How does Bronte make the death of Mr. Earnshaw such a moving and significant moment in Wuthering Heights?
Nelly's narration of the death of her master, Mr. Earnshaw, is moving and poignant in a number of ways, and stylistically Bronte uses a number of devices to highlight the significance of this event. Firstly, pathetic fallacy is used in the description of the weather. Pathetic fallacy is when the weather and nature is used to echo emotions and feelings that are experienced by characters. Although it was not cold in the house, Nelly reports that a "high wind blustered round the house, and roared in the chimney." This could be said to foreshadow the grief that is to follow the death of Mr. Earnshaw and the way that his death leaves Cathy and Heathcliff exposed to the mistreatment of Hindley.
There is also, in the ending of this section, another hint of the troubles that are to come now that Mr. Earnshaw has died. The way in which Nelly narrates how Cathy and Heathcliff comfort each other with their notions of what heaven is causes her to feel all the more grief:
The little souls were comforting each other with better thoughts than I could have hit on; no Parson in the world ever pictured heaven as beautifully as they did, in their innocent talk; and, while I sobbed, and listened, I could not help wishing we were all there together.
Nelly ends this section by wishing in vain that they could all be safe and protected from the horrors of everyday life that are to come upon them, pointing towards future pain and suffering. The use of pathetic fallacy and the way that Nelly's account foreshadows future suffering and tragedy clearly highlights the significance of this event, and the response of Cathy and Heathcliff who innocently paint a picture of heaven that stands in such contrast to real life in order to assuage their grief makes this scene a moving one.
check Approved by eNotes Editorial