Areas of Study
Areas of Study
Represent two possible ways of living and reflect the characters of the families living within them, the civilised and sophisticated Lintons and the passionate Earnshaws. The action of the novel centres here and on the moorland which lies between. When characters travel away they are 'lost'.
How does Lockwood describe Wuthering Heights, at his first and last visits? Look at how it changes at various points during the story.
From where do the main sources of conflict at the house originate?
What is the effect of the weather on both houses?
Catherine spends much time staring out of the windows at the Grange. Look at the view she sees and what is obscured from view.
Cathy's childhood is spent entirely in the Grange and its park. It is almost like a walled Paradise. Who is her tempter?
Both houses are physically isolated but many characters experience emotional isolation during the course of the novel, sometimes through choice. Few escape - Hindley and Frances for a time, Cathy and Hareton at the end, Heathcliff and Catherine after death.
Who is isolated and what isolates them?
Are Catherine and Heathcliff responsible for their own isolation?
Closely allied to isolation, a number of characters experience some kind of imprisonment. Nelly and Cathy are physically imprisoned at Wuthering Heights prior to the marriage to Linton; Edgar is so protective of his daughter that he keeps her a virtual prisoner for the early years of her life; Isaballa chooses imprisonment at Wuthering Heights by marrying Heathcliff.
Does Catherine choose imprisonment by marrying Edgar?
When and why do Catherine, Heathcliff and Edgar lock themselves away?
When do characters lock others out? What is the significance of this?
Are Catherine and Heathcliff prisoners of their own passions?
These serve as recurring images, preserving isolation, allowing access or suggesting barriers which separate characters form their hopes and desires. Heathcliff and Catherine gaze through the windows of the Grange as children. Later Catherine gazes out of the windows at the Grange and Heathcliff enters through a window to view Catherine's dead body. In a sense Nelly and Lockwood are 'windows' to the worlds of the Grange and the Heights.
Compare Lockwood's access to Wuthering Heights at the beginning and end of the narrative. What does this suggest?
Look at the points when windows, doors or gates are left open or closed. What is the significance of each?
The same windows are put to different purposes during the novel, for example Catherine's ghost tries to enter through the window in the oak panelled room; Cathy escapes out of it to comfort her dying father. When Heathcliff dies it is flapping open in the wind. Look for other parallels.
There appears to be a rejection of traditional Christian values in the novel. Both the Earnshaws and the Lintons are regular churchgoers at the start, but this wanes. Catherine's grave becomes the centre of devotion for Edgar and Heathcliff whilst Hindley rejects the church as he declines and his house becomes a living hell. Nelly and Joseph believe in traditional concepts of heaven and hell.
Edgar believes that after death he will be reunited with Catherine in Heave whilst she dreams of escaping heaven when she is dead and roaming on the moors. She is buried in the open air, 'not under the chapel roof'. The ghosts of Catherine and Heathcliff are sighted together on the moors at the end.
Most characters speak of their own concepts of heaven and hell. Explore the significance of what they say.
Is the nature of Joseph's religion a positive one?
Heathcliff is more than once described in diabolical terms. What does this suggest?
A number of relationships are explored.
Heathcliff and Catherine - selfless in childhood but mutually destructive when older. Uncontrolled, intense, unfulfilled on earth but not in death where they achieve 'union'.
Catherine and Edgar - based on infatuation on Edgar's part and Catherine's desire for status.
Hindley and Frances - indulgent, childish.
Heathcliff and Isabella - obsessional, fuelled by her love of Romantic literature and Heathcliff's desire for revenge on Edgar.
Linton and Cathy - she is maternal and dutiful. He wants protection.
Hareton and Cathy - 'normal', life giving, happy. Both know how to love, as have feelings for 'fathers' as children (Cathy/Edgar; Hareton/Heathcliff).
Look at the way Catherine and Heathcliff speak to each other. What does this reveal?
Death and disease
Books and the way they are used by various characters
The way people are described as animals
The different styles of prose - Nelly's and Lockwood's narrative styles, Joseph's dialect, the way Catherine and Heathcliff address each other