Wuthering Heights Themes

  • Created by: Zoe
  • Created on: 16-05-13 18:26
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  • Themes in Wuthering Heights
    • Love
      • Central the novel
        • Cathy's choice between Heathcliff and Edgar
          • 'I love all his looks'
          • 'As everybody loves'
          • 'It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff'
          • 'the greatest woman of the neighbourhood'
          • 'I can aid Heathcliff to rise'
      • Explored from a number of perspectives
        • Domestic
          • Interesting how the domestic 'ideal' is thwarted by illness and death
            • 'her perilous illness'
            • 'I want to frighten him'
            • 'I'll try to break their hearts by breaking my own'
            • 'assumed the aspect of death'
        • Maternal
        • Social
          • '...need not witness the sight of your welcoming a runaway servant as a brother'
            • Edgar's social role as 'the master' and dominant patriarch
        • Romantic
        • Religious
        • Transcendent
          • 'I am Heathcliff'
          • 'I cannot live without my soul'
          • 'Oh, my life!'
          • 'Whatever souls are made of, his and mine are the same'
          • 'my love for Heathcliff is...necessary'
      • Bronte fuses idealised romance with gothic fantasy and horror
        • 'dashing'
        • 'haunt me'
        • 'I won't rest until you are with me. I never will!'
      • Narcissism characterises Heathcliff and Isabella's relationship
      • Heathcliff's love of Cathy corrupts into a lust for revenge
        • His passion leads him to transgress powerful social taboos
          • 'I struck one side of the coffin loose'
          • 'disturb the dead'
      • When Cathy is unable to reconcile her passion for Heathcliff with her marriage to Edgar, she resorts to self destruction
        • 'I'll try to break their hearts by breaking my own'
        • 'grinding her teeth'
          • Gilbert and Gubar - insanity is a result of her imprisonment
            • 'stretched herself out stiff'
        • 'stretched herself out stiff'
        • 'ghastly countenance'
      • Explored through profoundest acts of violence
    • Nature and Culture
      • Represented through the two houses
        • Wuthering Heights = nature
        • Thrushcross Grange = culture
      • Nature often represented as brutal
        • 'Time stagnates here'
        • 'black frost'
      • As a man of culture, Lockwood is completely incapable of reading the signs of nature
        • 'I was sick exceedingly'
      • Nature is neither legible nor representable
      • Culture seen as equally dangerous and violent
      • Landscape linked to emotional state
      • Nature is hardly ever directly represented
        • Homans argues that indirect methods are used to repress nature's more threatening aspects
    • Morality
      • Conventional
        • Institutionalised
        • Joseph
          • The restrictive voice of the social convention that intrudes upon this house of nature
          • Regulates and judges
        • Pious, restrictive, domineering and legislative
      • Authenticity
        • Being true to yourself
          • 'Why am I so changed?'
          • Link with Identity
            • 'Catherine Earnshaw - Catherine Heathcliff - Catherine Linton'
            • 'I am Heathcliff'
        • Catherine's marriage to Edgar = extreme act of bad faith
      • Self interest
        • Nelly Dean
          • Withholds or reveals her knowledge
            • Seemingly arbitrary yet it invariably influences the novel's events
            • 'You knew your mistress's nature and you encouraged me to harass her'
            • 'And not to give me one hint of how she h she has been'
            • 'I will have some to exhibit to pap!'
            • 'my betrayal of her confidence'
    • Education
      • Denial of education is a form of social punishment and humiliation
        • 'degradation'
        • 'Oh, you dunce!'
      • Hareton learning to read has both positive and negative implications
        • On the one hand he acquires the social skills required for the union with Cathy
        • On the other hand he seems to lose power (incl. sexual power) in his submission to this option
          • Could be seen to repeat Catherine's coice to trade in authentic selfhood for social privilege
      • Lockwood prides himself on his educational standing, but repeatedly misreads his environment and companions
        • 'your amiable lady'
        • 'whatever relation he bore'
      • Reading dignifies Nelly Dean and gives her social status




This is beautiful Zoe. 

I love you forever <3

Former Member


At this point in time you are my God.



A useful resource that identifies the main themes of the novel; use the ideas identified to explore the gothic genre and how these themes represent the key features of a gothic novel.






This is really useful for my exam on Thursday, thanks!

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