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Wuthering Heights Questions and Answers

Wuthering Heights Questions and Answers

 

                                                                                      MARKS-10/15

1. Theme

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[Q. What are the main conflicts in Wuthering Heights and how do they relate to the novel’s themes?[Wuthering Heights Questions and Answers]

Or, Q. “Love and revenge are the two main themes in Wuthering Heights

as they govern the whole story and grip us throughout the novel.” Discuss.]

Published in 1847, the year before Emily Bronte’s death at the age of thirty, Wuthering Heights has proved to be one of the nineteenth century’s most popular yet disturbing masterpieces. The windswept moors are the unforgettable setting of this tale of the love between the foundling Heathcliff and his wealthy benefactor’s daughter,

Catherine. Through Catherine’s betrayal of Heathcliff and his bitter vengeance, their mythic passion haunts the next generation even after their deaths. Incorporating elements of many genres-from gothic novels and ghost stories to poetic allegoryand transcending them all, Wuthering Heights is a mystifying and powerful tour de force.

Of the major themes in Wuthering Heights, the nature of love – both romantic and brotherly but, oddly enough, not erotic – applies to the principal characters as well as the minor ones. Every relationship in the text is strained at one point or another. Brontë’s exploration of love is best discussed in the context of good versus evil (which is another way of saying love versus hate). Although the polarities between good and evil are easily understood, the differences are not that easily applied to the characters and their actions.

The most important relationship is the one between Heathcliff and Catherine. The nature of their love seems to go beyond the kind of love most people know. In fact, it is as if their love is beyond this world, belonging on a spiritual plane that supersedes anything available to everyone else on Earth. Their love seems to be born out of their rebellion and not merely a sexual desire. They both, however, do not fully understand the nature of their love, for they betray one another: Each of them marry a person whom they know they do not love as much as they love each other.

Contrasting the capacity for love is the ability to hate. And Heathcliff hates with a vengeance. Heathcliff initially focuses his hate toward Hindley, then to Edgar, and then to a certain extent, to Catherine. Because of his hate, Heathcliff resorts to what is another major theme in Wuthering Heights-revenge. Hate and revenge intertwine with selfishness to reveal the conflicting emotions that drive people to do things that are not particularly nice or rationale. Some choices are regretted while others are relished.

These emotions make the majority of the characters in Wuthering Heights well rounded and more than just traditional stereotypes. Instead of symbolizing a particular emotion, characters symbolize real people with real, oftentimes not-so-nice emotions. Every character has at least one redeeming trait or action with which the reader can empathize. This empathy is a result of the complex nature of the characters and results in a depiction of life in the Victorian Era, a time when people behaved very similarly to the way they do today.

In the novel Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte, shows how different aspects of themes are presented for a readers consideration. Some of the important themes in Wuthering Heights are, revenge, spiritual feelings between main characters, obsession, selfishness, and responsibility. Bronte mainly focuses on the spiritual feelings of her characters. The difference between the feeling that Catherine has for Heathcliff and the one she feels for Edgar is that Heathcliff is part of her nature, he is like her soul mate. While on the other hand Edgar is only part of her superficial love, and because she is attracted to Edgar and his love for her.

It is the spiritual love rather than a physical love that brings Heathcliff and Catherine together. Revenge is the most dominant theme in the book, although at the end Heathcliff abandons his plan for revenge. For Heathcliff revenge started when Hindley used to abuse him when they were younger. He started to hate him and wanted to seek revenge. After he came back from his journey he made Hindleys life a living hell. Heathcliff got all of the property from gambling with Hindley. Heathcliff also wanted revenge on Edgar who married the woman Heathcliff loved.

Love and Passion

Passion, particularly unnatural passion, is a predominant theme of Wuthering Heights. The first Catherine’s devotion to Heathcliff is immediate and absolute, though she will not marry him, because to do so would degrade her. “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same, and Linton’s is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.” Although there has been at least one Freudian interpretation of the text, the nature of the passion between Catherine and Heathcliff does not appear to be based on sex. David Daiches writes, “Ultimate passion is for her rather a kind of recognition of one’s self-one’s true and absolute self-in the object of passion.” Catherine’s passion is contrasted to the coolness of Linton, whose “cold blood cannot be worked into a fever.” When he retreats into his library, she explodes, “What in the name of all that feels, has he to do with books, when I am dying?”

Revenge

Heathcliff’s devotion to Catherine, on the other hand, is ferocious, and when frustrated, he conceives a plan of revenge of enormous proportions. Catherine’s brother Hindley shares her passionate nature, though he devotes most of his energies to degrading Heathcliff. In some respects the passion that Catherine and Heathcliff share is so pure that it approaches a kind of spirituality. “I cannot express it,” says Catherine, “but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is, or should be an existence of yours beyond you.” In the characters of Heathcliff and Hindley, who both feel slighted in love, Brontë draws a parallel between the need for love and the strength of revenge.

Violence and Cruelty

Closely tied to the theme of revenge, but sometimes independent of it, are themes of cruelty and sadism, which are a recurring motif throughout the novel. Cruelty can be manifested emotionally, as in Mr. Earnshaw’s disdain for his naturalborn son, or in the first Catherine’s apparent rejection of Heathcliff in favor of Edgar. The characters are given to physical cruelty as well. “Terror made me cruel,” says Lockwood at the outset of the story, and proceeds to rub the wrists of the ghost Catherine against a broken windowpane in an effort to free himself from her grasp. Hindley torments Heathcliff, as Heathcliff will later torment Hareton. And although he has no affection for her, Heathcliff marries Isabella and then treats her so badly that she asks Nelly whether he is a devil. Sadism is also a recurring thematic element. Heathcliff tries to strangle Isabella’s dog, and Hareton hangs a litter of puppies from the back of a chair. The first Catherine’s early refusal of Heathcliff has elements of masochism (self-abuse) in it, as does her letting him back into her life, since her divided heart will eventually kill her.

Class Conflict

To the characters of Wuthering Heights, property ownership and social standing are inextricable. The Earnshaws and the Lintons both own estates, whereas Heathcliff is a foundling and has nothing. The first Catherine plans to marry Linton to use her husband’s money to raise Heathcliff’s social standing, thus freeing him from Hindley’s domination. Her plan is foiled when Heathcliff disappears after hearing Catherine say that to marry him would degrade her. When he returns, he exerts great efforts to do people out of their property: first Hindley, then Isabella, then the second Catherine Linton. He takes revenge on Hareton by ensuring that the boy is raised in ignorance, with loutish manners, so that he will never escape his station. The story comes full cycle when Catherine Linton teaches Hareton to read, thus winning his love. The understanding at the end of the novel is that the couple will move to Thrushcross Grange.

Nature

“Wuthering” is a Yorkshire term for roaring of the wind, and themes of nature, both human and nonhuman, are closely associated with violence throughout the story. The local landscape is as storm-tossed as are the hearts of the inhabitants of Wuthering Heights; cycles of births and deaths occur as relentlessly as the cycles of the seasons. The characters feel themselves so intrinsically a part of their environment that the first Catherine compares her love for Edgar to “foliage in the woods,” and that for Heathcliff to “the eternal rocks beneath.” In detailing his plan to debase Hareton, Heathcliff says, “We will see if one tree will not grow as crooked as another, with the same wind to twist it!” The novel opens with a snow-storm, and ends with the flowering of spring, mirroring the passions that fuel the drama and the peace that follows its resolution.

Supernatural

There are many references in the novel to the supernatural, and even when the references seem fairly literal, the characters do not seem to think them odd. When Lockwood first arrives, he encounters the ghost of the first Catherine Linton, and his telling of the event to Heathcliff arouses not disbelief but a strange passion. The bond between the first Catherine and Heathcliff is itself superhuman, and after she dies, Heathcliff implores her spirit, “I pray one prayer-I repeat it till my tongue stiffensCatherine Earnshaw, may you not rest, as long as I am living! You said I killed youhaunt me then!” At Edgar Linton’s death, Heathcliff persuades the gravedigger to open Catherine’s coffin, and later confesses to Nelly that he has been haunted by Catherine’s spirit for eighteen years. At the end of the novel, after Heathcliff’s death, Nelly reports to Lockwood a child’s claim that he has seen Heathcliff and a woman walking on the moors.

Emily Brontë spent her short life mostly at home, and apart from her own fertile imagination, she drew her inspiration from the local landscape, the surrounding moorlands and the regional architecture of the Yorkshire area-as well as her personal experience of religion, of folklore, and of illness and death. Dealing with themes of nature, cruelty, social position, and indestructibility of the spirit, Wuthering Heights has surpassed the more successful Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre in academic and popular circles.

2. The Significance of the Title

[Q. What is the significance of the title, Wuthering Heights?

Or, Q. What does the title Wuthering Heights symbolize?]

Wuthering Heights (1847) is the British writer Emily Brontë’s only novel, and she published the book under the deliberately gender-neutral pseudonym Ellis Bell. Brontë wrote Wuthering Heights during a period of time in history when writing was not considered a suitable occupation for women. Indeed, women’s literature of the Victorian age in British history was often considered transgressive simply because it was written by women. With this historical context in mind, it is perhaps no surprise that Brontë’s protagonist and heroine, Catherine Earnshaw, also defies feminine stereotypes of the time period. With complex characters, ties to the natural landscape, supernatural occurrences, and Heathcliff’s prominent role as a Byronic hero, Wuthering Heights is often identified as a representative work of Romantic fiction.

The specific setting of Wuthering Heights is fictional, but the Gimmerton valley in which the novel takes place is likely based on the landscape surrounding Haworth, the village in West Yorkshire, England, that the Brontë sisters called home. Brontē wrote the novel from her home in Haworth, and while the natural landscape may have influenced her descriptions of the moors surrounding Wuthering Heights, few details beyond the setting of Wuthering Heights appear to be autobiographical.

The very name Wuthering Heights is significant to the understanding of the novel as a whole. As discussed in chapter 1 of the novel, the word “wuthering” is a synonym for “windy” or “blustery.” Though the name of the estate ostensibly describes the natural environment of Yorkshire in which the estate is located, readers soon see that it applies to the inhabitants of Wuthering Heights as well. When emotions are running high, the household of Wuthering Heights is chaotic and violent, much like the moorland weather conditions during a storm. Some readers may understand the depictions of Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff’s youthful adventures on the moorlands as a kind of Edenic experience: Heathcliff’s presence enables Catherine to enjoy the natural wonderland of the Yorkshire moors in a youthful and innocent way; to extend the comparison, their soulful love for each other suggests the spiritual connection that existed between Adam and Eve, just as their respective demises mirror Adam and Eve’s Biblical fall.

At the end of the novel, Catherine and Heathcliff lie next to each other, apparently having finally found peace in eternal rest. However, with Heathcliff’s ghost having been spotted on the moors and with Catherine’s grave placed directly between Edgar and Heathcliff, the exact nature and extent of this peaceful rest is left open to interpretation.

The title of the novel, Wuthering Heights is the name of a Yorkshire estate where the novel actions take place. Wuthering means violent, turbulent weather usually created by strong winds. Wuthering Heights metaphorically represent wind and twists that the different characters experience as they try to maintain wealth, family estates and their privileges. Wuthering may also imply lack of stability, uncertainty.

The name of the novel comes from the Yorkshire manor on the moors on which the story centres (as an adjective; wuthering is a Yorkshire word referring to turbulent weather). The narrative tells the tale of the all-encompassing and passionate, yet thwarted, love between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, and how this unresolved passion eventually destroys them and many around them. Now considered a classic of English literature, Wuthering Heights met with mixed reviews by critics when it first appeared, mainly because of the narrative’s stark depiction of mental and physical cruelty.

Though Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre was initially considered the best of the Brontë sisters’ works, many subsequent critics of Wuthering Heights argued that its originality and achievement made it superior. Wuthering Heights has also given rise to many adaptations and inspired works, including films, radio, television dramatisations, a musical by Bernard J. Taylor, ballet, opera, and song. As an adult Emily recognized a metaphysical power in her life that made itself known in her greatest poems and is a profound presence in Wuthering Heights.

Set during late eighteenth century England, Wuthering Heights reflected the social upheaval occurring in England at the time Emily Bronte wrote the novel. The industrialization of England had given rise to a middle class based on wealth instead of land ownership. The arrival of Irish refugees from the potato famine presented the problem of parentless children in need of homes and socialization exemplified in the character of Heathcliff. Ultimately, Emily portrays the problem of being female in the patriarchal culture of the early nineteenth century.

The title of Wuthering Heights points to the central setting, the house, Wuthering Heights. This house is symbolic of the internal life of Heathcliff, its main inhabitant. The setting establishes this novel as an ideal example of Romantic and Gothic literature. Therefore, the title is significant because it highlights the central location and themes of the novel.

wilderness will be tamed. Heathcliff is both an embodiment of the force of this change and its victim. He brings about a change but cannot change himself. What he leaves behind, as Lockwood attests and the relationship of Cathy and Hareton verifies, is a new society, at peace with itself and its environment.

It is not necessary, however, to examine in depth the Victorian context of Wuthering Heights to sense the dialectic contrast of environments. Within the limited setting that the novel itself describes, society is divided between two opposing worlds: Wuthering Heights, ancestral home of the Earnshaws, and Thrushcross Grange, the Linton estate. Wuthering Heights is rustic and wild; it is open to the elements of nature and takes its name from “atmospheric tumult.” The house is strong, built with narrow windows and jutting cornerstones, fortified to withstand the battering of external forces. It is identified with the outdoors and nature and with strong, “masculine” values. Its appearance, both inside and out, is wild, untamed, disordered, and hard. The Grange expresses a more civilized, controlled atmosphere. The house is neat and orderly, and there is always an abundance of light-to Brontë’s mind, “feminine” values. It is not surprising that Lockwood is more comfortable at the Grange, since he takes pleasure in “feminine” behavior (gossip, vanity of appearance, adherence to social decorum, romantic self-delusion), while Heathcliff, entirely “masculine,” is always out of place there.

Indeed, all of the characters reflect, to greater or lesser degrees, the masculine and feminine values of the places they inhabit. Hindley and Catherine Earnshaw are as wild and uncontrollable as the Heights: Catherine claims even to prefer her home to the pleasures of heaven. Edgar and Isabella Linton are as refined and civilized as the Grange. The marriage of Edgar and Catherine (as well as the marriage of Isabella and Heathcliff) is ill-fated from the start, not only because she doesn’t love him, as her answers to Nelly Dean’s catechism reveal, but also because both are so strongly associated with the values of their homes that they lack the opposing and necessary personality components. Catherine is too willful, wild, and strong; she expresses too much of the “masculine” side of her personality (the animus of Jungian psychology), while Edgar is weak and effeminate (the anima). They are unable to interact fully with each other because they are not complete individuals themselves. This lack leads to their failures to perceive each other’s true needs.

Even Cathy’s passionate cry for Heathcliff, “Nelly, I am Heathcliff,” is less love for him as an individual than the deepest form of self-love. Cathy cannot exist without him, but a meaningful relationship is not possible because Cathy sees Heathcliff only as a reflection of herself. Heathcliff, too, has denied an important aspect of his personality. Archetypally masculine, Heathcliff acts out only the aggressive, violent parts of himself.

The settings and the characters are patterned against each other, and explosions

are the only possible results. Only Hareton and young Cathy, each of whom embodies the psychological characteristics of both Heights and Grange, can successfully sustain a mutual relationship.

This dialectic structure extends into the roles of the narrators as well. The story is reflected through the words of Nelly Dean-an inmate of both houses, a participant in the events of the narrative, and a confidant of the major characters-and Lockwood, an outsider who witnesses only the results of the characters’ interactions. Nelly is a companion and servant in the Earnshaw and Linton households, and she shares many of the values and perceptions of the families. Lockwood, an urban sophisticate on retreat, misunderstands his own character as well as the characters of others. His brief romantic “adventure” in Bath and his awkwardness when he arrives at the Heights (he thinks Cathy will fall in love with him; he mistakes the dead rabbits for puppies) exemplify his obtuseness. His perceptions are always to be questioned, Occasionally, however, even a denizen of the conventional world may gain a glimpse of the forces at work beneath the surface of reality. Lockwood’s dream of the dead Cathy, which sets off his curiosity and Heathcliff’s final plans, is a reminder that even the placid, normal world may be disrupted by the psychic violence of a willful personality

The presentation of two family units and parallel brother-sister, husband-wife relationships in each also emphasizes the dialectic. That two such opposing modes of behavior could arise in the same environment prevents the reader from easy condemnation of either pair. The use of flashback for the major part of the narrationit begins in medias res-reminds the reader that he or she is seeing events out of their natural order, recounted by two individuals whose reliability must be questioned. The working out of the plot over three generations further suggests that no one group, much less one individual, can perceive the complexity of the human personality.

Yorkshire

Region comprising three English counties-North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, and South Yorkshire-in northern central England. The properties of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange are located in this region of Yorkshire’s lonely, wild, and sparsely populated moors. The moors are characterized by spacious, open grassland and the heather that grows abundantly throughout the region.

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights. Estate of the Earnshaw family located on England’s Yorkshire moors. Wuthering Heights is described by Mr. Lockwood, a tenant at neighboring Thrushcross Grange, as desolate and the ideal home of a misanthropist. Lockwood explains that “wuthering” is a local word used to describe the tumultuous and stormy conditions that are common at Wuthering Heights. The house itself seems dark and forbidding, with a decidedly Gothic physical and spiritual atmosphere. Upon entering the gates of Wuthering Heights for the first time, Lockwood points out its general state of disrepair, especially noting the carvings of griffins at the threshold. Mr. Lockwood also observes that Heathcliff appears as a gentleman, in sharp contrast to

the house itself, while the young Catherine Linton Heathcliff appears wild and untamed. He finds in time, though, that in reality the opposite is true. As the novel progresses and the house passes from one owner to the next, in and out of the Earnshaw family, it is evident that the physical state of the house is somehow connected with the emotional state of its inhabitants. While the elder Mr. and Mrs. Earnshaw live, the house retains a more civilized feeling, but as first Hindley Earnshaw and then Heathcliff obtain ownership, the atmosphere of the house becomes darker and more brooding. Like Heathcliff, the current master of the property, the house steadily deteriorates until the height of its disrepair is described by Mr. Lockwood, who has rented Thrushcross Grange near the end of Heathcliff’s term of ownership.

Liverpool

Major port city in western England. When Hindley and Catherine Earnshaw are young children, their father goes to Liverpool on business. He returns with a young and untamed boy, a homeless child he found in the streets of Liverpool and was unable to leave behind. No one in Liverpool knew who the homeless child was or where he came from, though he was thought by many in Liverpool to be a gypsy. The foundling boy is named for a former inhabitant of Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff, the name of the elder Earnshaws’ dead infant son.

Gimmerton Gimmerton

Fictional village near Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. The village plays a minor, though integral, role in the novel. Heathcliff returns first to Gimmerton before he reappears at Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange after his threeyear absence. Near the end of the novel, when the young Catherine Linton and Ellen Dean are held hostage by Heathcliff at Wuthering Heights, the people of Gimmerton are enlisted to join in the search for them in the Yorkshire moors.

Thrushcross Grange

Home of the Linton family, the nearest neighboring estate to Wuthering Heights. In stark contrast to the dark and forbidding Wuthering Heights, the Grange is lighter and more orderly, a home filled with windows and fresh air. Even the willful and wild Catherine Earnshaw changes markedly when, as a girl, she stays for a few weeks at this location. The atmosphere of Thrushcross Grange does much to tame the formerly unrefined girl. Like Wuthering Heights, Thrushcross Grange passes from the hands of the elder generation, Mr. and Mrs. Linton, to those of a younger generation, first to their son Edgar and later to his daughter Catherine. In the process, as opposed to Wuthering Heights, the atmosphere of the house becomes increasingly refined and civilized. Even the marriage of Edgar Linton of Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights’ Catherine Earnshaw does little to change the more civilized atmosphere of Thrushcross Grange. However, though Catherine’s high spirits are held in check during the first days of her marriage to Edgar, the reappearance of Heathcliff does begin to affect the emotional state of all those who live at Thrushcross Grange. It is only when Thrushcross Grange falls into the hands of Heathcliff, who has gained ownership of the Heights through the marriage of his son Linton to young Catherine, that it begins to fall into a state of relative disrepair. It is this condition in which Lockwood finds Thrushcross Grange at the beginning of the novel. By the end of the novel, young Catherine inherits Thrushcross Grange and Hareton Earnshaw inherits Wuthering Heights. The marriage of Catherine Linton Heathcliff and Hareton Earnshaw, then, unites the two houses in one well-matched and happy marriage. Finally, both the houses and the people who live in them can begin the process of physical and spiritual healing.

Taken together, the setting, plot, characters, and structure combine into a whole when they are seen as parts of the dialectic nature of existence. In a world where opposing forces are continually arrayed against each other in the environment, in society, in families, and in relationships, as well as within the individual, there can be no easy route to perception of another human soul. Wuthering Heights convincingly demonstrates the complexity of this dialectic and portrays the limitations of human perception.

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