There are many transformations throughout ‘Wuthering Heights’, namely that of the older Cathy who in chapter 7 returns from Thrushcross Grange transformed into a lady. This follows Heathcliff and Cathy’s run away trip to the Grange to see what it was like, during which Cathy was bitten by one of the dogs on the ankle. When she returns she is a more ‘dignified person’ dressed in finer clothes and lady like in her appearance and actions. This makes Heathcliff ask if he can be made decent, and the next day the Lintons are invited to Wuthering Heights, allowing all four of the children to meet.
In chapter 8 Frances Earnshaw dies of consumption and this event marks the rapid decline of Hindley into dissipation. This transformation of the strong, bully Hindley, whose treatment of Heathcliff fires Heathcliff’s revenge throughout the story, is now transformed into a drunken fool. Hindley subsequently loses his property through gambling to Heathcliff, therefore losing all power that he once had.
Isabella’s character also goes though a transformation in the book. In chapter 10 we see a rather silly Isabella infatuated with Heathcliff, an intense fascination that leads to marriage. She soon realises that Heathcliff has not married her for love but rather for revenge, and proceeds to treat her with little care or attention. Isabella’s change of home from Wuthering Heights to Thrushcross Grange has a dramatic effect upon her character, as she goes from the spoilt little girl at Thrushcross Grange to the determined independent woman when confronting Nelly with her escape, having run two miles over the moors.
The art of story-telling – constructing a story in such a way that the reader wants to read on. Where are the ‘cliff-hangers’ in Wuthering Heights?
Many of the cliff-hangers in ‘Wuthering Heights’ are established by Lockwood and his arrival to Wuthering Heights; here he encounters many unanswered questions. Who is Heathcliff and how has he come to own both property’s? How come the younger Cathy is a widow at such an early age? How come everyone is so bitter? Who is this ghost that appears in the bedroom and what spiritual importance is it to Heathcliff? As we read on further questions arise of these first chapters; where is the older Cathy? Where is Hindley? How has Heathcliff acquired Thrushcross Grange?
Apart from the long standing unanswered questions that linger throughout the story, there are cliff-hangers existing within short parts of the story. For example, when Isabella confronts Nelly with her escape from Wuthering Heights, she tells us that Hindley had attacked Heathcliff in response to him throwing a knife at Isabella, ‘and both fell locked together on the hearth’. However, because we are getting this part of the story from Isabella, at this point she leaves so the result of this embrace is not known, leaving the reader to wonder what has happened between the two.
Another example of a cliff-hanger is that off Heathcliff’s escape, on hearing that Cathy would rather marry Edgar. We know that he returns, due to his appearance in the first few chapters. We don’t know where he is going or what he is going to do in response to the news he has just heard.
Tragedy – central characters who meet their downfall. Is the tragedy their fault, or does it lie in unavoidable circumstances? Do Catherine and Heathcliff each have a fatal flaw?
I do think that Heathcliff and Catherine have a fatal flaw, and that is there love for each other. As Isabella tells Nelly, is preferable to be hated by Heathcliff than to be loved by him. Without Heathcliff, the older Cathy wouldn’t have been as rebellious as a child, and she wouldn’t have to have betrayed her heart in marrying Edgar. It is also obvious that Heathcliff contributes to the older Cathy’s downfall by his frequent visits to the grange, which his final visit to the grange results in her death.
Heathcliff, who appears to be a rather innocent, harmless boy when entering the Heights as a young boy, is definitely affected by his failed love with the older Cathy. This love seems to be so strong that it twists Heathcliff’s emotions so much that he develops into a ‘worshipper’ of the older Cathy and nothing else, disregarding everything else in life and mistreating everyone else that gets in his way.
I think that most of the tragedy that results in ‘Wuthering Heights’ is Heathcliff’s fault, it is understandable that he would want to take revenge for the way he was treated initially, and this revenge and tragedy can be attributed to unavoidable circumstances. However, when Heathcliff proceeds to inflict pain on the second generation, the reader begins to place the blame for tragedy on Heathcliff.
The story of evil and cunning revenge. Is Heathcliff satanic, heroic or both?
I believe that Heathcliff is both satanic and heroic. At the start of the story when he is abused by Hindley and he still proceeds to fulfil his failed love for the older Cathy, he is seen as a heroic figure as he is trying to fulfil his dreams but is restricted by other characters actions. When he runs away we sympathise with Heathcliff and admire him when he returns a tall, intelligent man.
When partaking in his revenge on Hindley and Edgar he reveals a satanic nature, which as the story develops begins to take over his character. Such examples of this are shown when Heathcliff hangs Isabella’s dog to show that his love for her is non-existent and is spawned by revenge. Other examples such as when he welcomes the ghost of the older Catherine to haunt him for his murder.
Heathcliff claims of what he wants to do to people suggest a satanic nature to him. He claims he wants to paint the side of the house with Hindley’s blood.
An epistolary novel. Where does Emily Brontï¿½ use this device?
During Isabella’s stay within Wuthering Heights she writes to Nelly informing her of the hardship she is encountering, therefore this allows the reader to understand what is happening within Wuthering Heights, even when Nelly or Lockwood are not present. In these letters we see Heathcliff through the eyes of another narrator confirming and reiterating his evil nature at this point of the story. Also Isabella urges Nelly to come to visit her, which she does allowing Nelly to then experience the events herself.
The next time we see the use of a letter, is again from Isabella as she writes to inform Edgar that she is dying. As requested he brings Linton, her son, back to the grange.
In the love affair between the younger Cathy and Linton, we see letters used as the only form of correspondence between them. Eventually they are discovered by Nelly who burns them and demands that Cathy should stop sending and receiving them, or she will inform Edgar of their correspondence of which he is sure to object.
The first Gothic novel. What Gothic touches are there in Wuthering Heights?
Perhaps the best known of all Gothic novels. What features of the genre does it exhibit? (I have chosen to combine these two questions due to their similar nature)
Gothic – Adjective, concerned with supernatural or horrifying events.
The first incident that takes place in ‘Wuthering Heights’ that complies with the definition of a Gothic incident, is that when Lockwood has to stay the night at WutheringHeight
Heights. Lockwood sleeps in a forbidden, secret room, and encounters the ghost of Catherine, much to Heathcliff’s distress. In the second of his dreams he hears a knocking on the window, which he presumes is a branch knocking on the window. He reaches out of the window and grabs the branch which turns out to be a hand that grabs tightly and won’t let go. ‘I pulled its wrist on to the broken pane, and rubbed it to and fro till the blood ran down and soaked the bedclothes’
Other examples consist of Hareton’s hanging puppies, Heathcliff hanging Isabella’s dog. The event in the kitchen when Hindley forces a knife between Nelly’s teeth. When under the heavy influence of alcohol Hindley throws his own child over the banister. When Isabella taunts Heathcliff he throws a knife at her which hits her in the neck. All events that happen in and around Wuthering Heights.
There is a darkness that definitely surrounds Wuthering Heights and its inhabitants. At times Heathcliff shows elements of a satanic nature, Hindley’s violent bullying of Heathcliff and senseless dissipation. It appears to even effect the weakest of characters with Lockwood’s horrific dreams and imagery which surrounds them.
Heathcliff highlights the belief in the supernatural by begging the older Cathy to haunt him, which appears to be happening in the earlier chapters.
The central character typifies the ‘Byronic hero’. What does this term mean? Could the term apply to Heathcliff?
Byronic – Characteristic of Lord Byron or his poetry, handsomely dark, mysterious or moody.
It can be said that Heathcliff does possess a handsomely dark quality, recognised by the older Cathy in the earlier parts of the book as their attraction between each other is difficult to ignore. Also, when Heathcliff returns after three years, Isabella becomes infatuated with him and continues to do so, even when he hangs her dog Heathcliff says, ‘no brutality disgusted her – I suppose she has an innate admiration for it’
There is a mysterious nature to Heathcliff in the sense that the reader never really knows what he is going to do next. After he abandons his original motive to return and kill Hindley then kill himself, it is almost like Heathcliff is already dead, dead of soul and reasoning for his actions. However, taking these incidents alone does no give the reader the full picture of the character of Heathcliff. With the background knowledge of the childhood of Heathcliff, we begin to see his reasoning behind the motives. Brontï¿½ crafts the story perfectly so that the reader is always in two minds to either sympathise with Heathcliff and his actions or to regard them as heroic and sympathise with his character which has been created by previous abuse.
There is definitely evidence within the story to suggest Heathcliff is moody, on the eve of the older Cathy’s death he bashes is head against the knotted tree trunk in anger, at which Nelly observes ‘several splashes of blood’.
Heathcliff is the most poetical and emotional in his use of language, Byron was regarded as having a natural recognition of rhythm in his writing of poetry.
According to Macauley, Byron was ‘a man proud, moody, cynical, with defiance on his brow, and misery in his heart, a scorner of his kind, implacable in revenge, yet capable of deep and strong affection’. This is very close to the description of Heathcliff that Brontï¿½ portrays. He is a man who is strangely proud of the way he treats Isabella, moody (as shown above), ridden with revenge, yet capable of deep and strong emotions, shown towards the older Cathy (love) and to Isabella, Hindley and Edgar (hatred).
Highly imaginative. A horror story, based on a dream. Where is horror at its height in Wuthering Heights?
In my opinion, the horror is at it’s height in ‘Wuthering Heights’, is on the eve when Lockwood has to stay the night at the heights. He stays the night in the secret haunted room of the older Catherine. Here he dreams two strange dreams; the first one is linked to Joseph and a preacher rev. Jabes Branderham. In the dream one of them has committed the first of the seventy-first sins and is to be publicly denounced. Lockwood in the dream confesses that it is he who has committed the offence.
He is then woken up by a branch knocking on the window. In the second dream he is still aware of the branch knocking on the window. He reaches out of the window and grabs the branch which turns out to be a child’s hand that grabs tightly and won’t let go. The child refuses to let go and begs to be let in, identifying herself as Catherine Linton, ‘I pulled its wrist on to the broken pane, and rubbed it to and fro till the blood ran down and soaked the bedclothes’. At this point the child lets go, but Lockwood cannot shut out her cries of despair, she says that she has been waiting for twenty years to get back into the room. Finally he cries out, arousing the attention of Heathcliff who immediately removes him from the room.
This detail of horror was very rare for this period, which is why many reviews when the book was issued suggest that the coarseness of Brontï¿½’s horror was at times unnecessary and not suitable.
I believe this is the height of the horror in ‘Wuthering Heights’ because it combines both the fear of the supernatural and physical violence, a technique used for its dramatic effect in modern horror movies. However, to a nineteenth century audience this would have been even more shocking, as horror in this detail was very rare, if not unique.
The magazine contained reviews and new writing. What might a contemporary reviewer have had to say about Wuthering Heights?
Compared to other writers of this time Emily Brontï¿½ uses coarse language and imagery which would have been new to a reader of this time. However, I would imagine the reviews would have praised the novel for its imaginative use of language and character, and originality as a novel of this kind was rare for this time. However, I would imagine reviewers would have mixed reactions to the dark potency of the novel. Which at times can produce imagery such as Isabella’s hanging dog and a knife being thrown at her while trying to run away.
This is a satire on The Mysteries of Udolpho. Where does Emily Brontï¿½’s use of humour suggest that she, also, likes to parody the gothic genre.
Although not obvious to all readers, there are elements that exist within ‘Wuthering Heights’ to suggest that Brontï¿½ is using humour suggest a parody to a gothic genre. Such as the broad Yorkshire accent given to Joseph, who could be described as a ‘Bible Basher’, this broad accent creates an absurdity to everything which he speaks. Although the humour is not shared by myself, other elements of Gothic parody arise in the stereotypical way the horror scenes are constructed. With ravaging lightning, blustering gales in a battered farm house in the middle of the moors some would argue this is a parody of the gothic novel.