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Study Guide for Wuthering Heights


Wuthering Heights is Emily Brontë’s only novel. Brontë wrote the gothic yet tragic novel in 1847 under the pseudonym Ellis Bell and received a great deal of criticism for the violent nature of the character of Heathcliff that she created. Wuthering Heights is still known today as one of the most tragic romantic, gothic novels in literary history. It’s popularity still remains to this day with the quote “ Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same” being among the most widely used love quotes of today.

The book is set in the gloomy yet wild Yorkshire moors with violent storms and wind. This setting seems to reflect both the wildness of both central characters and the uncontrollable forces that part them. The novel is centered around the tragic love story of Heathcliff and Cathy who fall victims of uncontrollable circumstances.

The love Heathcliff and Cathy share is filled with violent passion and adds to the gothic theme of the novel. However, when denied the love of his life, Heathcliff sets out on a series of revenge. He takes revenge on most of the characters and does so at times in a rather violent manner. So Heathcliff should be a hated character, so why isn’t he?. Well, Brontë structures the novel to bring forth first the cold hearted and rough Heathcliff and then by means of Nelly Dean’s narrative, she manages to give a justification as to why he became that way.

The novel is filled with violence in almost every chapter. Whether it be Hindly’s physical abuse of Heathcliff or his own son, Cathy’s abuse of Nelly Dean, or Heathcliff’s abuse of Isabella Linton, and Catherine Linton (Catherine Earnshaw’s daughter). The violent yet wild nature of the characters that inhabit Wuthering Heights presents it’s self as one of the main themes of the novel, in contrast to the tame yet civilized inhabitants of Thrushcross Grange.