Examine the significance of place in Wuthering Heights Essay

mily Bronte uses the idea of place in Wuthering Heights to portray many themes; the three main places within the novel are Wuthering Heights, Thrushcross Grange and the moors. Each one is very significant and symbolises it’s own issue.

Wuthering Heights is dark, inhospitable and fortress like, as if built for defence, “The narrow windows are deeply set into the wall and corners defended with large jutting stones”, the residents of the house are also very defensive and the setting of the house frames the mood of the characters, ” ‘I don’t want your help,’ she snapped”, the idea that the house changes the behaviour of the characters comes into motion at this point.

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However at the end of the novel I feel that this concept is reversed as the atmosphere of the house is completely changed and this is due to the characters who live there, “Both doors and lattices were open; and, yet, as is usually the case in a coal district, a fine, red fire illumined the chimney…”

Wuhering Heights is a house, which is difficult to get to and where the wind blows and howls outside it, causing the ‘stunted’ fir trees to ‘excessively slant’. The house is constantly battered by the Yorkshire weather but always manages to withstand it, just like Catherine and Heathcliff’s passion for each other withstands anything. When the relationship is weakoned, Bronte displayed this through the house being damaged, “….a huge bough fell across the roof, and knocked down a portion of the east chimney-stack,”

Nothing is ornamental, everything is there for a purpose, unlike Thrushcross Grange, “A huge, liver coloured bitch pointer surrounded by a swarm of squealing puppies, and other dogs haunted other recesses”. There is no warmth or nurturing they are only there to guard as is shown later when the dog’s “lip curled up, and her white teeth watering for a snatch”, the behaviour of the animal also displays that the characters are almost ‘guarding’ something as well. This happens when Lockwood is first introduced to Wuthering Heights and it portrays that the residents of the house are guarding their emotions, it is like they do not want to display any feelings to a single person and this informs the reader that something has happened in the past to make them behave in this manner.

Anything that is life-substaining is force to retreat, “I believe at Wuthering Heights the kitchen is forced to retreat altogether in another quarter”, Lockwood slowly delves further into the core of Wuthering Heights as he discovers the past of this household. When he finally gets to the core, which seems to be the end, Cathy and Hareton are left and these two, who have been forced to retreat and finally they are allowed to come out into the open with life as they want, as their boundaries are removed and make Wuthering Heights into a place “That is an improvement!”

The relationship with Wuthering Heights, which represents nature, “…borded with straggling goosebury bushes,” is Thrushcross Grange, which represents culture, “…A splendid place carpeted with crimson…”

The hostile and dark place is in total contrast to the polar opposite, Thrushcross Grange, being the park, down off the moors, enclosed by walls and parklands, unlike Wuthering Heights, which is open and subject to the harsh moor land weather. Unlike the characters at Wuthering Heights, Thrushcross Grange resisdents seem kind and considerate, Lockwood is sat in front of a ‘cheerful fire and smoking coffee’. There is warmth and hospitality at Thrushcross Grange, which is completely unheard of at Wuthering Heights until the end.

Wuthering Heights is dark, Thrushcross Grange is pure and bright, “It was beautiful-a splendid place carpeted with crimson….” The dogs at Wuthering Heights are functional and are used as guard dogs, but the dogs at Thrushcross Grange are there as pets, to be loved and cared for. This contrast highlights the very significant difference between the Earnshaws and the Lintons.

Thrushcross Grange is much more civilised and once again the house has changed the character and this is empthasised in Catherine’s improvements after her five week stay there, “Her manners much improved…”

However this is reversed again when Heathcliff invades Thrushcross Grange and it a slowly disintergrates into a place more like Wuthering Heights, so a character can alter a house just the same as the house can alter the character.

The two opposites are separated by a boundry, which is the moors; Catherine and Heathcliff are associated with the moors throughout the novel. Their love for the moor symbolises their wildness, they are drawn towards the moor, like they are drawn towards each other.

As children they would escape there to get away from their life at Wuthering Heights and also to get their revenge on Hindley, “But it was one of their chief amusements to run away to the moors in the morning and remain there all day”,

Every thing that Catherine and Heathcliff go through is taken onto the moors, “carried his ill-humour onto the moors…”, it is almost like the moors is their place of comfort and escapism. The moors is where they belong and this is empathised when Catherine has a dream of going to heaven and being flung back onto the moors, “…into the middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights;”, here Catherine declares her love for Heathcliff in the most extravagant terms and this also helps to highlight that her love for the moors is on the same level as her love for Heathcliff. Even after Catherine’s death, Heathcliff still feels that she will be on the moors as this is where the two of them shared their best times together, “I should meet her; when I walked on the moors…”

The moors is a love that they both share and it joins the two of them together, just like it joins Thrushcoss Grange and Wuthering Heights.

Emily Bronte uses place to empthasise feelings felt by the characters and also to form an atmosphere and style within the novel, She does with vivid, liminal imagery and polar opposites.


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