Reviewing Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

The place names and characters in WH …

 Wuthering Heights (Earnshaw) v Thrushcorft Grange (Linton)

passionate hard brutal v comfortable soft refined

 Earnshaw

The children …

Hindley, Cathy – Heathercliff (Foundling)

Relationships …

Hindley–Francis (an outsider) > Hareton (son)

Heathecliff–Isabella > Linton (son)

 Linton

The children …

Edgar, Isablella

Relationships …

Edgar–Cathy > Catherine (daughter)

Isabella–Heathcliff  > Linton (son)

 Ellen Dean … housekeeper to both families at different times and one of the narrators

Lockwood … tenant of the Grange after control by Heathcliff … the second narrator of the story … a southern who would not understand the intensity of the wild north family

Other … Joseph, Zillah … W Heights

Note the apt choice of names … and initials …

It was common for the mother Catherine to become Cathy and the daughter to take the name Catherine.

The HC combination in the first generation  … then the forced revenge marriage of what was in fact a Linton marrying Linton in (Linton and Catherine) and then ending with some hope in the final relationship HC (Hareton – Catherine) in the second generation.

Reviewing the Book 

Wuthering … a local word meaning atmospheric tumult.

The book may be difficult to read perhaps because there are two narrators and that there are breaks in the ‘time windows’ described. Actual windows play an important part … from Lockwood’s nightmare when forced to stay the night at the Heights … the children looking into the window of the Grange …to Lockwood looking into the window at the Heights at the end of the novel. The family relationships are quite simple and have a well-crafted and designed symmetry (see above).

The novel covers a 25 year period in two distinct parts before Cathy Earnshaw’s (Linton after marriage) death and then the life of the second generation after Cathy’s death. The first part establishes the foundation of the wild love between Heathcliff and Cathy, her ‘bad decision’ to marry Edgar. Then the return of a prosperous but revengeful Heathercliff and the dramatic effect this had on both households.

The remainder of the book deals with the influence of Heathcliff on the second generation. His revengeful acts both by his marriage to Isabella. Then the naming of his son Linton the dominance of Linton’s life and Heathcliff’s reciprocating ill-treatment on Hareton after the death of Francis after his own ill-treatment by Hindley. Heathcliff helps the destruction of Hindley by drink. He forces the marriage of Catherine to Linton to get control on the Grange but after the death of Linton when Catherine develops her relationship with Hareton he curtails his original resentment.

It is the age-old story of humanity connected to nature and the coming to terms with the different aspects of the human condition. The differences and the fragilities are set against the wild environment. The final integration of the two families (Catherine and Hareton) in a sort of happiness provides a calm – that is before the arrival of the next storm of course – hopefully not such as dramatic as the foundling Heathcliff.

The wild moors and the spiritual world is integrated in the characters … especially Catherine (Cathy) Earnshaw (Linton) … and after her death she haunts the rest of the book and becomes a ghost obsessive to the thoughts of the revengeful Heathercliff.

Some comments on Emily Bronte

Nature pervades all her writing … a longing to be connected to the forces of nature … her characters representatives of eternal truths.

Expressing high emotion in precise symbol and image is evident throughout the prose and poetry of Emily Bronte.

The open freedom of the moors was essential to Emily’s happiness and creativity. Writings involved themes of liberty and repression.

Charlotte in her memoir to the1850 editions of WH states … Liberty was the breath of Emily’s nostrils

Stronger than a man, simpler that a child her nature stood alone … Charlotte on her sister.

In her own family Emily supported the wayward brother Branwell when other family gave up on his misdemeanours.

She was influenced by the literary figures of her day … especially Byron and Scott.”

My favourite poem by Emily Bronte – ‘No Coward Soul is Mine’.

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