Emily Bronte wrote Wuthering Heights in 1847, and it is considered a golden classic of modern literature. Surprisingly, this is Mrs. Bronte’s only novel. Still, its mastery plot and innovative use of numerous narrative lines earned her an eternal place in the ranks of the best literature writers of all time.
It is more than just an iconic novel; it is a novel that changed the way people thought about romance. Years after its publication, this story of stormy, forbidden, passionate, and tragic love remains relevant and enticing to read. This book never gets old, just as true love never does.
Analysis of Characters
Mr. Lockwood is the first person the reader meets in the novel. It’s 1801, and a young Londoner relocates to the countryside, to the Thrushcross Grange mansion, searching for solitude. One day, he decides to visit the mansion’s neighbour and owner, Heathcliff – a cold and somewhat dry man who lives in the Wuthering Heights mansion. Lockwood tells the story in his diary, but his primary source of information is Nelly Dean, the housemaid for the strange family he once met.
Nelly Dean practically raised three Earnshaw children – a girl named Catherine and two boys named Hindley and Heathcliff. The entire story is Nelly Dean’s personal impression of the situation. Despite the subjectivity, it retains a high level of credibility because Nelly is a well-educated and intelligent woman. She is trustworthy and attentive, so many characters confide in her about their true feelings and deepest fears. Mrs. Dean also serves as Cathy’s mother.
Catherine Earnshaw was Mr. and Mrs. Earnshaw’s daughter. She is spoiled and selfish, but she is also curious and cheerful. She can be abrasive, assertive, and even rude at times. She does, however, mature into a delicate and tender woman, as stated by the author in Chapter VII:
In place of a savage, hatless little savage bursting into the house and rushing to leave us all gasping for air, there ‘lighted from a handsome black pony a very dignified person, with brown ringlets falling from the cover of a feathered beaver, and a long cloth habit, which she was obliged to hold up with both hands so that she could sail in.”
It’s critical not to mix up Catherine’s two female characters in the novel: Catherine Earnshaw is the main character, while her daughter, Catherine Linton, is a supporting character. Catherine Earnshaw dies during the birth of her daughter.
Chapter IV “… The word “Earnshaw” is inscribed over the entrance door of Wuthering Heights. Is this a long-established family? … It’s ancient… Moreover, Hareton is the last of them, just as our Miss Cathy is the last of us—I mean, of the Lintons.”
Hindley is the Earnshaw family’s son and Catherine’s brother. He was born in the town of Earnshaw. He is a young man who is envious, vindictive, and he is envious of his adopted brother, Heathcliff, and will take any opportunity to attack or humiliate him. As the boys grow older, the dispute becomes more intense, and Mr. Earnshaw’s answer to the situation was to send his son Hindley abroad to attend college. Hindley comes face to face with his wife Frances, a soft and delicate woman who passes away shortly after giving birth to their son Hareton. Hindley begins to drink heavily after the death of his loving wife, and he eventually loses his family estate to Heathcliff, as follows:
Chapter XVII “… he has spent the entire night deliberately drinking himself to death! After hearing him sports around like a horse, we went in to find him lying over the settle, unawakened by flaying or scalping. “We broke in this morning because we had heard him sporting around like a horse.”
Heathcliff is the Earnshaw family’s foster son. He is obstinate, vengeful, and cruel. Catherine’s best friend (the two even fell in love) and Hindley’s worst enemy. After Mr. Earshow’s death, Hindley returned to the mansion, assumed the position of the family head, and made Heathcliff a servant, denying him an education. He later married Isabella Linton and had a son named Linton. His entire life had been devoted to exacting vengeance on those who did not respect him.
The Earnshaw Family Drama’s Unfoldment
- Catherine Earnshaw develops a close intimate relationship with her foster brother Heathcliff, whereas her brother Hindley is envious of this new family member and treats him rudely.
- Catherine chooses to marry Edgar Linton, a young man from a neighbouring aristocratic family. They never become a model couple, and Cathy dies while giving birth to her daughter Catherine Linton.
- Heathcliff blames everyone for not treating him as an equal and tries to make the lives of all family members who live in Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange miserable: he marries Edgar’s sister Isabella to prove that he can but mistreats her, and he forces Catherine’s daughter to marry his son Linton to inherit the family estate and the money that her father Edgar left her.
- Heathcliff eventually dies and rejoins his beloved foster sister, while Catherine’s daughter develops a close relationship with Hidley’s son Hareton.
Wuthering Heights Summary
The true story takes thirty years before Mr. Lockwood arrives in the Northern English countryside. Lockwood is trapped in the house due to a storm and must spend the night in the guest bedroom during his second (and equally unwelcome) visit to Wuthering Heights. There he discovers the diary of Catherine Earnshaw, in which she tells the story of two children, Catherine and Heathcliff. During the night, he comes across the female ghost.
When he returns to Thrushcross Grange, he asks his maid Nelly Dean to tell him a story about the people who lived in Wuthering Heights because she spent most of her life caring for the estate and the family who owned it. Nelly tells him about Mr. Earnshaw returning home one day with an orphan named Heathcliff, who became a family member. The orphan grew close to his foster sister Catherine while encountering an adversary in his envious foster brother Hindley.
After his father’s death, Hindley returns to Wuthering Heights with a new wife and assumes ownership of the estate. He immediately demotes Heathcliff to a regular employee, never missing an opportunity to show that his foster brother is nothing in his household. But Heathcliff doesn’t seem to mind because he enjoys being around Catherine. They spend all of their time together and form an unusual bond.
Catherine gradually begins to spend more and more time at their neighbours’ house, where Edgar and Isabella Linton live. The Linton family welcomes Catherine, but Heathcliff is not. Catherine learned good manners at Linton’s house and grew up a high status and upbringing lady. In contrast to Heathcliff, Edgar Linton was a noble young man with a good education, a decent upbringing, and refined manners. Heathcliff became even more rude and aggressive due to Catherine’s affection for Edgar; he once displayed his jealousy in this manner.
He abandons the estate and disappears for three years. Catherine feels betrayed by Heathcliff, but she overcomes her feelings and marries Edgar.
Hadley’s wife Frances has a son named Hareton, but he dies soon after. Hindley is pushed down the path of misery and pity by the stress of losing his beloved wife. At the same time, Cathy’s marriage is strained as the two realize they come from different worlds and have very different values. Heathcliff’s return after three years adds to the tension but delights Catherine, who is thrilled to see her childhood sweetheart.
During his three-year absence, Heathcliff makes a fortune and becomes an attractive man, and Isabella Linton wishes to marry him. Catherine is aware of her foster brother’s volatile temper and tries to persuade Isabella that Heathcliff is not a good match for her. Heathcliff does not deny that he only wishes to marry Isabella as retaliation for the treatment he once received from Linton’s family. When Edgar tries to get rid of Heathcliff, he causes Catherine to feel nervous. Nelly, the housekeeper, conceals Catherine’s illness from Edgar, hoping that it will go away. When Edgar realizes his wife is losing her mind, she is too sick to live and is also pregnant with his child. Cathy Linton dies two hours after giving birth to a baby girl.
Isabella ignores her brother and Catherine and marries Heathcliff. Their marriage devolves into an abusive and unhappy union. She eventually relocates to the outskirts of London and gives birth to a son, Linton Heathcliff. After Isabella’s death 13 years later, Edgar takes her son to live with him and his daughter Catherine.
When Catherine reaches the age of 16, Heathcliff insists on marrying his son Linton to claim rights to the estates of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange (where Edgar moved with Catherine after they got married). This is his way of exacting vengeance on the Linton family, whom he despises! Heathcliff imprisons Catherine and refuses to see her dying father unless she agrees to marry Linton. Because Linton was ill, he died a month after the wedding, and his estate is distributed to his father, Heathcliff, according to his will. Catherine Linton is entirely reliant on Heathcliff, enraged by the entire world.
Throughout his life, Heathcliff harbored feelings for the deceased Catherine Earnshaw, whose ghost wanders the estate at night. When he dies, he joins his beloved woman. Catherine Linton eventually befriends Hareton (the son of Hindley whom Heathcliff despised), and the two decide to marry. Heathcliff, nearing the end of his life, grows tired of vengeance and does not attempt to prevent the couple from becoming close.
Wuthering Heights is a worthwhile read. Its plot is fascinating, and the author’s mastery makes the text a joy to read. The attention to detail in village life, mastery interpretations of nature signs in the romantic context of the book, bright symbols, and characters, and subtle references to the gothic style all contribute to this novel’s status as an iconic masterpiece.