Wuthering Heights

Revision cards on Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

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Emily Bronte

  • Died at home on chaise longe, aged 30.
  • Wrote under Preudonym Ellis Bell as she knew she wouldnt be accepted by outside readers.
  • Wuthering Heights was her only novel.
  • Born 1818.
  • Came from Yorkshire- influences like the church, graveyard and moors.
  • She had four sisters and one brother.
  • Charlotte wrote under Currer Bell.
  • She lived an eccentric, closely guarded life. 
  • Her father worked as a church rector, and her aunt, who raised the Brontë children after their mother died, was deeply religious. 
  • She did not take to her aunt’s Christian fervor; the character of Joseph, a caricature of an evangelical, may have been inspired by her aunt’s religiosity. 
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Context

  • Published in 1847.
  • Published under Ellis Bell. This reflects the attitudes of women at the time- it highlights the subversive nature of the female characters and their independence.
  •  Victorian readers found the book shocking and inappropriate in its depiction of passionate, ungoverned love and cruelty (despite the fact that the novel portrays no sex or bloodshed), and the work was virtually ignored.
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Genre

  • A Gothic novel, a style of literature that featured supernatural encounters, crumbling ruins, moonless nights, and grotesque imagery, seeking to create effects of mystery and fear. 
  • A fairy tale "in which there is no semblance of reason."
  • A novel of manners- the relationship between culture and nature.
  • A romantic novel, given its pervading fascination with dreams and the unconscious, and the status it accords the imagination.
  • A visionary novel preoccupied with metaphysical issues of mystical politics.
  • It appears to belong to the tradition of roman personnal (the lived fiction) because of its confident orginality. 
  • Bronte draws between conventional religion and the overarching metaphysical truths of love and uncoventional perception.
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Heathcliff

  • Unlike any other character- he only has the singular name- serves him as first and last name= immediate social outsider.
  • He belongs first nowhere and finally anywhere.
  • Inherits his name from Mr Earnshaw's dead son- name might then be thought of as that of a ghost- a character who is no longer present.
  • The novel teases the reader with the possibility that Heathcliff is something other than what he seems- his cruelty is an expression for his frustrated love for Catherine or that his sinister behavior serves to conceal the heart of a romantic hero- they are dangerous, brooding and cold at first only later to emerge as fiercely devoted and loving.
  • Heathcliff is actually a Byronic hero- powerful, attractive, melancholy and brutal.
  • Heathcliff embodies the anxieties that the novels upper and middle class audience had about the working class in the 1840's.
  • He reflects the weather on the moors- moody and gloomy.
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...Continued

  • He is an enigma- enters Wuthering Heights with no details of his past and leaves (in death) with no recognisable cause.
  • He is a "cuckoo"- he comes into the Earnshaw family and replaces Hindley much like a cuckoo goes into other birds nests and raises its own young there.
  • He suffers huge degradation and violence from Hindley and through Catherine and Edgar his heart is wounded- has a relentless desire for revenge.
  • He is regularly compared to an animal- "mad dog" and "savage beast".
  • He is presented a lot as the devil- "Is Mr Heathcliff a man? If so, is he mad, and if not, is her a devil?" "Imp of Satan" "His eyes are devils spies".
  • Manipulates the readers feelings- his circumstances and unwavering passion for Catherine illicit sympathy but his brutality and determination for revenge causes us to rethink.
  • Heathcliff is partly paradoxical and he does nothing by halves- he loves and hates with his whole being. he is entirely passionate for Catherine yet shows an entire hatred for Hindley and the Lintons.
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Quotes on Heathcliff

  • "He is a dark-skinned gypsy in aspect, in dress and manners a gentleman"
  • "Rough as a saw edge and hard as whinstone"
  • Hindley sees Heathcliff as "usurper to his parents affections"
  • "He never called it the name in full, as he had never called the first Catherine in short" shows his affections for the first Catherine.
  • "Heathcliff's [grave] still bare"
  • "It"
  • "Nelly make me decent, im going to be good"
  • "I shall not stand to be laughed at"
  • "Selfish, unchristian"
  • "It is preferable to be hated by him than be loved by him"
  • "He says he has married me on purpose to obtain power over him"
  • "Diabolical man, delighting the wrong and ruin those he hates if they give him the slightest opportunity"
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Catherine

  • She is dominant and strong willed- asks her father to buy her a whip. Starves herself in a delirious state and eventually to death as a punishment and a way of control- she is "mischievous and wayward".
  • From Nelly's descriptions we can presume that she is mercurial and quite a difficult child and as she grows up there is often a lack of sympathy illicited from the reader due to her selfishness.
  • Our first introduction to Catherine is the ghost-we cannot avoid her character as her name is scratched into everything- Heathcliff is tormented by everything signaling Catherine- she is elusive and forbidden to him as she is incomprehensible to Lockwood thus making her character an enigma.
  • Catherine Earnshaw, Catherine Linton and Catherine Heathcliff show her fragmented social identity and her conflicting struggle for self-hood.
  • Her life is culture vs. nature- in deciding to marry Edgar, Catherine chooses culture over nature. This contrasts her insistence upon her love and oneness with nature- instead of reading she would explore the moors.
  • Her assertion to Nelly, "I am Heathcliff" is dramatic and memorable but cannot stabilise her identity and Heathcliff is uncertain and enigmatic.
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...Continued

  • She and Heathcliff have a relationship beyond the realm of the natural but she betrays him and his degradation for Edgar- some one who is more stables and can offer greater social standing- sh is aware of her responsibilities "it would degrade me to marry Heathcliff".
  • Her actions are driven by her social ambitions, which  are awakened during her first stay at the Lintons’, and compel her to marry Edgar. However, she also violates social conventions - loves Heathcliff, throws temper tantrums, and runs around on the moor.
  • Isabella, serves as Catherine’s foil.There parallel positions allow us to see their differences. Catherine represents wild nature, in both her high, lively spirits and her occasional cruelty, Isabella represents culture and civilization, both in her refinement and in her weakness.
  • Catherine is buried "in a corner of the kirkyard, where the wall is so low that heath and bilberry plants have climbed over it from the moor" with Edgar on one side and Heathcliff on the other, suggesting her conflicted loyalties.
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Quotes on Catherine

  • "She chose a whip"
  • "She was much to fond of Heathcliff"
  • "You look like a lady now" but when seeing Heathcliff "She flew to embrace him"- she has no inhibitions and no care of dirtying her clothes.
  • "It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff"
  • "He's more myself than I am, Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same, and Linton's is as different as a moonbeam from lightening, or frost from fire"
  • "If all else remained, and he was annihilated, the universe would turn a mighty stranger!
  • "I am Heathcliff"
  • "I'm not jealous of you, I'm jealous for you"
  • "She fasted"- a way of gaining control and making Edgar feel guilty.
  • "You and Edgar have broken my heart, Heathcliff... You have killed me"
  • "Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest...Haunt me, then!"
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Edgar

  • Effeminate and gently brought up- Edgar is almost the antithesis of Catherine's character and Heathcliff. The reader is never given a very striking impression of him- sickly and arrogant and a upper class youth.
  • He is described as lacking spirit in two ways- he lacks the vigour that characterises Catherine and Heathcliff but he also lacks there ghostliness- spectral quality that sets them apart to everyone else.
  • Described as "a doll" a "spoiled child" a "soft thing" and "a lamb [who] threatens like a bull".
  • Edgar Linton serves as Heathcliff’s. Edgar is born and raised a gentleman. He is graceful, well-mannered, and instilled with civilized virtues. These qualities cause Catherine to choose Edgar over Heathcliff and thus to initiate the contention between the men.
  • Edgar is particularly humiliated by his confrontation with Heathcliff, in which he openly shows his fear of fighting Heathcliff. Catherine, having witnessed the scene, taunts him, saying, “Heathcliff would as soon lift a finger at you as the king would march his army against a colony of mice.”
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Isabella

  • Her character is closely associated with that of her brother Edgar but she is only ever seen in relation to other characters.
  • Her infatuation for Heathcliff- structurally parallel to Edgar's fascination for Catherine, is a direct result of her cultural life- she can only read Heathcliff as a romantic hero and she never entirely abandons her fantasy of Heathcliff as the Byronic lover even when it is clear that his love for Catherine has transformed itself into lust for revenge- for which Isabella is the vehicle.
  • She seems to be naive and spoilt- she falls in love with the idea of Heathcliff ignoring his brutality but does seem to show more courage than her brother as she stands up to Heathcliff.
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Hareton

  • He is brutalised by Heathcliff- structurally repeating Heathcliff's own suffering at the hands of Hindley.
  • Hareton's relationship with Cathy has similarly been read as mirroring Heathcliff's with Catherine- he is desirous of impressing her, and is proud in her presence. However, it may also resemble Edgar's love for Catherine, in as much as it is moderate yet tender and devoted yet restrained.
  • He is a surrogate or symbolic to Heathcliff.
  • The description of him being taught the skills of reading and writing is not without some diminution of his sexual potency- he sits meekly to be alternately kissed or chastised as he learns. "His honest, warm and intelligent nature shook off rapidly and the clouds of ignorance and degradation it which it had been bred"
  • Hareton's and Cathy's relationship may resolve some of the conflicts with other relationships in the novel but it lacks the grand passion and wild power of that between Catherine and Heathcliff.
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Cathy

  • She is bold and courageous.
  • Her marriage to the sickly and selfish Linton acts as an atonement for the sin her mother committed when rejecting Heathcliff.
  • She can be seen as revising her mothers story and achieves her identity at the price of her mothers.
  • Unlike Linton, who inherits the worst of both his parents, Cathy appears to inherit the good from both hers " the most winning thing that ever brought sunshine into a desolate house- a real beauty in face- with the Earnshaws' handsome dark eyes, but the Lintons' fair skin and small features, and yellow curling hair".
  • Cathy carries pride and displays insensitive mockery of Hareton's lack of formal knowledge.
  • Cathy and Hareton's relationship ends with a romantic conclusion restoring the the domestic bliss that was the Victorian ideal although Bronte leaves Cathy with the upper hand.
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Nelly

  • She is the second and the dominant narrational voice in the novel.
  • Lockwoods inability to read the signs of the culture in which he finds himself cannot sustain the story, though it acts to remind us that all narrational voices, including Nelly's, are partial.
  • She is local and has known each generation of the earnshaw and linton families so she is realiable and well placed enough to give Lockwood a commentary of events.
  • She is different from the other servants because she appears to move effortlessly between the two houses, mediating between their differences and in terms of her voice.
  • She does not share the regional dialect used but understands it perfectly well.
  • She emerges as an educated woman, having read most books in the libarary at thrushcross grange- the house of culture and in having experienced life at Wuthering Heights- the house of nature.
  • Surrogate mother to the motherless characters in the novel
  • Nelly is Mother Goose, the teller of this fairytale, the keeper of its wisdom.
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Linton

  • His name signifies the unnatural union between Heathcliff and the Linton's or between passion and convention and his sickly nature demonstrates the impossibility of such a union.
  • In him both love and convention emerge as corrupted by each other.
  • Bronte uses her most scathing imagery for Linton- "a pet", a "pulling chicken" and a "whelp".
  • Linton's view of the world is singular and it is his inability to see it in any but his own terms which renders him absolutely available for manipulation by Heathcliff.
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Love

  • The novel explores love from a number of different perspectives; domestic, maternal, social, romantic, religious and transcendent.
  • Bronte takes an idealised romance and fuses it with Gothic fantasy and horror- Bronte interleaves illness and death from childbirth.
  • The book is actually structured around two parallel love stories, the first half of the novel centering on the love between Catherine and Heathcliff, while the second half features the developing love between young Catherine and Hareton.
  • Catherine and Heathcliff’s love is based on their shared perception that they are identical. Catherine declares“I am Heathcliff,” while Heathcliff wails that he cannot live without his “soul,”. Their love denies difference, and is strangely asexual. The two do not kiss in dark corners, as adulterers do.Catherine and Heathcliff’s love is based upon their refusal to change over time or embrace difference in others, it is fitting that the disastrous problems of their generation are overcome by the rise of a new and distinct generation. It is a story that is already constructed about loss.
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Nature and Culture

  • Nature is represented by the Earnshaw family, and by Catherine and Heathcliff in particular, also being the desolate and isolated Wuthering Heights- exposure.
  • Thrushcross Grange- enclosure and the Linton family represent culture, refinement, convention, and cultivation.
  • Bronte employs landscape imagery in particular to represent heighted emotional states that would otherwise defy representation in a nineteeth century novel.
  •  the reader almost may interpret Wuthering Heights’s impact on the Linton family as an allegory for the corruption of culture by nature, creating a curious reversal of the more traditional story of the corruption of nature by culture. 
  • Brontë tells her story in such a way as to prevent our interest and sympathy from straying too far from the wilder characters, and often portrays the more civilized characters as despicably weak and silly. Thus in the end the reader must acknowledge that the novel is no mere allegory.
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Education and Social Class

  • Catherine’s decision to marry Edgar so that she will be “the greatest woman of the neighborhood” shows how important social status is. The Linton's are relatively firm in their gentry status but nonetheless take great pains to prove this status through their behaviors.
  •  The Earnshaw's do not have a carriage, they have less land, and their house, as Lockwood remarks, resembles that of a “homely, northern farmer” and not that of a gentleman.
  •  The shifting nature of social status is demonstrated  in Heathcliff’s change from homeless orphan to young gentleman-by-adoption to common laborer to gentleman again (although the status-conscious Lockwood remarks that Heathcliff is only a gentleman in “dress and manners”).
  • The denial of education to Heathcliff's perceived as a form of social punishment and humiliation. It robs Heathcliff of status both within the family and within society, however Hareton loses power- sexual power, whilst acquiring social skills relating the the choice Catherine made when trading authentic self hood for social privilege.
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Moors

  • This landscape is comprised primarily of moors: wide, wild expanses, high but somewhat soggy.
  • It features particularly waterlogged patches in which people could potentially drown. 
  • Thus, the moors serve very well as symbols of the wild threat posed by nature. 
  • As the setting for the beginnings of Catherine and Heathcliff’s bond (the two play on the moors during childhood), the moorland transfers its symbolic associations onto the love affair.
  • Fire is also a symbol- in interior scenes- the hearth is the centre of life, warm and cosy but the fire is symbolic of the anger and frustration in Heathcliff.
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Dreams and the Supernatural

  • Dreams demonstrate a way of thinking the forbidden- the central importance and the relation to magic, visions and the supernatural is never understood.
  • Lockwood's dream of the child Catherine begging to be let in is disturbing- it is grisly and the cruelty of him sawing her wrist against the broken glass is uncomfortable.
  • The dream is more uncomfortable as neither Heathcliff or Lockwood believe it is a dream.
  •  Brontë always presents them in such a way that whether they really exist remains ambiguous. 
  • Certain ghosts—such as Catherine’s spirit when it appears to Lockwood may be explained as nightmares. The villagers’ alleged sightings of Heathcliff’s ghost could be dismissed as unverified superstition. 
  • Whether or not the ghosts are “real,” they symbolize the manifestation of the past within the present, and the way memory stays with people, permeating their day-to-day lives.
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Boundaries

  • Walls, windows, locks, gates and doorways- defended and breached.
  • Lockwood is barred from the heights when he first visits; he then attempts to bar Catherine's ghost; Catherine and Heathcliff are barred from Thrushcross Grange; Each character seeks control by trying to lock others in or out= some imprisonment or exclusion.
  • Various windows and barriers serve both to separate and connect polar opposites- inside and outside; human and ghost. However none of the boundaries remain intact.
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Dual Narration

  • First narrator= Lockwood- unreliable: he mistakes social relationships and radically misreads Heathcliff at the beginning.
  • To Lockwood books= knowledge and are therefore very important. He thinks of himself very highly and fancies the idea of himself and Cathy- he thinks Nelly is just telling a "story"
  • Second narrator= Nelly- although is is somewhat less subject to contradiction and denial, it is informed by her own partiality. we are never under the impression that her narrative is a neutral or objective narrative
  • She is unable to grasp her place within the Earnshaw family- servant or family. She often shows a lack of sensitivity and is sometime socially inept. She is also manipulative and deceptive but often acts as a mother figure and an adviser to many characters including Heathcliff and Catherine.
  • The novel insists upon the judgement and responsibilities of the reader.
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Comments

Belinda

"His honest, warm and intelligent nature shook off rapidly and the clouds of ignorance and degradation it which it had been bred" - this quote is about Hareton, not Heathcliff

Katie Ballard

Oh ok, thankyou! 

Dla2lag

This is a detailed power point that explores context, events and characters; it also identifies quotes of relevance from the novel and overall provides a useful revision resource.

BethD

Thanks, these are very useful. But I'm pretty sure that the quote below is about Edgar Linton, not Heathcliff:

"He never called it the name in full, as he had never called the first Catherine in short" shows his affections for the first Catherine

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