Bronte ~ Haunting Story

Wuthering Heights is one of the world’s greatest, haunting tales of unrequited love.

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2e45dc2d-bd86-4b9f-81b7-313c868b03c2-jpgcatherine-and-heathcliffWuthering Heights is Emily Brontë’s only novel. Written between October 1845 and June 1846, Wuthering Heights was published in 1847 under the pseudonym “Ellis Bell”; Brontë died the following year, aged 30. Wuthering Heights and Anne Brontë’s Agnes Grey were accepted by publisher Thomas Newby before the success of their sister Charlotte’s novel, Jane Eyre. After Emily’s death, Charlotte edited the manuscript of Wuthering Heights and arranged for the edited version to be published as a posthumous second edition in 1850.

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Although Wuthering Heights is now widely regarded as a classic of English literature, contemporary reviews for the novel were deeply polarised; it was considered controversial because its depiction of mental and physical cruelty was unusually stark, and it challenged strict Victorian ideals of the day, including religious hypocrisy, morality, social classes and gender inequality. The English poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti referred to it as “A fiend of a book – an incredible monster […] The action is laid in hell, – only it seems places and people have English names there.”

 

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Catherine And Heathcliff.

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In the second half of the 19th century, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre was considered the best of the Brontë sisters’ works, but following later re-evaluation, critics began to argue that Wuthering Heights was superior. The book has inspired adaptations, including film, radio and television dramatisations, a musical by Bernard J. Taylor, a ballet, operas (by Bernard Herrmann, Carlisle Floyd, and Frédéric Chaslin), a role-playing game, and a 1978 song by Kate Bush.

Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights – Official Music Video

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Silhouettes made via book pages.

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Yessica Honstein.

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Plot
Opening (Chapters 1 to 3)
In 1801, Lockwood, a wealthy man from the South of England who is seeking peace and recuperation, rents Thrushcross Grange in Yorkshire. He visits his landlord, Heathcliff, who lives in a remote moorland farmhouse, Wuthering Heights. There Lockwood finds an odd assemblage: Heathcliff seems to be a gentleman, but his manners are uncouth; the reserved mistress of the house is in her mid-teens; and a young man who seems to be a member of the family, yet dresses and speaks as if he is a servant.

Snowed in, Lockwood is grudgingly allowed to stay and is shown to a bedchamber where he notices books and graffiti left by a former inhabitant named Catherine. He falls asleep and has a nightmare in which he sees the ghostly Catherine trying to enter through the window. He cries out in fear, rousing Heathcliff, who rushes into the room. Lockwood is convinced that what he saw was real. Heathcliff, believing Lockwood to be right, examines the window and opens it, hoping to allow Catherine’s spirit to enter. When nothing happens, Heathcliff shows Lockwood to his own bedroom and returns to keep watch at the window.

At sunrise Heathcliff escorts Lockwood back to Thrushcross Grange. Lockwood asks the housekeeper, Nelly Dean, about the family at Wuthering Heights, and she tells him the tale.

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Heathcliff’s childhood (Chapters 4 to 17)
Thirty years earlier, the owner of Wuthering Heights is Mr. Earnshaw, who lives with his teenage son Hindley and his daughter Catherine. On a trip to Liverpool, Earnshaw encounters a homeless boy, described as a “dark-skinned gypsy in aspect”. He adopts the boy and names him Heathcliff. Hindley feels that Heathcliff has supplanted him in his father’s affections and becomes bitterly jealous. Catherine and Heathcliff become friends and spend hours each day playing on the moors. They grow close.

Hindley is sent to college. Three years later Earnshaw dies and Hindley becomes the landowner; he is now master of Wuthering Heights. He returns to live there with his new wife, Frances. He allows Heathcliff to stay but only as a servant.

A few months after Hindley’s return, Heathcliff and Catherine walk to Thrushcross Grange to spy on the Lintons, who live there. After being discovered they try to run away but are caught. Catherine is injured by the Lintons’ dog and taken into the house to recuperate, while Heathcliff is sent home. Catherine stays with the Lintons. The Lintons are landed gentry and Catherine is influenced by their fine appearance and genteel manners. When she returns to Wuthering Heights her appearance and manners are more ladylike, and she laughs at Heathcliff’s unkempt appearance. The next day, knowing that the Lintons are to visit, Heathcliff tries to dress up, in an effort to impress Catherine, but he and Edgar Linton get into an argument and Hindley humiliates Heathcliff by locking him in the attic. Catherine tries to comfort Heathcliff, but he vows revenge on Hindley.

The following year, Frances Earnshaw gives birth to a son, named Hareton, but she dies a few months later. Hindley descends into drunkenness. Two more years pass, and Catherine and Edgar Linton become friends, while she becomes more distant from Heathcliff. Edgar visits Catherine while Hindley is away and they declare themselves lovers soon afterwards.

Catherine confesses to Nelly that Edgar has proposed marriage and she has accepted, although her love for Edgar is not comparable to her love for Heathcliff, whom she cannot marry because of his low social status and lack of education. She hopes to use her position as Edgar’s wife to raise Heathcliff’s standing. Heathcliff overhears her say that it would “degrade” her to marry him (but not how much she loves him), and he runs away and disappears without a trace. Distraught over Heathcliff’s departure, Catherine makes herself ill. Nelly and Edgar begin to pander to her every whim to prevent her from becoming ill again.

Three years pass. Edgar and Catherine marry and go to live together at Thrushcross Grange, where Catherine enjoys being “lady of the manor”. Six months later, Heathcliff returns, now a wealthy gentleman. Catherine is delighted, but Edgar is not. Edgar’s sister, Isabella, soon falls in love with Heathcliff, who despises her, but encourages the infatuation as a means of revenge. One day, he embraces Isabella, leading to an argument with Edgar. Upset, Catherine locks herself in her room and begins to make herself ill again.

Heathcliff takes up residence at Wuthering Heights and spends his time gambling with Hindley and teaching Hareton bad habits. Hindley dissipates his wealth and mortgages the farmhouse to Heathcliff to pay his debts. Heathcliff elopes with Isabella Linton. Two months later, they return to Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff hears that Catherine is ill and, with Nelly’s help, visits her secretly. However, Catherine is pregnant. The following day she gives birth to a daughter, Cathy, shortly before dying.

After Catherine’s funeral, Isabella leaves Heathcliff, takes refuge in the South of England and gives birth to a son, Linton. Hindley dies six months after Catherine, and Heathcliff thus finds himself master of Wuthering Heights.

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Heathcliff’s maturity (Chapters 18 to 31)

Twelve years pass. Catherine’s daughter Cathy has become a beautiful, high-spirited girl. Edgar learns that his sister Isabella is dying, so he leaves to retrieve her son Linton in order to adopt and educate him. Cathy, who has rarely left home, takes advantage of her father’s absence to venture further afield. She rides over the moors to Wuthering Heights and discovers that she has not one but two cousins: Hareton, in addition to Linton. She also lets it be known that her father has gone to fetch Linton. When Edgar returns with Linton, a weak and sickly boy, Heathcliff insists that he live at Wuthering Heights.

Three years pass. Walking on the moors, Nelly and Cathy encounter Heathcliff, who takes them to Wuthering Heights to see Linton and Hareton. Heathcliff hopes that Linton and Cathy will marry, so that Linton will become the heir to Thrushcross Grange. Linton and Cathy begin a secret friendship, echoing the childhood friendship between their respective parents, Heathcliff and Catherine.

The following year, Edgar becomes very ill and takes a turn for the worse while Nelly and Cathy are out on the moors, where Heathcliff and Linton trick them into entering Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff keeps them captive to enable the marriage of Cathy and Linton to take place. After five days, Nelly is released and later, with Linton’s help, Cathy escapes. She returns to the Grange to see her father shortly before he dies.

Now master of both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange, Cathy’s father-in-law, Heathcliff insists on her returning to live at Wuthering Heights. Soon after she arrives Linton dies. Hareton tries to be kind to Cathy, but she withdraws from the world.

At this point, Nelly’s tale catches up to the present day (1801). Time passes and, after being ill for a period, Lockwood grows tired of the moors and informs Heathcliff that he will be leaving Thrushcross Grange.

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Rovina Cai – Wuthering Heights.

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Ending (Chapters 32 to 34)

Eight months later, Lockwood returns to the area by chance. Given that his tenancy at Thrushcross Grange is still valid, he decides to stay there again. He finds Nelly living at Wuthering Heights and enquires what has happened since he left. She explains that she moved to Wuthering Heights to replace the housekeeper, Zillah, who had left.

Hareton has an accident and is confined to the farmhouse. During his convalescence, he and Cathy overcome their mutual antipathy and became close. While their friendship develops, Heathcliff begins to act strangely and has visions of Catherine. He stops eating and, after four days, is found dead in Catherine’s old room. He is buried next to Catherine.

Lockwood learns that Hareton and Cathy plan to marry on New Year’s Day. As he gets ready to leave, he passes the graves of Catherine, Edgar and Heathcliff and pauses to contemplate the quiet of the moors.

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Rovina Cai.

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Lunaesque Creative Photography – Wuthering Heights

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Rovina Cai.

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Characters

Heathcliff: Found, presumably orphaned, on the streets of Liverpool and taken by Mr Earnshaw to Wuthering Heights, where he is reluctantly cared for by the family. He and Catherine grow close and their love is the central theme of the first volume. His revenge against the man she chooses to marry and its consequences are the central theme of the second volume. Heathcliff has been considered a Byronic hero, but critics have pointed out that he reinvents himself at various points, making his character hard to fit into any single type. Because of his ambiguous position in society and his lack of status, underlined by the fact that “Heathcliff” is both his given name and his surname, his character has been a favourite subject of Marxist criticism.

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Catherine Earnshaw: First introduced to the reader after her death, through Lockwood’s discovery of her diary and carvings. The description of her life is confined almost entirely to the first volume. She seems unsure whether she is, or wants to become, more like Heathcliff, or aspires to be more like Edgar. Some critics have argued that her decision to marry Edgar Linton is allegorically a rejection of nature and a surrender to culture, a choice with fateful consequences for all the other characters. Literary critics have examined her character through many different lenses, including those of psychoanalytic theory and feminist theory.

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Wuthering Heights for The Folio Society by Rovina Cai.

Edgar Linton: 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. From the perspective of feminist theory, this exemplifies the problems inherent in a social structure in which women can gain prestige and financial security only through marriage.

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Wuthering Heights by Messalyn.

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Timeline
1500: The stone above the front door of Wuthering Heights, bearing the name of Hareton Earnshaw, is inscribed, presumably to mark the completion of the house.
1757: Hindley Earnshaw born (summer)
1762: Edgar Linton born
1765: Catherine Earnshaw born (summer); Isabella Linton born (late 1765)
1771: Heathcliff brought to Wuthering Heights by Mr Earnshaw (late summer)
1773: Mrs Earnshaw dies (spring)
1774: Hindley sent off to college
1775: Hindley marries Frances; Mr Earnshaw dies and Hindley comes back (October); Heathcliff and Catherine visit Thrushcross Grange for the first time; Catherine remains behind (November), and then returns to Wuthering Heights (Christmas Eve)
1778: Hareton born (June); Frances dies
1780: Heathcliff runs away from Wuthering Heights; Mr and Mrs Linton both die
1783: Catherine has married Edgar (March); Heathcliff comes back (September)
1784: Heathcliff marries Isabella (February); Catherine dies and Cathy born (20 March); Hindley dies; Linton Heathcliff born (September)
1797: Isabella dies; Cathy visits Wuthering Heights and meets Hareton; Linton brought to Thrushcross Grange and then taken to Wuthering Heights
1800: Cathy meets Heathcliff and sees Linton again (20 March)
1801: Cathy and Linton are married (August); Edgar dies (August); Linton dies (September); Mr Lockwood goes to Thrushcross Grange and visits Wuthering Heights, beginning his narrative
1802: Mr Lockwood goes back to London (January); Heathcliff dies (April); Mr Lockwood comes back to Thrushcross Grange (September)
1803: Cathy plans to marry Hareton (1 January)

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Infinity scarf featuring text from Wuthering Heights.

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Gothic novel

Ellen Moers, in Literary Women, developed a feminist theory that connects women writers, including Emily Brontë, with the gothic fiction. Catherine Earnshaw has been identified by some critics, as a type of gothic demon, because she “shape-shifts” in order to marry Edgar Linton, by assuming a domesticity, which is contrary to her true nature. It has also been suggested that Catherine’s relationship with Heathcliff conforms to the “dynamics of the Gothic romance, in that the woman falls prey to the more or less demonic instincts of her lover, suffers from the violence of his feelings, and at the end is entangled by his thwarted passion.”

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Publication

1847 edition

The original text, as published by Thomas Cautley Newby in 1847, is available online in two parts. The novel was first published together with Anne Brontë’s Agnes Grey in a three-volume format: Wuthering Heights occupied the first two volumes, while Agnes Grey made up the third.

1850 edition

In 1850, when a second edition of Wuthering Heights was due, Charlotte Brontë edited the original text, altering punctuation, correcting spelling errors and making Joseph’s thick Yorkshire dialect less opaque. Writing to her publisher, W.S. Williams, she mentioned that “It seems to me advisable to modify the orthography of the old servant Joseph’s speeches; for though, as it stands, it exactly renders the Yorkshire dialect to a Yorkshire ear, yet I am sure Southerns must find it unintelligible; and thus one of the most graphic characters in the book is lost on them.” An essay written by Irene Wiltshire on dialect and speech in the novel examines some of the changes Charlotte made.

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Heathcliff shouting for Cathy.

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Victoria Frances

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Wuthering Heights Family Tree.

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Wuthering Heights by Fritz Eichenberg.

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Wuthering Heights for The Folio Society by Rovina Cai.

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Wuthering Heights ~ Emily Bronte.

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Inspiration for locations

There are several theories about which real building or buildings (if any) may have inspired Wuthering Heights. One common candidate is Top Withens, a ruined farmhouse located in an isolated area near the Haworth Parsonage, although its structure does not match that of the farmhouse described in the novel. Top Withens was first suggested as the model by Ellen Nussey, a friend of Charlotte Brontë, to Edward Morison Wimperis, an artist who was commissioned to illustrate the Brontë sisters’ novels in 1872.

The second possibility is High Sunderland Hall, near Halifax, now demolished. This Gothic edifice was located near Law Hill, where Emily worked briefly as a governess in 1838. While it was perhaps grander than Wuthering Heights, the hall had grotesque embellishments of griffins and misshapen nude males similar to those described by Lockwood in Chapter 1 of the novel.

The inspiration for Thrushcross Grange has long been traced to Ponden Hall, near Haworth, which is very small. Shibden Hall, near Halifax, is perhaps more likely. The Thrushcross Grange that Emily describes is rather unusual. It sits within an enormous park, as does Shibden Hall. By comparison, the park at Chatsworth (the home of the Duke of Devonshire) is over two miles (3.2 km) long but, as the house sits near the middle, it is no more than a mile and a half (2.4 km) from the lodge to the house. Considering that Edgar Linton apparently does not even have a title, this seems unlikely. There is no building close to Haworth that has a park anywhere near this size, but there are a few houses that might have inspired some elements. Shibden Hall has several features that match descriptions in the novel.

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Tom Hardy – Wuthering Heights.

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Rovina Cai.

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Film

The earliest known film adaptation of Wuthering Heights was filmed in England in 1920 and it was directed by A. V. Bramble. It is unknown if any prints still exist.

More HERE

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Photograph discovered possibly of the three Bronte sisters – brontesisters.co.uk

The Reader’s Guide to Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights” HERE

 

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