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Wuthering Heights

by Emily Brontë

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Last Updated on April 23, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 783


A region comprising three English counties—North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, and South Yorkshire—in northern central England. The properties of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange are located in this region of Yorkshire’s lonely, wild, and sparsely populated moors. The moors are characterized by spacious, open grassland and the heather that grows abundantly throughout the region.

Wuthering Heights

The estate of the Earnshaw family located on England’s Yorkshire moors. Wuthering Heights is described by Mr. Lockwood, a tenant at neighboring Thrushcross Grange, as desolate and the ideal home of a misanthropist. Lockwood explains that “wuthering” is a local word used to describe the tumultuous and stormy conditions that are common at Wuthering Heights. The house itself seems dark and forbidding, with a decidedly Gothic physical and spiritual atmosphere. Upon entering the gates of Wuthering Heights for the first time, Lockwood points out its general state of disrepair, especially noting the carvings of griffins at the threshold. Mr. Lockwood also observes that Heathcliff appears as a gentleman, in sharp contrast to the house itself, while the young Catherine Linton Heathcliff appears wild and untamed. He finds in time, though, that in reality the opposite is true.

As the novel progresses and the house passes from one owner to the next, in and out of the Earnshaw family, it is evident that the physical state of the house is somehow connected with the emotional state of its inhabitants. While the elder Mr. and Mrs. Earnshaw live, the house retains a more civilized feeling, but as first Hindley Earnshaw and then Heathcliff obtain ownership, the atmosphere of the house becomes darker and more brooding. Like Heathcliff, the current master of the property, the house steadily deteriorates until the height of its disrepair is described by Mr. Lockwood, who has rented Thrushcross Grange near the end of Heathcliff’s term of ownership.


A major port city in western England. When Hindley and Catherine Earnshaw are young children, their father goes to Liverpool on business. He returns with a young and untamed boy, a homeless child he found in the streets of Liverpool and was unable to leave behind. No one in Liverpool knew who the homeless child was or where he came from, though he was thought by many in Liverpool to be a gypsy. The foundling boy is named for a former inhabitant of Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff, the name of the elder Earnshaws’ dead infant son.


A fictional village near Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. The village plays a minor, though integral, role in the novel. Heathcliff returns first to Gimmerton before he reappears at Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange after his three-year absence. Near the end of the novel, when the young Catherine Linton and Ellen Dean are held hostage by Heathcliff at Wuthering Heights, the people of Gimmerton are enlisted to join in the search for them in the Yorkshire moors.

Thrushcross Grange

The home of the Linton family, the nearest neighboring estate to Wuthering Heights. In stark contrast to the dark and forbidding Wuthering Heights, the Grange is lighter and more orderly, a home filled with windows and fresh air. Even the willful and wild Catherine Earnshaw changes markedly when, as a girl, she stays for a few weeks at this location. The atmosphere of Thrushcross Grange does much to tame the formerly unrefined girl.

Like Wuthering Heights, Thrushcross Grange passes from the hands of the elder generation, Mr. and Mrs. Linton, to those of a younger generation, first to their son Edgar and later to his daughter Catherine. In the process, as opposed to Wuthering Heights, the atmosphere of the house becomes increasingly refined and civilized. Even the marriage of Edgar Linton of Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights’ Catherine Earnshaw does little to change the more civilized atmosphere of Thrushcross Grange. However, though Catherine’s high spirits are held in check during the first days of her marriage to Edgar, the reappearance of Heathcliff does begin to affect the emotional state of all those who live at Thrushcross Grange. It is only when Thrushcross Grange falls into the hands of Heathcliff, who has gained ownership of the Heights through the marriage of his son Linton to young Catherine, that it begins to fall into a state of relative disrepair. It is this condition in which Mr. Lockwood finds Thrushcross Grange at the beginning of the novel.

By the end of the novel, young Catherine inherits Thrushcross Grange and Hareton Earnshaw inherits Wuthering Heights. The marriage of Catherine Linton Heathcliff and Hareton Earnshaw, then, unites the two houses in one well-matched and happy marriage. Finally, both the houses and the people who live in them can begin the process of physical and spiritual healing.

Literary Style

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Last Updated on April 23, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 543


The power of Wuthering Heights owes much to its complex narrative structure and to the ingenious device of having two conventional people relate a very unconventional tale. The story is organized as a narrative within a narrative, or what some critics call "Chinese boxes." Lockwood is used to open and end the novel in the present tense, first person ("I"). When he returns to Thrushcross Grange from his visit to Wuthering Heights sick and curious, Nelly cheerfully agrees to tell him about his neighbors. She picks up the narrative and continues it, also in the first person, almost until the end, with only brief interruptions by Lockwood. The critic David Daiches notes in his introduction of Wuthering Heights the "fascinating counterpoint" of "end retrospect and present impression," and that the strength of the story relies on Nelly's familiarity with the main characters.


The novel is set in the Yorkshire moors of England, even now a bleakly beautiful, sparsely populated area of high rolling grassy hills, few trees, and scattered rocky outcroppings or patches of heather. The lowlands between the hills are marshy. The weather is changeable and, because the area is so open, sometimes wild. The exposed location of Wuthering Heights high on the moors is contrasted with the sheltered calm of Thrushcross Grange, which is nestled in a soft valley. Both seats reflect the characters of those who inhabit them. The descriptions of both houses also reflect the influence of the local architecture at the time of Bronte's writing, which often incorporated a material called grit stone.

Images and Symbolism

Emily Bronte's poetic vision is evident in the imagery used throughout Wuthering Heights. Metaphors of nature and the animal kingdom are pervasive. For example, the first Catherine describes Heathcliff to Isabella as "an arid wilderness of furze and whinstone," and as Catherine lies dying, Heathcliff foams "like a mad dog." References to weather are everywhere. A violent storm blows up the night Mr. Earnshaw dies; rain pours down the night Heathcliff runs off to London and again the night of his death. There are many scenes of raw violence, such as the bulldog attacking Catherine and Isabella crushing her wedding ring with a poker. The supernatural is evoked in the many references to Heathcliff as diabolical (literally, "like the devil") and the descriptions of the ghost of the first Catherine Linton. David Daiches points out in his introduction to Wuthering Heights that the references to food and fire, and to what he calls domestic routine, help "to steady" the story and to give credibility to the passion.


One of the major strengths of Wuthering Heights is its formal organization The design of the time structure has significance both for its use of two narrators and because it allows the significant events in the novel to be dated precisely, though dates are almost never given explicitly. The triangular relationship that existed between Heathcliff, Catherine, and Edgar is repeated in Heathcliff's efforts to force young Catherine to marry Linton, though its resolution is ultimately different. On his arrival at Wuthering Heights, Lockwood sees the names "Catherine Earnshaw, Catherine Linton, Catherine Heathcliff scratched into the windowsill. In marrying Hareton, young Catherine Heathcliff will in turn become Catherine Earnshaw, thus completing the circle.

Literary Techniques

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 460

Wuthering Heights has an interesting construction. There are actually two narrators — a male and a female — who filter the action of the story, which has a tendency to create distance from the main characters and at the same time to give a feeling of authenticity and "realism" to the story.

The first narrator is Mr. Lockwood, the new tenant at Thrushcross Grange. When he comes in 1801, he is naturally quite interested in the owner and the history of the place. He begins by asking questions and bit by bit learns about the people. When he becomes ill, he has enough time on his hands to quiz his housekeeper, Ellen Dean, at length about the people in the two houses.

Ellen, who is the female narrator, used to be part of the household at Wuthering Heights. Ellen readily reveals the secrets of the occupants of the houses and tells the intertwined history and stories of the Linton, Earnshaw, and Heathcliff families.

Having two narrators allows the author to play with time. Bronte can begin the dramatic story in "real time" (i.e. the present) and then go back in time to a place where the main characters were young. She skillfully compresses and expands time almost like an accordion to create dramatic tension. The story progresses in a linear fashion, broken by a break in the action when Mr. Lockwood goes up to London. Upon his return he learns the story of Heathcliff's death, and Hareton and Cathy's possession of Wuthering Heights.

In addition to using the technique of two narrators, Bronte has constructed her novel so that it is a story within a story. The story begins and ends with kind of a ghost story. The first ghost story transpires on the night when Mr. Lockwood is forced to stay at Wuthering Heights in Catherine Earnshaw's room. He hears weeping and feels an ice-cold hand which turns out to belong to Catherine Earnshaw. Heathcliff rushes in and tells him part of the story. The novel also ends with the story about how the ghosts of Heathcliff and Catherine are seen on the moors at night. These two ghostly tales neatly frame the "real world story" of these two people whose emotions made them all too human while they were alive.

The other technique that Bronte uses brilliantly deals with having many characters with similar names. It is almost impossible to keep these characters apart: Catherine I and Catherine II; Hindley, Hareton, Heathcliff; Linton and Lockwood. Although each character is distinct, the edges blur around their personalities and their physical appearances. This is probably intentional. Each character is in kind of an evolutionary stage. The dominant characters — Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff — and their passions color and taint all the other characters.

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