Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights Themes & Plot Development

Essay by IPOTODAYHigh School, 12th gradeA+, February 2004

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EmilyBrontë's Wuthering Heights is a novel of revenge and romantic love. It tells the stories of two families: the Earnshaws who reside at Wuthering Heights, at the edge of the moors, and the genteel and refined Lintons who reside at Thrushcross Grange. When Mr. Earnshaw brings home a gipsy to live in the family, complex feelings of jealousy and rivalry as well as a soulful alliance between Heathcliff and Catherine develop. Believing that he has been rejected by Catherine, Heathcliff leaves to make his fortune. When he returns, Catherine is married to Edgar Linton, but she still feels deeply attached to Heathcliff. Disaster follows for the two families as Heathcliff takes revenge on them all. Only the second generation, young Cathy and Hareton Earnshaw, survive to go beyond this destructive passion in their mutual love.

Structurally the novel is rich and complex. There are two generations of characters, and the themes and relationships of the first generation are reflected in the second but with differences that increase our understanding.

Brontë's use of point of view leads to many questions about the narrators who control the unraveling of events. The main characters are seen through a series of mirrors, each causing a certain amount of distortion. Without an omniscient voice controlling sympathies, the reader must get inside the characters' minds, the one telling the story as well as the one about whom the story is being told. Thus, this complex web of relationships and motives leads to intense psychological analysis and in this way the novel mirrors life itself. Knowledge of the novel occurs in pieces and is always subject to revision.

The novel manages to be a number of things: a romance that brilliantly challenges the basic presumptions of the "romantic"; a "gothic" that evolves--with an absolutely inevitable...