as a place of comfort and security. It has all of the trappings of pewter plates and tankards and an oak dresser. Food is there in great quantities as well. However, occasional descriptions of objects such as "sundry villainous old guns" and the "primitive" chairs that are personified as "lurking in the shade" add a somewhat unsettling feel to the scene as Lockwood describes it to us. Although it is shown to be a home, he and we as readers are unable to relax fully in such a setting.

Read the study guide:
Wuthering Heights

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question