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ABOUT EMILY BRONTE THE AUTHOR OF “WUTHERING HEIGHTS”
Emily Brontë was an English novelist and poet, born on July 30, 1818, in Thornton, West Yorkshire, England. She was the fifth of six children in the Brontë family. Her father, Patrick Brontë, was a clergyman, and her mother, Maria Branwell Brontë, died when Emily was only three years old.
The Brontë siblings, particularly Emily along with her sisters Charlotte and Anne, are famous for their contributions to English literature.
Emily’s most well-known work is the novel “Wuthering Heights,” but she also wrote poetry. Unfortunately, Emily Brontë’s literary career was relatively short-lived, as she died of tuberculosis on December 19, 1848, at the age of 30.
Emily Brontë’s life was marked by a certain degree of isolation and tragedy. Growing up in the Yorkshire moors, she and her siblings created imaginary worlds and wrote stories from a young age. Emily was known for her quiet and reserved nature. She attended school in Brussels for a brief period but returned to Haworth due to the death of her aunt and financial difficulties.
Her only novel, “Wuthering Heights,” was published under the pseudonym Ellis Bell. The novel, though initially met with mixed reviews, has since gained recognition as a classic of English literature. Emily Brontë’s writing is characterized by its passionate and intense exploration of human emotions, as well as its vivid and atmospheric descriptions of the natural world.
Despite her relatively short life and limited literary output, Emily Brontë’s work continues to be studied and celebrated for its unique and powerful portrayal of love, obsession, and the human spirit. The Brontë sisters, including Emily, made significant contributions to the literary landscape of the 19th century, and their works remain influential and widely read today.
BACKGROUND OF NON-AFRICAN PROSE Titled “WUTHERING HEIGHTS” by Emily Brontë
“Wuthering Heights” is a classic novel that explores themes of love, fantasy, Gothicism, and revenge. The central character, Heathcliff, is portrayed as a formidable and cruel figure.
He exhibits a sadistic nature, seeking vengeance against those who have wronged him. His heart becomes blinded by revenge, overshadowed by anger, and boiled with excessive hatred, driving him to exert retribution on his offenders.
Other Books/Novels Written by Emily Brontë
Emily Brontë is primarily known for her only novel, “Wuthering Heights,” but she also wrote poetry. Apart from “Wuthering Heights,” Emily’s notable works include:
- “The Night-Wind”
- “Love and Friendship”
- “The Philosopher”
- “High Waving Heather”
Summary of “WUTHERING HEIGHTS” by Emily Bronte
The narrative commences with Lockwood, a man seeking to rent the house known as Thrushcross Grange, visiting his landlord, Heathcliff. Heathcliff resides in a dwelling called Wuthering Heights, situated approximately four miles away from Thrushcross Grange.
Lockwood finds himself intensely intrigued by Wuthering Heights and its contents, prompting him to seek the story behind it. He turns to Nelly Dean, a servant at Thrushcross Grange who also worked at Wuthering Heights, to unravel the tale. Nelly, now the storyteller, transports us back to the past, where she began her service as a young girl in the household of Mr. Earnshaw, the owner of Wuthering Heights.
Mr. Earnshaw brings orphan Heathcliff to Wuthering Heights. Raised with Earnshaw’s children, Hindley and Catherine. Catherine loves Heathcliff, but Hindley, jealous, is sent away after Mrs. Earnshaw’s death. Mr. Earnshaw’s death brings Hindley back, now cruel. Hindley makes Heathcliff’s life miserable, treating him as a servant. Despite this, Catherine and Heathcliff grow closer.
One night, Catherine and Heathcliff visited Thrushcross Grange, where Catherine was bitten by a dog. Forced to stay for five weeks, she grew closer to Edgar Linton, complicating her relationship with Heathcliff. After Frances’s death, Hindley, grieving and turning to alcohol, became more abusive towards Heathcliff.
Heathcliff, heartbroken by Catherine’s engagement to Edgar Linton due to social class differences, leaves Wuthering Heights for three years. Returning wealthy, he discovers Catherine has married Edgar. Heathcliff’s motive is revenge on Hindley, whom he lends money to, anticipating Hindley’s inability to repay. After Hindley’s death, Heathcliff gains control of Wuthering Heights. He manipulates Isabella Linton into marriage, not out of love but to acquire Thrushcross Grange and Edgar’s wealth, adding complexity to the relationships.
Heathcliff orchestrates a meeting between Linton and Cathy, imprisoning her and forcing marriage. After Edgar and sickly Linton’s deaths, Heathcliff gains control of both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange.
Little Cathy becomes a servant in Wuthering Heights, and Thrushcross Grange is rented to Mr. Lockwood. Nelly concludes her story, and Lockwood leaves Wuthering Heights. Returning six months later, he discovers Heathcliff’s death. Hareton and little Cathy inherit both properties, planning to marry on New Year’s Day. Lockwood visits Heathcliff and Catherine’s grave after hearing the tale.
Mr Earnshaw Brings Heathcliff to Wuthering Heights
This event is central to the story as Heathcliff is taken off the streets into a family. Also, this is important because bringing Heathcliff into the family will trigger anger and hate inside of Hindley. Another significance of this action is that it births the love adventure between Catherine and Heathcliff.
Hindley Comes Back from College to Wuthering Heights
Hindley comes back to Wuthering Heights with his new wife Frances, Hindley is completely in love with her and will do anything for her. Hindley also comes back with anger towards Heathcliff. The death of Earnshaw also affords Hindley to show gross animosity to Heathcliff which will pave the way for other events to take their course fully.
Catherine Gets Attacked by the Linton’s Dog
This event adds a sudden twist which further intensifies the plot of the story. Catherine is attacked by the Linton’s dog and the Lintons offer to let her stay in the house until she heals. Catherine accepts the offer and she is taught how to be proper. When she comes back from Thrushcross Grange, she acts differently.
Frances’ death is important to the book because after she dies, Hindley becomes extremely depressed. While trying to cope with his depression, he starts to drink excessively. He becomes an acholic and is an awful father figure for Heathcliff and Catherine.
Heathcliff Runs Away From Wuthering Heights
Heathcliff runs away after hearing a conversation between Catherine and Nelly but Heathcliff does not know that Catherine never meant to say anything mean about Heathcliff. Catherine spends the whole night looking for Heathcliff. By the time Catherine comes back inside, she is very sick
Catherine and Edgar Get Married
Catherine does not truly love Edgar but she marries his because of his social status. The union really hurts the relationship between Heathcliff and Catherine. This makes Heathcliff determine to have his revenge on Edgar.
Heathcliff Marries Isabella
Heathcliff marriage to Isabella is not borne out of love but a subtle vengeance mission. Edgar tries to discourage his sister from marrying him but she is resolute. Edgar disowns Isabella who does not know how awful Heathcliff is until it is too late as they are already married.
Heathcliff Imprisons Cathy and Nelly
Heathcliff keeps Nelly and Cathy locked up in Wuthering Heights until Cathy marries Linton. Linton becomes rude and mean. Nelly is locked up in Wuthering Heights longer than Cathy.
Linton and Cathy Get Married
Cathy agrees to marry Linton though she does not love him as she used to. This is important because she mostly agrees to Linton so she can see her father before he dies.
Mr Lockwood Comes to Wuthering Heights
The significance of this event is that it reveals the stories between the families living at Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. Even though Mr Lockwood is nosy, he is very helpful to figuring out the story behind Heathcliff, Cathy and others living at Wuthering Heights. It is also important because we learn about Nelly’s personality.
THEMES IN WUTHERING HEIGHTS” by Emily Bronte
The idea of revenge is a major element in the novel – Hindley is revenged on Heathcliff for being displaced from their father’s affection, and Heathcliff takes his revenge on everyone – on Hindley for his cruelty, on Catherine for marrying someone else, on the Lintons for taking Catherine away from him and on Hareton because he’s the son of his enemy.
Edgar Linton also takes revenge on his sister for marrying Heathcliff by cutting her off and refusing to have any contact with her, which is harsh since she has no one else to turn to after she discovers Heathcliff’s true, cruel nature. However, Edgar does not take it to extremes: he agrees to her dying wish that her son Linton should come to live at Thrushcross Grange.
Revenge becomes a cycle: the cruelty that Hindley inflicts on Heathcliff results in Heathcliff’s return to take Hindley’s wealth; Heathcliff also treats Hindley’s son Hareton with the same cruelty, denying him education and class, and turning him into a labourer on the land. The only way to break the cycle is through love – the love between the younger Catherine and Hareton. Their likeness to Catherine stops Heathcliff from continuing with his vengeful plan, which is unspecified, and instead he becomes obsessed with Catherine and her ghost.
NATURE VERSUS CIVILIZATION
The theme of nature versus civilization is integral to the Romantic aspect of “Wuthering Heights,” set in the wild Yorkshire moors, far from Victorian society’s civilized centers. Heathcliff, the wild orphan, embodies nature, while the middle-class families represent civilization. Catherine, the central character, symbolizes both as she transitions from wildness on the moors to a civilized demeanor.
The conflict between nature and civilization contributes to Catherine’s inability to marry Heathcliff, causing widespread unhappiness. The novel’s happy ending involves the union of nature and civilization through the younger Catherine and Hareton, reflecting a harmonious synthesis of the two themes.
The supernatural is symbolised in the ghost of Catherine, who Lockwood hears as the novel opens, and the sighting of the spirits of Catherine and Heathcliff together as the novel closes. The powerful scene of Heathcliff’s grief after Catherine’s death leads to him calling on her sprit to walk the earth and haunt him rather than rest peacefully. Her spirit does seem to haunt him towards the end of his life, as he says he sees her “in every cloud, in every tree”, but this makes him “happy”.
Nelly Dean envisages Heathcliff as a goblin, a ghoul and a vampire, wondering where he came from to create such destruction within the family. As he is an orphan of unknown origin she can imagine him coming from some strange, unnatural parentage.
However, she realises that it is only superstition: is this supernatural “black thing” a metaphor for the darkness in Heathcliff’s character? Isabella also calls Heathcliff a “monster”, suggesting he is not human. Hindley also accuses Hareton of regarding him as a “goblin”.
The Gothic elements are not emphasised, but they are treated as genuine – Lockwood, depicted as the proper, clear-headed outsider, is the one to first witness the supernatural.
In Wuthering Heights, several kinds of love stories can be found, such us between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, Catherine Earnshaw and Edgar Linton, and little Catherine and Hareton Earnshaw. Nevertheless, love story between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw seems to be the centre of Wuthering Heights.
Catherine and Heathcliff’s passion for one another is very strong. They have love power beyond ordinary people. Catherine, even though she has married Edgar Linton, still loves Heathcliff so much.
Catherine thinks that marriage cannot separate them because they are a soul mate and cannot possibly live apart. As Catherine said “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” Even at the end of Catherine’s life, at the time of her illness she only remembers Heathcliff. When she is dying, the person she wants to meet is still Heathcliff, not Edgar her husband.
CHARACTERS IN WUTHERING HEIGHTS” by Emily Bronte
Heathcliff emerges as a compelling character in “Wuthering Heights,” undergoing significant physical and character transformations. Initially, a ragged orphan found by Mr. Earnshaw, Heathcliff grows into a tall, handsome, and intelligent man during his three-year absence. His physical change is described by Nelly Dean, highlighting his newfound stature and dignified demeanor.
Heathcliff’s character evolves as well, starting as a patient and resilient child despite mistreatment by his stepbrother Hindley. As Hindley’s abuse intensifies, Heathcliff’s desire for revenge grows, leading to a cruel and abusive disposition upon his return to Wuthering Heights. The theme of revenge becomes a dominant force, shaping Heathcliff’s actions throughout the novel.
Catherine Earnshaw, the central female character in “Wuthering Heights,” is the daughter of Mr. Earnshaw, sister to Hindley, and the pivotal figure in the complex relationships with Heathcliff and Edgar. Known for her beauty, fiery nature, and dual character, Catherine oscillates between the wild, passionate self with Heathcliff and the lady-like demeanor with Edgar. Her marriage to Edgar marks a critical point in the novel, symbolizing a betrayal of her true nature and a departure from the untamed world of Wuthering Heights.
Despite her impetuous and proud nature, Catherine’s choice to marry Edgar for social status instead of her true love, Heathcliff, leads to her own destruction. Her love for Heathcliff is described as overwhelming and eternal, transcending even death. Ultimately, Catherine’s tragic demise comes from betraying her genuine feelings and making a societal-based marital choice.
The primary narrator, known as Ellen or Nelly, provides the novel’s perspective. A servant to the Earnshaws and Lintons for three generations, she is Hindley’s foster sister and is involved in the lives of all characters. Though a gossip, she is educated, articulate, and a capable caregiver. While Nelly’s narrative skills are evident, her reliability is questionable due to inconsistencies, suggesting she may embellish her role. Despite meddling, she lacks manipulative prowess. Nelly’s narration intertwines her life with the Earnshaws, Lintons, and Heathcliff, making it an implicit autobiography with no distinct personal storyline.
Introduced as a child in the Linton family, he resides at Thrushcross Grange. Edgar’s style and manners are in sharp contrast to those of Heathcliff, who instantly dislikes him, and of Catherine, who is drawn to him. Catherine marries him instead of Heathcliff because of his higher social status, with disastrous results for all characters in the story. He dotes on his wife and later his daughter.
She is seen only in relation to other characters. She views Heathcliff romantically, despite Catherine’s warnings, and becomes an unwitting participant in his plot for revenge against Edgar. Heathcliff marries her but treats her abusively. While pregnant, she escapes to London and gives birth to a son, Linton. She entrusts her son to her brother Edgar when she dies.
Catherine’s elder brother, Hindley, despises Heathcliff immediately and bullies him throughout their childhood before his father sends him away to college. Hindley returns with his wife, Frances after Mr Earnshaw dies. He is more mature but his hatred of Heathcliff remains the same. After France’s death, Hindley reverts to destructive behavior, neglects his son, and ruins the Earnshaw family by drinking and gambling to excess. Heathcliff beats Hindley up at one point after Hindley fails in his attempt to kill Heathcliff with a pistol. He dies less than a year after Catherine and leaves his son with nothing.
The son of Hindley and Frances, raised at first by Nelly but soon by Heathcliff. Joseph works to instill a sense of pride in the Earnshaw heritage (even though Hareton will not inherit Earnshaw property, because Hindley has mortgaged it to Heathcliff). Heathcliff, in contrast, teaches him vulgarities as a way of avenging himself on Hindley.
Hareton speaks with an accent similar to Joseph’s and occupies a position similar to that of a servant at Wuthering Heights, unaware that he has been done out of his inheritance. He can only read his name. In appearance, he reminds Heathcliff of his aunt, Catherine.
The son of Heathcliff and Isabella. A weak child, his early years spent with his mother in the south of England. He learns of his father’s identity and existence only after his mother dies, when he is twelve. In his selfishness and capacity for cruelty he resembles Heathcliff; physically, he resembles his mother. He marries Cathy Linton because his father, who terrifies him, directs him to do so. He dies aftenNard from illness related to tuberculosis.
A servant at Wuthering Height for sixty years. He is rigid, self-righteous Christian and lacks any trace of genuine kindness or humanity. He speaks a broad Yorkshire dialect and hates nearly everyone in the novel.
MR AND MRS LINTON
They are Edgar and Isabella’s parents who raise their children to be well behaved, educated and sophisticated. Mr Linton also serves as the magistrate of Gimmerton, as his son does in later year.
MR AND MRS EARNSHAW
Catherine‘s and Hindley’s father, Mr Earnshaw is the master of Wuthering Heights at the beginning of Nelly’s story and is described as an irascible but loving and kindhearted man. He favours his adopted son, Heathcliff, which causes trouble in the family. In contrast, his wife mistrusts Heathcliff from their first encounter.
A servant to Heathcliff at Wuthering Heights during the period following Catherine’s death. Although she is kind to Lockwood, she doesn’t like or help Cathy at Wuthering Heights because of Cathy’s arrogance and Heathcliff’s instruction.
Hindley’s ailing wife and mother of Hareton Earnshaw. She is described as somewhat silly and is obviously from a humble family. Frances dies not long after the birth of her son.