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Emily Bronte's classic, Wuthering Heights, is a novel that contains much imagery and figurative language that matches the passionate characters and untamed setting. Surely, readers will have no difficulty identifying the various elements.
Wuthering Heights itself seems gothic in its architecture and landscape:
'Wuthering' being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather....one may guess the power of the north wind blowing over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few stunted firs at the end of the house; and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun....Before passing the threshold, I paused to admire a quantity of grotesque carving lavished over the front....
The Yorkshire moors and lowlands lend themselves well to the gothic with their rocky outcropping of patches of heather, and lowlands that are marshy. The weather is very fickle, storms come in suddenly, and the wind blows harshly. The night that Lockwood arrives at Wuthering Heights, there is a severe storm, so Lockwood spends part of the night reading notations made in books by Catherine Earnshaw. After falling asleep, Lockwood dreams that Catherine Earnshaw begs to be let in. Heathcliff, who is awakened by Lockwood's screams runs to the room, throws open the windows and begs Catherine to come in:
"Come in! come in!" he sobbed. "Cathy do come. Oh do--once more! Oh! my heart's darling! hear me this time , Catherine, at last!"
There was such anguish in the gush of grief that accompanied this raving...
The character Heathcliff is erratic, temptuous, and difficult as a child; he is dark and brooding:
Heathcliff's violent nature was not prepared to endure the appearance of impertinence from one whom he seemed to hate, even then, as a rival. He seized a tureen of hot apple sauce...and dashed it full against the speaker's face and neck....(Chapter 7)
Heathcliff is referred to with language evocative of the devil:
"a dark-skinned gipsy," his eyes are described as a
couple of black fiends, so deeply buried, who never open their windows boldly, but lurk glinting under them, like devil's spies.
--Ghosts appear in a more ambiguous way than they do in typical gothic works, so they seem more symbolic. Certain ghosts, such as Catherine in Chapter 3, when Lockwood wakes from a nightmare, and the villager's sighting of Heathcliff's ghost in Chapter 34 can be explained as a nightmare and superstitious beliefs respectively.
--Animals are used to symbolize Heathcliff's nature. Edgar Linton refers to Heathcliff as "a fierce, pitiless, wolfish man." When Catherine dies in his arms, Heathcliff howls like a wolf. He himself uses animal imagery when he wishes to insult people: "Hareton, you infernal calf, begone to your work." (Chapter 20)
--Wuthering Heights with its "atmospheric tumult," and Thrushcross Grange as "a splendid place," are highly symbolic as the first represents a storm and the latter calm. They are appropriate homes for the residents of them.
--Weather is symbolic. The storm symbolizes the stormy relationship of Heathcliff and Catherine, as well as the intensely passionate natures of the two.
The love that Catherine and Heathcliff share is one beyond mortals. Catherine in Chapter 9 tells Nelly,
...there is...an existence of yours beyond you....My love for Heathcliff represents the eternal rocks beneath....Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure anymore than I am a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.
Likewise, Heathcliff compares Catherine to his "soul" that he cannot live without. His desperate attempt for a greater, higher reunion with Catherine after her death is metaphysical in its nature.
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