What is the significance of the title, Wuthering Heights?

The title of Wuthering Heights points to the central setting, the house, Wuthering Heights. This house is symbolic of the internal life of Heathcliff, its main inhabitant. The setting establishes this novel as an ideal example of Romantic and Gothic literature. Therefore, the title is significant because it highlights the central location and themes of the novel.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Emily Brontë’s 1847 novel Wuthering Heights is frequently used as a standard example of Romantic and Gothic literature. This is because one of the defining features of Romantic and Gothic literature is the setting, which is used to create the dark and foreboding atmosphere. The title of this novel is significant because it refers to the setting of most of the novel the house Wuthering Heights. This house is set in the moors, which also creates the eerie atmosphere.

In the opening of the novel, Brontë’s narrator, Mr. Lockwood, describes the setting:

Wuthering Heights is the name of Mr. Heathcliff’s dwelling. ‘Wuthering’ being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather...Before passing the threshold, I paused to admire a quality of grotesque carving lavished over the front, and especially about the principal door (chapter 1).

Throughout the novel, the details about Wuthering Heights further cement it as a Gothic setting. The house reflects its inhabitants, which is another common element of Romantic literature. Heathcliff, the master of the house, is frequently shown in the guarding the doorway of the house. There is power in controlling property, as is displayed with Heathcliff’s actions.

His tumultuous emotional life and his need to show dominance are exhibited by his actions concerning Wuthering Heights. He was not initially welcomed into Wuthering Heights, so he continues this behavior by barring others from entering his emotional and physical sphere. This distancing of himself based on an emotional scar is a frequent element of Gothic literature.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on June 29, 2020
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Brontë named her novel Wuthering Heights because the place Wuthering Heights, manor and farm, is the nucleus of the story. The word wuthering itself describes the harsh, rugged weather of the area.

The rough environment of Wuthering Heights, an old stone manor house dating from the sixteenth century, breeds the tough, deep, entangled roots that bind Catherine and Heathcliff to each other and the moors. They are raised on harshness, neglect, and abuse, and grow up strong, even brutal. They—and their rocky, unembellished home furnished with rough wooden settles and pewter dishware—are explicitly contrasted to the delicate, spoiled Lintons and their prettified Thrushcross Grange, with its white plaster walls, crystal chandeliers, and plush, upholstered furniture.

The weak, delicate environment that breeds the Lintons leaves them unprepared for facing Catherine and Heathcliff. Isabella, especially, has been deluded by romantic fantasies formed by privilege to believe that Heathcliff loves her as a Byronic hero in literature might. Catherine and Heathcliff, however, having grown up in the pressure cooker of Wuthering Heights where illusions are stripped away, share a love that is deeper and more elemental, harsher and more lasting than anything the more civilized Lintons can experience.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë is a fundamentally Gothic novel. One of the standard devices of this genre is to create an emotional mood through the use of picturesque landscape. This notion of landscape as reflecting the emotions of characters is sometimes known as the "pathetic fallacy" by literary critics, as nature does not actually respond to our moods. Nonetheless, it is a technique not intended to be accurate but emotionally evocative. 

In particular, the local windy and inhospitable microclimate surrounding the house is intended to suggest the character of those who live within it, including their erratic behavior, strong passions, and unhappiness. The use of the house's name in the title emphasizes that the protagonists of the novel and the plot have an emotional center in this house rather than Thrushcross Grange. 

The term "wuthering" is an actual word meaning windy or blustering weather. It is, however, not a common term but rather one associated with Yorkshire dialect, and thus it serves to localize the novel. The narrator mentions this in the following passage:

Wuthering Heights is the name of Mr. Heathcliff's dwelling. 'Wuthering' being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

As is usually the case with authors, Bronte chose her novel's title carefully. The title actually represents more than one important aspect of the novel.

The setting of Wuthering Heignts is the northern English moors, a rough, inhospitable climate prone to the harshest of winters.  The house by the same name sits high on a hill near some rocky crags.  The word "wuthering" means, as Lockwood tells us, being prone to "...atmospheric tumult...in stormy weather" (Bronte). The area is pummeled by high winds throughout most of the year.

As a result, the architecture of the house must be such that can deflect the wind's damage.  Deeply inset windows and jutted corners are two examples; this particular architecture can make the house appear dark and cold, both outside and inside.

The windy, stormy weather and the necessary architecture reflect of the lives of the family who lives inside.  Their relationships and situations are stormy and dark, just as their home and setting are stormy and dark, as contrasted with neighboring Thrushcross Grange, situated in a grassy, lower-lying area. Thus the reader is focused on the harsher setting and asked to consider its effect on the inhabitants of the home.

 

 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial