How are the homes in Wuthering Heights represented?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The importance of the two homes in this novel is very significant, as they both act to help elucidate the conflict that occurs between raw, elemental nature and civilisation. If we start off by considering Wuthering Heights as a house, its location is tremendously important as it is situated on an exposed part of the moor and is therefore open to all of the force of the elements. Note what Lockwood tells us about the physical description of the house in Chapter 1:

'Wuthering' being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather. Pure, bracing ventilation they must have up there at all times, indeed: 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. Happily, the architect had foresight to build it strong: the narrow windows are deeply set in the wall, and the corners defended with large jutting stones.

It is exposed and it is unprotected and it is very strongly built. It is particularly key to note the parallel between the characters that live here and the way that they experience emotions and the weather that they have. Characters express their emotions like the weather that surrounds them and are just as fickle as the elements themselves.

Thrushcross Grange, by contrast, is situated in a protected part of the Moors and is surrounded by woods and a perimeter wall before you enter its grounds. It, as befitting the house representing civilisation, is therefore much more peaceful, calm and tranquil than its blustery neighbour. It is therefore significant that the Linton family dwell here. The comparison between the Earnshaws and the Lintons make the symbolic significance of the two houses clear as Thrushcross Grange clearly represents culture and society and Wuthering Heights stands for feeling and acting on instinct whatever the consequences.

Jessica Pope eNotes educator| Certified Educator
In Wuthering Heights, homes are represented as the seat of male power and the physical location that accomadates patriarchal control over female autonomy and sexuality. The most telling example of this dynamic is the Heathcliff estate. This massive farmhouse sits atop a hill in the center of the community. It is lavish: containing a garden, stables, a parlour, several spare rooms and four separate wings. The women residing there live in relative physical comfort due to their class status. However, the house also imprisons them. In particular, Catherine is subject to Mr. Earnshaw's abusive domination and control. Catherine is also literally imprisoned on the estate as she is forbidden to leave the grounds. The representation of homes in Wuthering Heights shares many characteristic with other literary representations of home from that era. In many Victorian novels, the representations of home reflect complex and extremely hierarchical power dynamics. For example, Dickens' novels often portray home as a place where child abuse and neglect rule the day. However, Wuthering Heights was groundbreaking in that it described domestic life from a female perspective. Moreover, its female characters yearn for autonomy - a privilege granted almost exclusively to men at the time. This difference made many critics of the time question the novel's legitimacy. Critics of Bronte's time did not consider the work a literary masterpiece. However, contemporary literary critics appreciate the novel as spearheading an important literary sub-genre within Victorain Romanticism: one that gave primacy to the desires, experiences and personhood of women.
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Wuthering Heights

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