How do the Gothic elements in the extreme settings and sceneries contribute to Wuthering Heights?

The Gothic elements in the extreme settings and sceneries contribute to Wuthering Heights by intensifying the mysterious, somber mood and adding to a sense of foreboding. The dominant extreme setting is the moors, which are wild and untamed like Heathcliff himself and later become the domain of Cathy’s ghost. The location of the homes, far from towns, make the characters physically isolated, which corresponds to their feelings of alienation.

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In Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë uses extreme settings to establish a dark, foreboding atmosphere which quickly makes the reader suspect that the novel will not end happily. By using a new arrival, Mr. Lockwood, as the narrator, she emphasizes how strange the territory and the houses seem to an outsider. The general setting of the Yorkshire moors contributes most significantly to a somber aura of mystery. This impression is soon compounded not just by the appearance of Cathy’s ghost but also by Heathcliff’s attempt to interact with the spirit.

The moors, which extend for a considerable distance around the houses, are wild, open spaces. Their character matches that of Heathcliff, who appeared mysteriously as a child without any known family. These uncivilized spaces become the site of Heathcliff and Cathy’s meetings, corresponding to their relationship being outside of social norms. Although Heathcliff is ultimately tamed by Cathy’s love, they can only be together after death as spirits roaming the moors.

The houses also contribute to the mood. Both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange are located out of town and some distance apart. While the residents are therefore more dependent on their neighbors’ company, the isolation later also enables Edgar to keep young Cathy away from Wuthering Heights.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 8, 2020
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