Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Wuthering Heights book cover
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What are some examples of literary elements (conflict, theme, etc.) in Wuthering Heights?

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mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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What makes Wuthering Heights such an outstanding work of fiction is its blend of concreteness with abstraction. For instance, the familiar narration of Nelly who provides dates and exact details mixes with the almost preternatural nature of Catherine and Heathcliff's relationship.  And, while Heathcliff is described often with animal imagery as, for example, "a mad dog," he is yet perceived as possessing supernatural attributes, being likened to "the devil." 

This trope of forces working against each other is also evidenced in the theme of the destructiveness of love. Nelly condemns the love of Heathcliff and Catherine, yet it is the strongest and most compelling force in the novel. In fact, it is the cause of the major conflicts of the novel.  With this theme again comes Bronte's characteristic ambiguity as the reader is unsure of whether the author is depicting Catherine and Heathcliff as romantic heroes or as some type of naturalistic destructive force.  In fact, it is this ambiguity that makes Bronte's novel so intriguing with the dual nature of various elements and blend of the literary genres of Romanticism, Realism, and Naturalism.


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mstultz72 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Wuthering Heights blends the genres of Romanticism, Naturalism, and Realism together to achieve a balance between the three.  The novel is rich in Romantic imagery and characterization: nature as good, Heathcliff as a Byronic hero, mystery and ghosts, unbridled passion, and consequences of unrequited love (revenge).

The novel also deals with the Naturalistic/Realistic themes of social class barriers, gender differences, and geography.  The narration of Nelly seems very realistic, as it is modest, plain-spoken, and objective.  Though, we often doubt her motivations (is she in love with Heathcliff or not?).

The novel is a great example of doubling, doppelgangers, foils, and dualities.  It is two novels in one.  It has two narrators, two Catherines, two Heathcliffs (hero and villain), and two settings (Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange).  And a lot of rabid dogs.  In this way, it is a forerunner for the Gothic psychological horror tales.

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udonbutterfly | Student

The setting of Wuthering Heights would be early 1800's in Yorkshire around the Victorian era. However the core of the story, between Heathcliff and Catherine, happen around the late 1700's.

A good theme that is seen throughout Wuthering Heights would be revenge. Heathcliff is on this never ending tirade of revenge that he even harms his own son to achieve it. However when he achieves this master plan of revenge he is still left miserable and not the least satisfied. So was revenge really worth it in the end?

There is also a lot of symbolism going on in Wuthering heights you just have to read in between the lines. The ghost of Catherine that Lockwood mentions to seeing would symbolize the last impression that she has had on the future even though she is dead. Also there is also the rainstorms that always symbolize trouble. it rained when Heathcliff ran away and stormed when little Catherine was made to stay at Wuthering Heights and be forced into marriage

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