Comparison of Setting between Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre

Categories: Wuthering Heights

In two literary works, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, setting plays an important role. Setting can be described as the time [] and place in which an event occurs. It helps the reader to understand the story and where the character is coming from. Both the authors associate setting to the characters in the story. In Wuthering Heights, the setting represents the nature or characteristics of the characters; while in Jane Eyre, the setting has a function to show the character’s development throughout the story.

Throughout the novel Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte effectively uses weather [] and setting to give the reader the inside of the personal [] feeling of the characters. The setting used throughout the novel, helps to set the mood to describe the characters.

Get quality help now
checked Verified writer

Proficient in: Comparison

star star star star 4.7 (657)

“ Really polite, and a great writer! Task done as described and better, responded to all my questions promptly too! ”

avatar avatar avatar
+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

There are two main settings in Wuthering Heights: the houses [] of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. Each house represents its inhabitants. The wild, uncivilized manner of Wuthering Heights and the high cultured, civilized nature of Thrushcross Grange are reflected in the characters who inhabit them.

Wuthering Heights is a house [] set high upon a hill where is exposed to extreme weather [] conditions. The name of the place itself is symbolic of its nature, “Wuthering being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather [].” (page 2). Heights is a bleak, thick-walled farmhouse surrounded by wild, windy moors. The Heights is “strong,” “built with narrow windows [] and jutting cornerstones,” and is “fortified to withstand harsh conditions” (page 2).

The path that is nearest to the Heights is long and winding, with “many pits, at least, were filled to a level; and entire ranges of mounds, the refuse of the quarries . . . blotted from the chart” (page 19). The description of, “a few stunted firs at the end of the house [],” and, “a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun.” (page 2) proves that even the vegetation surrounding the structure conjures images that lack warmth and happiness.[1] Moreover, as the story goes on, the image of “a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun” is similar to the condition of Heathcliff (the thorn) as he tries to ‘reach’ Catherine (the sun)

The Heights’ appearance is wild, untamed, disordered, and hard. The characters at Heights tend to be strong, wild, and passionate, much like the house [] itself. Heathcliff is Wuthering Height’s human incarnation. He is abusive, brutal and cruel, and as wild and dark as the moors surrounding Heights.[2] Catherine is stubborn, mischievous, wild, impulsive, and arrogant; Hindley is wild, uncontrollable, jealous and revengeful. In Heights, everyone shouts; pinching, slapping and hair [] pulling occur constantly. Catherine, instead of shaking her gently, wakes Nelly Dean up by pulling her hair [].[1] “The bleak and harsh nature of the Yorkshire hills is not a geographic accident. It mirrors the roughness of those who live there”[2] As a whole, Heights symbolizes hate, anger, and jealousy.

Opposite of Wuthering Heights, Thrushcross Grange is set within a lush, protected valley and is covered by a high stonewall. It is filled with light and warmth “Unlike Wuthering Heights, it is elegant and comfortable-‘a splendid place carpeted with crimson, and crimson covered chairs and tables, and a pure white ceiling bordered by gold’.”[1] It is surrounded by neat, orderly parks and gardens. The Grange is extremely luxurious and beautiful; filled with music [], books [], and other lovely objects which express a civilized, controlled atmosphere. The house [] is neat and orderly, comfortable and refined, and there is always an abundance of light.[2]

The characters at the Grange are passive, civilized, and calm, which personifies the house [] they live in. The Lintons are all very polite, respectable people []. They are characterized as having, “pure, pale skin,” and “light hair [].” The residents of this house [] have much lighter-sounding names than those in Heights — Edgar and Isabella. Isabella and Edgar Linton are well behaved and gentle, as refined and civilized as the Grange; Catherine Linton is energetic and warm-hearted, relating to the bright, cheery air of the Grange.[2]

In contrast, Heights is governed by natural elements, especially wind, water [], fire, and animals. The world at Grange, however, revolves around reason, formality, and money [].[2] Heathcliff and Catherine belong to the natural and immaterial world while the Lintons live in a purely material society. Moreover, the inhabitants of Heights were working-class, while those of the Grange were upper-class society.

All of the characters in the novel also reflect the masculine and feminine values of the places they live in. Heights is extremely masculine in that it is strong, wild, and primitive, whereas the Grange is seen as more feminine with marked decadence and gentility.[2] Catherine Earnshaw is willful, wild, and strong (masculine) while Edgar Linton is described as weak person (feminine). Heathcliff is always out of place at Grange because he is absolutely masculine. The Lintons are a contrast to Catherine and Heathcliff in that they are safe, spoiled, and cowardly as opposed to being self-willed, strong, and rebellious.[2] When Edgar Linton insults Heathcliff, Heathcliff throws a bowl of hot applesauce on Edgar, and in response Edgar whines and cries instead of fighting back.

While Heights was always full of activity, sometimes to the point of chaos, life at the Grange always seemed peaceful. Heights was always in a state of storminess while Grange always seemed calm.[1] Brontë made Heathcliff and Wuthering Heights as one, making them both cold, dark, and menacing, similar to a storm. She also made Thrushcross Grange parallel with the Lintons, which has more of a welcoming, peaceful setting.

The marriage of Edgar and Catherine is doomed from the very beginning not only because she does not love [] him, but also because each one is so strongly associated with the values of his or her home []. Only Hareton and Catherine Linton can sustain a successful mutual relationship because each embodies the psychological characteristics of both Heights and Grange.[2] Catherine appears to display more Linton characteristics than Earnshaw, but her desire to explore the wilderness outside of the Grange links her strongly to the wild Heights people [].

Hareton is rough on the edges because of the influence Heathcliff has had on him, but he has a kind and gentle heart as well as a desire to learn and better himself, which makes for an interesting combination of the characteristics of each household. At the end of the story, the garden that Cathy Linton planted is filled with twisted fir trees and domestic plant. These two kinds of plants joining together represent her personality very well. She has wildness, as the twisted fir tree like her mother, and civility as the domestic plants like her father.[2]

Emily Bronte also uses weather [] and seasons to create atmosphere and reflect the feelings of the characters. For example, after Heathcliff runs away: “There was a violent wind, as well as thunder” and a “storm came rattling over the Heights in full fury” (page 53). This emphasizes the storm of feelings in the characters concerned.[3] Bronte is able to allow the outer weather [] to symbolize the inner emotional state of Catherine.[4] Other example of changes in the weather [] is when Cathy’s mood changes after her meeting with Heathcliff: “The rain began to drive through the moaning branches of the trees, and warned us to avoid delay…Catherine’s heart was clouded now in double darkness” (page 148).[3]

Toward the end of the novel, around the time [] of Lockwood’s return to visit Heights, the weather [] suddenly becomes kinder and the setting is friendlier[4] “It was sweet, warm weather” (page 192). There was “a fragrance of stocks [] and wall flowers [], [that] wafted on the air, from amongst them homely fruit trees”. This represents the peaceful in the Heights.

Fundamentally, Bronte’s Wuthering Heights is a tale of two very different households that produce two very different types of people []. As its name suggests, Wuthering Heights is exposed to the wildness of the elements, and it first generation characters are associated with the ‘heights’ of passion. Thruscross Grange has gentler, more cultivated, perhaps Christian (‘cross’) connotations, and it first generation characters are more civilized. In the second generation, the contrast becomes blurred, as Cathy and Hareton plant flowers [] from the Grange in their garden at the Heights, and finally move to the Grange.[3]

Connecting the setting with the time [] the novel was written, the contrast between the houses [] portrays the death or decline of Romanticism. Heights is representative of Romantic excess; wild, passionate, hard. Romantics worshipped nature and were quick to show emotion and/or passion. The Heights is Romanticism taken to excess. Grange, on the other hand, represents the predominant Victorian values of the time–repression of emotions, education [], and money []. The end of Wuthering Heights (Cathy and Hareton abandoning Heights and moving [] to Grange) represents the end of Romanticism, and the ultimate dominance of Victorian values.[5]

For Jane Eyre, the settings describe the development in Jane’s life. Charlotte Bronte sets her story in the 1840’s, a time [] often referred as the Victorian age. By doing this, the reader can get a sense of how women were treated, and what responsibilities they were required to maintain in society. Jane lives in a world and in a time [] where society thought women were too fragile to ponder. Women at the time [] have barely any rights at all and are not allowed prominent positions.[6] Jane was a very strong woman for her time [], as she did not allow people [] to mistreat her.

She is on a constant search [] for love [] and goes to many places to find it. Throughout Jane Eyre, as Jane herself moves from one physical location to another (Gateshead Hall, Lowood Institution, Thornfield Manor, Moor House [], and Ferndean Manor), the settings match the conflicting circumstances Jane finds herself in at each. “Each time [] Jane moves from one locale to another the narrative breaks to set the scene and stress [] that this setting will form a new stage in Jane’s life”[7] As Jane grows older and her hopes and dreams change, the settings she finds herself in are perfectly accustomed to her state of mind, but her circumstances are always defined by the walls, real and figurative, around her.[8]

As a young girl, she is essentially trapped in Gateshead. Her life as a child is sharply delineated by the walls of the house []. She is not made to feel wanted within them and her emotional needs were ignored. Another place, Lowood, is bounded by high walls that sharply define Jane’s world. Except for Sunday services, the girls of Lowood never leave the limits of those walls. Jane has always lived within physical walls and even as a teacher at Lowood had to get permission to leave.

Thornfield is in the open country and Jane is free [] from restrictions on her movements. She is still restricted, in a sense, but now she is living with relative freedom.[8] This home [] was a turning point in Jane’s life because it was the place that major maturing took place in Jane’s life. She finally was able to feel true love [] and be loved back, and the love that she had was true love.

At Moor House [], the walls that Jane finds herself within are attractive because of the companionship of Mary and Diana. In the end, she returns to Rochester at Ferndean and, she thinks, to the walls that suit her best. All the walls that had restricted her are gone. She has moved beyond the walls and can be the person that she truly is.[8] This home [] was very different than the other ones that Jane lived in; it was the one that she was truly happy in although it was just a simple home [].

Each setting is dominated by different tone. At Gateshead, the tone is passionate, superstitious, and wild. This shows us the irrational elements in Jane’s character. The tone at Lowood is cold, hard, and constrained and reflects the limitations placed on young women by religious thought and social convention. At Thornfield, the setting is personal [] and symbolic, for instance the house [] itself is identified with Rochester.[7] At Moor House [] the tone again becomes more stifling and oppressive as Jane slips back into a more conventional way of behaving, and begin to feel the limitations of St John’s urge to self-sacrifice.[7] When we finally reach Ferndean, we move at last from fear and anticipation to delight. The novel therefore swings between the irrational – Gateshead and Thornfield – and the rational – Lowood and Moor House [] – reflecting the division within Jane herself, until resolution is achieved at Ferndean.[7]

Here, we can see that Bronte uses setting as an important role in the search [] for domesticity. Instead of returning to her childhood home [] to find domesticity, Jane cannot find home [] until she moves to a totally different place. Setting plays an equally important role as she moves from Gateshead Hall to Lowood to Thornfield to Moor House [], and finally to Freudian Manor. She cannot find her native ideal at Gateshead Hall, the site of her childhood torment; or Lowood, a boarding school; or Thornfield, where Rochester hid his first wife and almost became a bigamist; or Moor House [], where St. John’s presence constantly reminds her of true love [] rarity. She and Rochester can only create their own domestic haven in a totally new and fresh setting.

Consequently, by allowing Jane to go through so many different settings, Bronte is showing the growth that she undergoes. This growth is from a temperamental young girl to a strong married woman.

From those two novels discussed here, we can see that both authors use setting as an important mean in building the characters. If in Wuthering Heights the setting has a function to tell about the character’s nature; where each character distinctly represents the house [] he or she lives in and the values associated with it; then Jane Eyre uses setting to show the development happens in the character’s life. From here, we can see that the setting seems to mimic the feeling of the individuals that are within the novel.

Cite this page

Comparison of Setting between Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. (2016, Jul 15). Retrieved from

Comparison of Setting between Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre

👋 Hi! I’m your smart assistant Amy!

Don’t know where to start? Type your requirements and I’ll connect you to an academic expert within 3 minutes.

get help with your assignment