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Wuthering Heights Analysis

Updated on March 18, 2014

Well known 19th century writer, Emily Bronte, delivers one of her best and most loved novels, Wuthering Heights, a read that is shocking and entertaining to every generation. Emily Bronte’s life was full of heartache and hardships, and it shows in her writings. From the early death of her parents, the stress of caring for her siblings, and the lack of necessities of life, Bronte knew what suffering was. Thankfully, Emily Bronte expressed her artistry in writing, making an audience out of many. She never married, and died at the early age of 30, yet, she can be greatly appreciated for her enlightening works that not only entertain but affect people greatly. Wuthering Heights is one of her most popular works, this novel is no ‘walk in the park’ rather it strains its reader to continue reading in hope of a happy ending.

Wuthering Heights is narrated by two very different characters. It begins with Lockwood a new tenant of Thrushcross Grange, and the majority is narrated by Nelly Dean, a past resident and past servant of the estate. Lockwood enters the scene in the first chapter, and finds that his landlord is a very mysterious man, almost as mysterious as Wuthering Heights itself. Not only is Heathcliff, the landlord, mysterious, but he seems to have a temper and disposition that is very disturbing. In order to understand what kind of world he is now residing Lockwood confides in Nelly Dean, and she meticulously informs him of the history of Wuthering heights.

It would seem by the testimony of Nelly, that she was very intimate with many of the characters. She shows how brutality and brilliance can be contained in the most beautiful of women, and she shows the reality of physical abuse in relationships. Aside from the negativity and family drama, Wuthering Heights is, in essence, a love story. It is a love story between Catherine and Heathcliff.

Catherine Earnshaw is the privileged daughter of the Master of Wuthering Heights, her future as a young lady is to marry someone of good fortune and to give birth to an heir. Catherine was very a haughty as a child, but considerably beautiful, and as she grew older she only increased in both of her strongest attributes. Catherine’s whole life becomes more complicated when a foundling arrives with Mr. Earnshaw. Heathcliff now enters the picture.

Heathcliff is not of good fortune, in fact, his origin is a mystery. He is a kindred spirit to Catherine, though, from the very beginning. Their relationship is intense and quite confusing. As a child under the Earnshaw household, Heathcliff was despised by Catherine’s brother Hindley and even Nelly Dean. Heathcliff, though, was loved by Mr. Earnshaw, and because of this and the special treatment he received; he was hated by Hindley. Heathcliff grew up under Hindley’s abuse and Catherine, his dear companion, stayed silent about it. Still Catherine and Heathcliff were inseparable. They were partners in crime, and withstood punishment together; they grieved Mr. Earnshaw’s death, and comforted one another and most of all they were each other’s identity.

Catherine and Heathcliff were the most evil children. Both were selfish and hot-tempered, and extremely mischievous. Catherine loved Heathcliff greatly, even though he was much lower than her in society. The first several chapters of Wuthering Heights show how the odds were always set against Catherine and Heathcliff, and Emily Bronte seems to make protagonists or heroes out of obviously horrible people.

As Heathcliff made a reputation of ferocity and savageness, Catherine made herself a reputation of beauty and haughtiness. Hindley the master of the house, was cruel to Heathcliff, and after a while of such cycles of anger and physical abuse, people stopped visiting. Most everyone decent knew better, except for Edgar Linton. Edgar had motives for visiting, which consisted of becoming very close to Catherine Earnshaw. By age fifteen Catherine was the “queen of the countryside” and knew it all too well (Bronte 61). Catherine might have been vain and haughty, but she was not fickle. She was forever attached to Heathcliff, even though, he made such a bad reputation and was disliked by most decent people, and she was attached to Nelly Dean, even though, Nelly was very forthright with her. Catherine’s old attachments made it difficult for Edgar Linton, to form a new one.

Still Edgar was the best candidate for Catherine. He knew that, as well as she did. Apart from the love Catherine had for Heathcliff, she loved herself more. For after spending five weeks with the Linton’s, and having a good reputation among them, she wanted to continue in her relationship with them. Yet, when Linton begins to visit, Catherine begins to feel her two worlds colliding. Both of the most loved and important men in Catherine’s life suddenly feel very threatened by each other. Heathcliff cannot stand the threat of Edgar Linton stealing Catherine away, and Edgar cannot stand the fact that Catherine is even attached to such a man as Heathcliff. Catherine begins to be torn between normality and love.

Catherine was in love with the idea of marrying Edgar and she was heavily supported by her brother Hindley. And on the day she became engaged to Edgar Linton, Heathcliff disappears. His sudden disappearance leaves Catherine sick and distraught for a long while, even into her marriage. As the time passed without Heathcliff, though, Catherine learned how to live happily and enjoy life with Edgar, but her contentment does not last.

Heathcliff returns after three years of silence. He returns a man, and he returns to the joy of Catherine and the annoyance of Edgar. Emily Bronte shows a tension between Catherine and Heathcliff that is now heightened since Catherine is now a married woman. Catherine’s love for Heathcliff seems to have only increased as the years passed, and Heathcliff seems to be smarter and more cunning than before. Heathcliff brings much trouble, especially when Isabella Linton, Edgar’s younger and very spoiled sister falls in love with him. This not only angers Edgar, but it infuriates Catherine.

With his evil and scheming mind Heathcliff takes Isabella as his wife, knowing full well she is Linton’s only heir. Catherine suffered illness for it, and Edgar suffered her cold words and the burden of caring for her. Heathcliff and Isabella ran off, leaving behind a trail of deceit and wounded hearts. Heathcliff returns to Wuthering Heights as the new Master and Isabella as the Mistress, yet, Isabella is suffering for the mistake she made.

Catherine Linton never recovered from losing Heathcliff and one day as she sat in a white gown distraught, as usual, Heathcliff paid her a visit. This is the most intense and passionate part of the entire book. Catherine and Heathcliff hold each other, kiss, and weep. Heathcliff spoke as harshly as Catherine did to him, blaming him for her death, and he did not take the blame, rather he spoke these words in accusation towards Catherine “I love MY murderer - but YOURS! How can I?” (156). Later the same night of the embracing of Catherine and Heathcliff, Catherine gave birth to a daughter and passed away shortly afterward.

Such heartache entered the most savage of men. Heathcliff begged for the haunting of his love, Catherine, no matter what form and no matter how she haunted him. This would seem to be the ending of the story. And it is the end of Catherine’s, but her daughter, Young Catherine, has apart in this novel too.

At age thirteen, she discovers the cold Wuthering Heights manor, and three years later, she forms an attachment with Heathcliff’s sickly son Linton. In a last effort to avenge himself Heathcliff forces Catherine to marry Linton, so that he can have control of the Thrushcross Grange. Eventually Heathcliff has taken revenge of himself against Hindley and Edgar Linton, by being the Master of their estates, also, by taking hostage young Catherine and Linton, and not to mention the family servant and narrator Nelly Dean. Heathcliff by the end of this novel has proven to be quite horrible. At one point, Emily Bronte influences her readers to pity him, but by the end, one can only despise such a man.

You are suddenly left with the picture of young Catherine saddened by the death of her love, and Heathcliff living for every moment of Catherine’s ghostly appearance. One would assume that the end of the story has come, yet, Hareton the son of the late Mr. Earnshaw, who has always lived at Wuthering Heights, captures the love of young Catherine, and to make the story more pleasant, Heathcliff accidentally dies on the moors leaving the two with estates and the opportunity to finally find true happiness together.

Emily Bronte shows humanity at its worst. Only an author who has experienced such hardships and human cruelty could conjure up such a fantastic story. This book shows a cycle of death and birth, and the generational issues that every family has. It is also very entertaining, with its relational tensions and great dialogue. The negative side of this book is pretty obvious. The reader should be aware of the flaws in each character, such as: the narcissism of Catherine, the anger of Heathcliff, and the drunkenness of Hindley. Such horrible characters seem to make this novel all the more interesting and in-depth. This book may either be completely detested or completely appreciated; it is rare for someone to be neutral. Even though Wuthering Heights does have much sadness and brutality, it should be appreciated for its artistry and amazing plot. Emily Bronte proved to be raw talent just as her sister Charlotte and deserves to be recognized due to her provoking gothic novel Wuthering Heights.


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    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 

      4 years ago from Hawaii

      I had read this book in high school for my AP English. I really agree with this analysis. Thanks for sharing!

    • ohamilton profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      thank you. Yes, it is an intriguing read:)

    • lisavanvorst profile image

      Lisa VanVorst 

      4 years ago from New Jersey

      Great Narrative. I have heard of this book. I will have to put it on my list of books to read.


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