Wuthering Heights


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(1847)





This story is narrated by Lockwood, a gentleman visiting the Yorkshire moors where the novel is set, and of Mrs Dean, housekeeper to the Earnshaw family, who had been witness of the interlocked destinies of the original owners of the Heights. In a series of flashbacks and time shifts, Brontë draws a powerful picture of the enigmatic Heathcliff, who is brought to Heights from the streets of Liverpool by Mr Earnshaw. Heathcliff is treated as Earnshaw's own children, Catherine and Hindley. After his death Heathcliff is bullied by Hindley, who loves Catherine, but she marries Edgar Linton. Heathcliff 's destructive force is unleashed, and his first victim is Catherine, who dies giving birth to a girl, another Catherine. Isabella Linton, Edgar's sister, whom he had married, flees to the south. Their son Linton and Catherine are married, but always sickly Linton dies. Hareton, Hindley's son, and the young widow became close. Increasingly isolated and alienated from daily life, Heathcliff experiences visions, and he longs for the death that will reunite him with Catherine.



Unlike most novels, Wuthering Heights' protagonists are anti-heroes; the very antithesis of what a hero is supposed to be. Instead of compassionate and heroic, Heathcliff and Catherine are selfish and petty. Instead of being blissfully in love, Catherine marries someone else and breaks Heathcliff's heart. Too proud to tell each other their true feelings, they fight, storm and rage against each other, destroying themselves in the process. Most people dislike this novel, for its gloomy perspective, tragic outcome and psychological drama. However, Catherine and Heathcliff are perhaps more realistic than most other novel characters claim to be. They not only make mistakes, they cause debacles, completely devastate both people and places and ruin it all by blaming solely themselves. The novel begins when all four, including the narrator and housekeeper, are children. Catherine and Hindley are true blooded siblings, and Heathcliff is sort of "adopted" into their family. The plot unravels, and with it, the characters, blooming into bitterness and pride simply by being dishonest with each other. The entire drama is a destruction of a human soul; how love can save and damn one man. Brontë brings in a whole new perspective on love. It isn't the epic ballad in tales, or the beautiful quiet bloom between spouses; this is rampant, tragic and interbred with other less desirable qualities until it is no longer recognizable until the very end.--Submitted by Leyla Shakew



An orphan brought home by a father to Wuthering Heights - a large rustic home on the moors - becomes a member of the family with complex emotional relationships with the father and his own children, Catherine and Hinton. The orphan, Heathcliff, finds his life totally changed after the father dies and Catherine makes friends with the refined Linton children of neighboring Thrushwood Grange. Entangled loves, marriages, sicknesses, births and deaths continue the dark story.--Submitted by Aloe



One day in the 1770s, widower Mr Earnshaw comes back from town with a new brother for his children: a small, black boy whom he calls Heathcliff. Hindley, the son of the household, is not pleased, but Catherine, his sister, finds a playmate in this harsh boy. However, things will change severely when old Earnshaw dies and Hindley takes over the household with his wife. As Heathcliff is more and more reduced to servitude, Catherine becomes aware that she and Heathcliff will never be able to keep themselves if they marry and she accepts the proposal of an Edgar Linton, the wealthy owner of the nearby Thrushcross Grange. On a stormy night, Heathcliff walks off after hearing Catherine say that it would be a degradation to be married to him. He returns three years later wealthy and longing for revenge. Doing just that, he leaves a trace of disease, dissipation and violence behind him. At the crucial stage, though, everything is compromised and the novel ends with a note of bliss after all the gloom. Wuthering Heights is known for its great setting on the moors that were so important to its writer and for the extremity of Heathcliff as Byronic Hero. Although the work is bleak in places, it does not depress, certainly not if read to the end. A fantastic, un-Victorian and imaginative work that is embedded in English folk-tradition and literature.--Submitted by kiki1982



Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte’s only novel, is a harrowing tale of passion and tragedy with a sunny ending. This gothic book entwines romantic and eerie threads to form the ultimate heart-throbber. The story is told by two characters in the sidelines: Mr. Lockwood, the new tenant of the Grange, and Mrs. Dean, an old servant of the Earnshaw family. It recounts the saga of two star-crossed lovers, Heathcliff-a gypsy boy rescued from the streets of London by Mr. Earnshaw-and Catherine Earnshaw, Mr. Earnshaw’s daughter. Catherine’s older brother Hindley cruelly tyrannizes over Heathcliff after Mr. Earnshaw’s death, treating him worse than a servant. When Catherine becomes a woman and the suitors start calling, Heathcliff, destitute and illiterate due to Hindley’s cruelty, is no match for the rich and handsome Edgar Linton, owner of Thrushcross Grange. Heathcliff mysteriously disappears after overhearing Catherine’s low opinion of him, only to reappear two years later and disturb the married life of his love Catherine, who by now has become Mrs. Linton. The uncanny gypsy then spends the remainder of his unhappy life wreaking vengeance upon the multiple recipients who had hurt him in the past, including Catherine who killed them both by marrying for money. Wuthering Heights is the recounting of this tragic love story, and of happiness redeemed through the next generation.--Submitted by Constance de Montmorency


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Books in Wuthering Heights

Books play an important role in Wuthering Heights. Edgar Linton spends much of his time in his library. Mrs Dean has educated herself and thus made herself comprehensible to us by reading all the books in the Thrushcross Grange library, except the foreign language ones. Young Cathy Linton enjoys reading, although her mother not so much so. One of the young grooms risks his job in return for books. Joseph only reads the bible but it is very important to him. Lastly, Hareton attempts to educate himself by reading books, but throws them on the fire when he is scorned by Cathy. I have wondered about the value of books back then. Books were comparatively expensive while most people were comparatively poor. On the other hand, there were not as many sources of information or amusement. When reading introductions of classic literature, you often read something like: the first edition of 3000 copies sold out within a month, and a second publishing run of 5000 copies was... Those sorts of sales figures do not seem very high for a population of 20 million. I suppose that would be explained by their high cost. I read in the introduction to A Christmas Carol that the first edition sold for five shillings. The first edition sold out but still made a loss due to the high cost of production, due to it containing colour pictures I think. Five shillings seems to have been about a quarter of an average weekly wage, so quite a lot of money for a small book. I get the impression many books were sold in three volume formats, so that must have been expensive. I suspect Great Expectation's Pip and Edgar Linton's collections of books represented a large part of their expenditure. Luckily for Pip, I suspect their resale value was high. When Hareton threw his books on the fire, he was burning a fortune.


Artefacts

Hindley's knife-gun described by Isabella must have been something like this :eek2: http://images.ookaboo.com/photo/m/Coach_Gun_gm002_m.jpg I noticed in another chapter that Cathy Linton had a watch. That must have been very expensive in 1800.


Linton and Cathy's wedding

How did Heathcliff manage to force his son's wedding to Cathy? If I understand correctly, wedding banns would normally need to be read out in Cathy's church for three weeks before the wedding could take place. If anyone objected, the wedding could not take place. In Tess of the d'Urbervilles and Jane Eyre, the bridegroom avoided this process by applying for a marriage licence, but Linton Heathcliff is under the age of majority, so could he have done this? Surely it would have been highly unusual for a sixteen or seventeen-year-old woman to undergo a wedding without her parents' consent, especially when Cathy's father was a magistrate, and wealthy and well known member of the local establishment. In addition, the priest would surely ask Cathy whether she was marrying Linton of her own free will. Also, did Linton and Cathy ever consummate their marriage? Linton was so ill at the time, he may not have been up to it. If they never consummated the marriage then it could have been annulled, and neither Linton nor his father would get their hands on her property. This seems a real weak point in the plot.


Mortality rate in Wuthering Heights

If there's one thing I got from reading Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, it was the appalling mortality rate back then. I suppose the Brontės may have been more sickly than average, but the death rate of natural causes in those books must have been plausible at the time. iirc, the ages and causes of death were as follows: Name................Age......Cause of death Mrs Earnshaw......40-55....n/k Mr Earnshaw.......40-55....n/k Mrs Linton...........40-55....fever Mr Linton............40-55....fever Frances..............20........consumption Catherine............21........childbirth after she had weakened herself with cold, hunger and self-neglect Hindley...............30?.......died of injuries resulting from a fight, or murder Issabella.............36........not stated, probably consumption Linton Heathcliff..16/17....consumption Heathcliff...........38.........starvation and exposure I was puzzled by the fever that carried off Mr and Mrs Linton. Catherine caught a fever after she had stayed out all night in the rain after Heathcliff ran away. The Lintons insisted Catherine convalesce with them, but sadly caught her fever and died. What sort of fever could that be? It was obviously infectious, but Catherine only developed it after she'd stayed out all night in the bad weather.


Linton Heathcliff

Poor young Linton, he did not get much sympathy. Even the author did not seem to like him much. Yet the description of his illness was as bleak as anything. He was a PITA and had numerous personality faults. However, can you imagine what it is to be like to be a teenager, who instead of being able to look forward to adulthood, independence, marriage and a family, knows he is going to die soon? Horrifically, this must have been a situation in which a lot of young people found themselves back then. Presumably Linton was suffering from tuberculosis. Emily Brontė watched her two oldest sisters die of the disease, and she herself died of the disease only a year or two after her book was published. No doubt, Emily Brontė was suffering from the same symptoms she was describing in Linton while writing her book, or at least anticipated that she would suffer them soon. It is strange therefore that she is so harsh on Linton. Nelly, who is usually a sympathetic character, does not feel much pity for him. Joesph ignores his complaints of cold while sitting in front of a roaring fire, eating oatcakes, in another room. Hareton will not hit him, and on one occasion carries him to his room, but abuses him frequently and otherwise has little sympathy for him. Heathcliff, needless to say, is pitiless to him. It seems Heathcliff is prepared to hit a dying lad, who is his own son. The only person who shows any kindness is young Cathy, who probably has the biggest heart of anyone in the book. Perhaps it is part of Emily Brontė's inversion of the normal hero or heroine's personality attributes. EB persuades you to empathize with heroes who are entirely selfish, although they are charismatic, willful and strong. In contrast, I suppose in most 19th century literature you would be expected to sympathize with a character who was very sick, disabled or dying, but not Linton Heathcliff.


Is Wuthering Heights a proto-vampire story

I was just wondering whether Wuthering Heights was some sort of proto-vampire book when in the last chapter Nelly herself wonders whether Heathcliff is a ghoul or a vampire. I was surprised as I did not think vampires had been discovered till later. I have not watched any of the Twilight films (and I don't intend to neither) but it struck me there were some similarities between Wuthering Heights, Twilight, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and other vampire films and television series. Heathcliff can stand bright sunlight; bibles, wooden crosses, garlic and holy water might annoy him but would not be sufficient to ward him off; and although driving a wooden stake through his heart would kill him, so would other methods of execution. However, there are some similarities: Heathcliff is evil (like most vampires). Heathcliff and Catherine continue to walk the Earth after death and do not find rest. Heathcliff has no hope of salvation, neither does he want it. Heathcliff's idea of heaven is close to torment. Heathcliff's love for Catherine is eternal (rather like some vampire love stories). Heathcliff's love for Catherine is rather chaste. Heathcliff is tall, strong, rather dark with long, black hair. Heathcliff forms one point of a love triangle with Catherine as the apex (a bit like Twilight I believe).


Weird, very morbid bit in chap xxix

This bit from chapter xxix is a bit weird: "I'll tell you what I did yesterday! I got the sexton, who was digging Linton's grave, to remove the earth off her coffin-lid, and I opened it. I thought, once, I would have stayed there; when I saw her face again - it is hers yet! - he had hard work to stir me; but he said it would change if the air blew on it, and so I struck one side of the coffin loose, and covered it up - not Linton's side, damn him! I wish he'd been soldered in lead. And I bribed the sexton to pull it away when I'm laid there, and slide mine out too; I'll have it made so; and then, by the time Linton gets to us he'll not know which is which!" This is quite a complicated passage. What's Heathcliff doing? The gravedigger was burying Edgar Linton next to his dead wife, Catherine. He gets the gravedigger to uncover Catherine's coffin. He opens her coffin :shocked: He discovers Catherine's face has not decomposed :ack2: He loosens one side of Catherine's coffin, the other side to where Edgar is being laid. He bribes the gravedigger so that when Heathcliff dies he will bury Heathcliff the other side of Catherine and then remove the two facing sides of their coffins so that in effect they share the same coffin. I am not sure what Heathcliff means when he says, "...by the time Linton gets to us he'll not know which is which!" I assume he means Edgar Linton, not Linton Heathcliff. Edgar Linton is dead though, so presumably he means he won't know which is which at the resurrection. But that does not make much sense, since at the resurrection it would be pretty obvious which is Heathcliff and which is Catherine. Maybe it was a strange joke. I can see why Wuthering Heights is described as gothic.


Character names

Remembering who is who in WH is more tricky than in most most books. This was surely deliberate but for what purpose? TBH I don't have too much difficulty keeping track of the characters, but I do have to think sometimes. Heathcliff is Heathcliff, and he has only has one name; however: Next to Heathcliff there is a Hindley and a Hareton. There are two Cathy's, Catherine the mother and Cathy the younger (I think). Catherine Earnshaw becomes Catherine Linton. Cathy Linton becomes Cathy Heathcliff (I presume) Isabella Linton becomes Isabella Heathcliff. Isabella names her son Linton Heathcliff. Ellen Dean is often called Nelly Dean. At least the older and younger Cathy are easily distinguishable, due to their different personalities and only one of them being alive at a time. Linton Heathcliff is also easily distinguishable from Mr Heathcliff. The other characters all seem to have very distinct names. Joseph cannot be confused with anyone else. Dr Kenneth (or is it Mr) is very distinct. Mrs Zillah, the housekeeper at WH has a very unusual name. I do not remember meeting anyone with a surname beginning with Z. Surely EB's naming strategy was not accidental.


Mr Linton's will (WH)

Heathcliff's long act of revenge on Edgar Linton depends on him getting control of his house, Thrushcross Grange. Heathcliff marries Issabella Linton who is next in line to inherit if her brother Edgar dies. According to chapter XXI, Heathcliff tells Nelly that he hopes his son Linton marries Edgar's daughter Cathy so that they will inherit Thrushcross Grange. Nelly says that if Linton dies, Cathy would inherit. Heathcliff contradicts her, saying there was no clause in the will to secure it so the property would go to him, being Issabella's widower. This seems very strange: Heathcliff has told Nelly twice that he intends to get hold of Thrushcross Grange, why hasn't she passed on this information to Edgar Linton? In whose will is the inheritance of Thrushcross Grange set out? Edgar Linton is the owner of the property, so why can't he change the will? Isn't the succession a bit unusual? Normally the property would go to the oldest male heir, but if the owner only had a daughter, it would go to her not the sister. Since Edgar Linton would surely detest the idea of Heathcliff getting hold of his property, why doesn't he remarry and try for a son? How is it that Heathcliff seems to know the particulars of the will, but Edgar Linton does not? Edgar seems oblivious to it. If the property would come to Heathcliff in the event of Edgar Linton's death, why does he even care whether his son Linton Heathcliff marries Cathy Linton? This plot of revenge by Heathcliff is a very long game. Surely there is a lot that can go wrong. The property inheritance right reminds me of Pride and Prejudice, in which the plot partly depends on the fact that the family home will be passed to the next male heir when the father dies, leaving them potentially homeless. However, unfair as that is, it sounds more customary for the time. What gave these property inheritance rights their legal force?


Why doesn't Edgar re-marry?

The mortality rate is pretty high in WH, especially among the wives. Why doesn't Edgar re-marry after Catherine dies? Surely he must have wanted a male heir to prevent his property coming into possession of his enemy. I wondered why Hindley didn't try and re-marry after his wife died, but maybe he was becoming to dependent on alcohol by then. Heathcliff cannot re-marry for a long time, because he is separated rather than divorced or widowed, but I presume he never attempted to re-marry once she had died. Nelly says to Heathcliff about Linton that he's the only kin he'll ever have, well why? Heathcliff is hardly an old man. None of them appear to have mistresses neither. It seems as if hardly anyone up there is interested in sex.


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