Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Wuthering Heights book cover
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What are the symbols of the conflict between good and evil in the novel? I have the houses already of course but what else is there?

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Vivianne Deckow eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Wuthering Heights is full of dualities in themes, settings, characters, and symbols.  As the other editor has said, I would classify the symbols are "wild" vs. "civilized" rather than "good" vs. "evil":

  • Man is civilized, the devil is wild.  “Is Mr. Heathcliff a man?  If so, is he mad?  And if not, is he a devil?”
  • Edgar's affection for Catherine is civilized, but Heathcliff's love for her is wild
  • The ghost of Catherine in Part I is considered good, or at least harmless, while Heathcliff in Part II is considered evil: ("like the devil").
  • The moors are considered wild, while the estates are considered civilized.
  • The exposed Wuthering Heights high on the moors is considered "good" by Romantic sensibilities, while the sheltered calm of Thrushcross Grange is considered, be default, as "bad"
  • There is much animal imagery that suggests wildness--which is usually bad: "rabid dog"
  • Weather is usually wild: violent storms
  • Doors and windows can be both: a closed door or window shows wildness, but an open one shows peace.
  • Love is good, while revenge is evil.
  • Death is considered wild, while life in the Linton house is considered civilized

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jmj616 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I really don't think that Wuthering Heights is about the struggle between good and evil. 

Although Heathcliff is pretty darn nasty, it's hard to see him as evil incarnate; he's more a case of a person overcome by obsessive love and jealousy.

Catherine (the elder) is certainly no saint with her two-timing of Heathcliff and Linton.  Edgar Linton is a decent fellow, but a whiner, at least in his youth.  Catherine (the daughter) is at times deliberately cruel to Hareton.  Her cousin, Linton Heathcliff, is a pathetic crybaby who is an accomplice to Heathcliff's plot to kidnap Catherine and Nelly.

The only character whom I truly admire is Nelly.  She is caring, loyal, and intelligent.

I suppose you can look at Wuthering Heights as a symbol of evil and Thrushcross Grange as a symbol of good.  I, however, would prefer to see them as symbols of decay and civilization, respectively. 

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