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Wuthering Heights

by Emily Brontë

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What is the significance of the title Wuthering Heights?

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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.

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The first explanation of Wuthering Heights is given by Mr. Lockwood, who says,

"Wuthering" [is] 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.

This shows that Wuthering Heights is a place of extreme, harsh weather that leaves the landscape "stunted" by its force, as well as sharp and thorny, craving the scant sunlight. This description of the landscape serves as a metaphor for how the harsh, dysfunctional Earnshaw family living in Wuthering Heights stunts people like Catherine and Heathcliff, making them unusually "thorny," hard, and difficult people.

Later, when Lockwood asks Mrs. Dean about whether the Earnshaws are an old family, she says yes, and they discuss Heathcliff. A product of the rough environment of the isolated moors, he is, according to Nelly,

Rough as a saw-edge, and hard as whinstone! The less you meddle with him the better.

Wuthering Heights is also a name intimately connected with the moors. People on the moors, Nelly says again, are different from others, stronger, hardier, and more self reliant, because of the circumstances that have formed them. Both Catherine and Heathcliff, who spend so much time on the "wuthering" or windy moors, are "wild" children, according to Nelly.

Finally, Catherine shows the extent to which she is joined to the harsh, "wuthering" moors when she says to Nelly that she does not wish to go to a gentle heaven. She states,

I was only going to say that heaven did not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out into the middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights; where I woke sobbing for joy.

The formation the moors and Wuthering Heights offer set Catherine and Heathcliff apart. As Catherine goes on to explain to Nelly, she is different from people like Edgar, who are softer and more gentle because they have not had to face the harsh circumstances that she and Heathcliff have. The much more conventional Edgar is like the changeable foliage to her, while Heathcliff is, like her, made of the sterner rock of the moors.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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What does the title Wuthering Heights symbolize?

The title Wuthering Heights symbolizes contrasting themes of freedom and nature versus darkness and gloom. Initially, it symbolizes joy in the beauty of the outdoors and nature unfettered from materialism. Conversely, it also symbolizes the often bleak state of nature and its potential dangers amid stormy conditions.

While Mr. Earnshaw is alive, Wuthering Heights is a family homestead. However, after his death, Wuthering Heights symbolizes darkness and gloom, like the moors on which it is built often can be. As the “wuthering” in the name suggests, it symbolizes gusty winds and the dangers of nature.

Wuthering means characterized by strong winds, and heights means atop or maximum. The name itself tells of the inhospitable nature of the house, which was once a home but has become a cold, desolate structure in which there is no warmth or kindness.

Yet, early in the story, as Cathy and Heathcliff become inseparable, the location of the house at the height of the moors represents freedom to them and liberty from the materialism and classism that Cathy begins to yearn for at the Linton home.

Once Cathy leaves, Wuthering Heights truly becomes a cold, desolate place. Just as the moors can be characterized by stormy gales and craggy rocks, Wuthering Heights becomes inhospitable to human kindness and reflects the stormy darkness of its master, Heathcliff. The violence and fury that nature can unleash on the moors also characterize Wuthering Heights, as it reflects Heathcliff’s increasingly dark nature and violent temperament.

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What does the title Wuthering Heights symbolize?

The title Wuthering Heights refers to the Earnshaw family home, built by an ancestor called Hareton Earnshaw around 1500.

The house represents many things in the novel. Firstly, it is the childhood home of Heathcliff and Catherine, the place where they lived as siblings, before Hindley's abuse and Catherine's engagement to the refined Edgar Linton drove Heathcliff away. For the star-crossed lovers, Wuthering Heights is a haven, a reminder of the wild joys of their childhood before class divisions drove them apart. Other characters do not associate Wuthering Heights with joy. For Isabella Linton and, later, Cathy Linton, Wuthering Heights is a prison, where abuse is a daily occurrence.

Heathcliff's ownership of the house illustrates his obsession with the past and especially with Catherine. He covets the house not only to get revenge on Hindley but also because it was the one place where he was allowed to be happy as a boy.

The title of the house is also significant: the term "wuthering" suggests bad weather and rain, apt symbols for the tempestuous relationship between Catherine and Heathcliff, or the passions which drive all the characters to desperate, cruel behavior.

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What does the title Wuthering Heights symbolize?

Wuthering Heights, and the house it is named after, symbolizes Heathcliff. Wuthering Heights is situated on the dark and gloomy moors, which mirror Heathcliff's character. Heathcliff, an orphaned boy from Liverpool, was an unmannered child, wild in spirit and quick to anger. Though he was taken into the family by Mr. Earnshaw, he is always treated as an outsider, especially by Hindley Earnshaw. Heathcliff is only kind to Mr. Earnshaw and his daughter Catherine, who are deeply fond of him.

Heathcliff grows up to be a sullen, rude, and jealous man. After Cathy marries Edgar Linton and dies early in their marriage, Heathcliff's negative character traits worsen. He becomes obsessed with seeking revenge on the Linton and Earnshaw families. Like the inhospitable moors, Heathcliff traps Cathy's daughter (also named Cathy)—he locks her into a marriage to his son Hareton, and her living situation at Wuthering Heights is close to unbearable. Thus, Heathcliff's moodiness and rugged character parallel the harsh wilderness of the moors and the forlorn place Wuthering Heights became when he assumed ownership of the house.

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What does the title Wuthering Heights symbolize?

The title Wuthering Heights is symbolic of the characters and relationships in the novel.  

First of all, the title of the novel symbolizes the setting in which the house of the same name is situated. Wuthering Heights is set in 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." The area is pummeled by high winds throughout most of the year.

As a result, the house looks and feels harsh, cold and stormy. The architecture used to deflect the wind's damage symbolizes this depressing mood. 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 suggested by the word "wuthering" also symbolizes the lives of the family who live 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 with happier residents.

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