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Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Updated on February 13, 2010

Wuthering Heights is a novel by the English author Emily Bronte, published in 1847. The story is set on the bleak Yorkshire moors. Heathcliff, an orphan, is brought up by Mr. Earnshaw, owner of the estate Wuthering Heights. The boy and Mr. Earnshaw's daughter, Catherine, become deeply attached to each other. Catherine's brother, Hindley, resents Heathcliff and treats him cruelly. When Heathcliff overhears Catherine remark that it would degrade her to marry him, he runs away. In his absence, Catherine marries a wealthy neighbor, Edgar Linton.

Three years later, Heathcliff returns, embittered and bent on destroying both the Linton and the Earnshaw families. Catherine, ill and distressed by her continuing love for Heathcliff, dies after giving birth to a daughter, Cathy. Heathcliff marries Edgar's sister out of spite, and they have a son, Linton. When Linton is grown, Heathcliff forces him to marry Catherine's daughter. After a brief and unhappy marriage, Linton dies, leaving Cathy dependent on Heathcliff. Now the tyrannical master of both the Earnshaw and the Linton estates, Heathcliff is still tortured by memories of Catherine, which drive him to his death. The story, which has been narrated by the kindly servant Nellie Dean, ends with the harmonious marriage between the widowed Cathy and Hareton Earnshaw, Hindley's son.

Wuthering Heights is regarded as perhaps the greatest example of the English Romantic novel. It is especially noted for its powerful and sympathetic delineation of the lovers and their intense passion.

In its portrayal of a brooding landscape and atmosphere as tied to human emotions, the book represents for many an effective fusion between a psychological novel and Romantic poem.


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