Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte Summary & Analysis, Comprehensive Chapter by Chapter Summary, Background, Plot, Major Events, Settings, Theme, Major Characters Summary and Analysis for JAMB UTME, NECO and WAEC Literature Students.
Emily Jane Bronte‘ was an English Novelist, poet and considered a classic English Literature. She was born on 30 July 1818 in Thornton, Yorkshire, England. She was the fifth child of Patrick Bronte and Maria Branwell Bronte. In 1820, shortly after the birth of Emily’s younger sister, Anne, the family moved to Haworth. ln Haworth, Patrick was employed as perpetual curator. Here, the children developed their literary talents.
At the age of six, Emilyjoined her sisters Elizabeth, Maria and Charlotte at Clergy Daughters’ School at Cowan Bridge. Unfortunately, Elizabeth and Maria became seriously ill of tuberculosis and returned home. In 1825, Elizabeth and Maria died of that disease and as the death of their siblings Bronte’s father removed both Emily and Charlotte from the school as well.
The remaining Bronté’s three children; Charlotte, Emily and Anne are educated at home in Haworth. The children began to write stories and fiction at home. In 1835, at the age of seventeen, Emily left home for school and attended Roe Head Girls’ School where Charlotte worked as a teacher. However, they didn’t stay long and came back to Haworth.
Coming from a poor family, Bronte tried to find work She became a teacher at the Law Hill School in September 1837, but she left her position the following March. Bronte and his sister Charlotte went to study in Brussels in 1842, but the death of their aunt Elizabeth forced them to return home.
In 1844, Emily recollected all the poems she had written into two notebooks. One was labelled Gondal Poems, the other was unlabelled. Charlotte discovered the notebooks and insisted Emily to publish the poems. At first, Emily rejected but she changed her mind when her sister, Anna brought her own manuscript and revealed that she had written poems in secret.
The poems were published in one volume as Poem by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. The book only sold a few copies.
After Published Ellis Bell, Emily Bronte published her work Wuthering Heights. She died of tuberculosis on December 19, 1848, nearly two months after her brother, Branwell, succumbed to the same disease. Her sister Anne also fell ill and died of tuberculosis the following May.
Emily Bronte never knew her achievement with her only novel because she died a year after the publication.
Wuthering Heights is now considered as classic novel of English Literature.
Wuthering Heights is a classical novel that revolves around love, fantasy, Gothicism, and revenge. The central character, Heatchliff, has cruel figure. He is very sadistic taking vengeance on people who have hurt him. Revenge blinds his heart blind, anger darkens it and hatred makes it boil excessively until he exerts vengeance on his offenders.
The story began with a man named Lockwood who visited the home of his landlord, Heathcliff, to rent the house called Thrushcross Grange. Heathcliff lived in a house called Wuthering Heights, about four miles away from Thrushcross Grange. Wuthering Heights and everything inside of it brought a big curiosity for Lockwood so he asked Nelly Dean, a servant in Thrushcross Grange who used to be servant in Wuthering Heights, to tell the story. Nelly told the story and jumped into the past. Nelly started to work as a servant in Mr. Earnshaw (the owner of the Wuthering Heights) as a young girl.
One day, Mr. Earnshaw had a trip to Liverpool and brought home an orphan named Heathcliff. Mr. Earnshaw took care of Heathcliff and raised him with his own children, Hindley and Catherine. Catherine loved him, but Hindley did not like him because of his jealousy toward Heathcliff for what his father had done to him. After Mrs. Earnshaw died, Mr.Earnshaw sent Hindley away to college in order to make Heathcliff safe from Hindley. He kept Heathcliff nearby and became his favourite son. A few moments later, Mr. Earnshaw died and Hindley returned back to Wuthering Heights with his wife, Frances. Having gone a long time for college did not change Hindley’s cruelty toward Heathcliff. Hindley decided to make Heathcliff ‘5 life miserable and treated him as a servant. On the other side, Catherine and Heathcliff became closer.
One night, Catherine and Heathcliff played and wandered to Thruscross Grange. There lived Linton family. Suddenly, Catherine was bitten by a dog and she was forced to stay in Thruscross Grange by Mrs. Linton for five weeks. Catherine became closer with Edgar Linton, the son of Mrs Linton and her relationship with Heathcliff became more complicated. Frances dies after giving birth to a son, Hareton. Hindley becomes an alcoholic because of his wife’s death and also becomes more abusive toward Heathcliff.
Heathcliff turns miserable when his only love, Catherine gets engaged to Edgar Linton because of social class. Heathcliff decides to stay away from Wuthering Heights and goes away for three years. He returns with much money and discovers that Catherine has married Edgar Linton. His return was to take revenge on Hindley. Heatchliff lends money to Hindley because he knows that Hindley can not pay the debts therefore when Hindley died, he could acquire Wuthering Heights. Now a wealthy gentleman, Heathcliff encourages Isabella Linton’s infatuation with him and they later marry. The relationship was more complicated when Heathcliff married Issabela Linton because he does not really love her but to acquire Thruscross Grange and Edgar’s wealth.
Catherine takes ill and soon dies after giving birth to baby girl who is named Cathy. Unable to resist Heathcliff’s cruelty any longer, Isabella runs away to London and gives birth to Heathcliff’s son whom she named Linton Heathcliff. One day, little Cathy wanders through the moors and discovers Wuthering Heights. In Wuthering Heights she meets Hareton and becomes friend with him. Hareton becomes an uneducated man because of Heathcliff’s revenge on Hindley.
After that, Isabella Linton dies and Linton Heathcliff comes back to Wuthering Heights and lived with Heathcliff. Later, Cathy meets Linton and begins a secret romance with him. Linton asks her to visit and nurse him. Later, it is revealed that Linton asked little Catherine to nurse him because he is forced by Heathcliff. Sick Linton would be used by Heathcliff as a reason for revenge because if Linton married little Catherine, his claim upon Thrusscross Grange would be legal and his revenge upon Edgar Linton would be complete.
One day, Heathcliff arranged meeting between Linton and Cathy where they meet Heathcliff who imprisons little Catherine and forces her to marry Linton. Soon after, Edgar dies and sick Linton also gives up the ghost paving way for Heathcliff who controls both Wuthering Heights and Thrusscross Grange. Little Cathy lives in Wuthering Heights as a common servant and Thrusscross Grange is rented to Mr. Lockwood. Nelly’s story is finished and Lockwood ends his tenancy toward Wuthering Heights. Six months later, he comes back to visit Nelly and found out that Heathcliff is dead. Hareton and little Cathy inherit both Wuthering Height and Thrusscross Grange. They plan to marry on New Year’s Day. After hearing the story, Lockwood visits Heathcliff and Catherine’s grave.
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.
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
This theme is part of the Romantic aspect to the book Taking place out in the wilds of the Yorkshire moors, the novel is set well away from the staid and civilised centres of Victorian society.
There are many ways in which you can see the opposition explored in the novel. You could argue that Heathcliff, the wild orphan boy who loves the moors, represents nature, whereas the middle-class family he joins are civilisation. Alternatively, both nature and civilisation can be seen in Catherine – she runs wild and natural on the moors, until she hurts her ankle; when she returns from the Linton household she is civilised, symbolically dressed in white, and frightened of her dress getting dirty. The conflict between nature and civilisation can be blamed for the failure of Catherine to marry Heathcliff, leading to the unhappiness that is visited on everyone.
The final happy ending comes with the combination of nature and civilisation, as represented by the younger Catherine and Hareton. Hareton is raised be a completely natural person, because Heathcliff refuses to let him be ‘civilised’ by education, books or manners (although the fact that Hareton tries to read anyway is a sign that he is searching for civilisation).
Catherine begins as the completely civilised child, although she loves the outdoors. At the end of the novel the pair move smoothly from a reading lesson to walking together on the moors, ending the opposition between 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.
Heathcliff becomes one of the strengths of the novel Wuthering Heights. This is because Heathcliff is interesting character. Heathcliff is dynamic character which his physical appearance and characteristics develop from the beginning into the end of the novel.
Heathcliff is a little orphan that is found in the Liverpool Street by Mr.Earnshaw. He is tall, dark and athletic. He also has a black hair and thick brow. When he first enters Wuthering Heights, Nelly Dean describes him as a dirty and ragged child with a black hair, “I had a peep at a dirty, ragged, blackhaired child; big enough both to walk and talk”. However, after three years of his absence since he has left Wuthering Height, he has transformed. He is no longer a dirty kid, he becomes a handsome, tall, athletic and intelligent man. Nelly describes Heathcliff as follows: “He had grown a tall, athletic, well-formed man; beside whom [Edgar] seemed quite slender and youth- Iike. His upright carriage suggested the idea of his having been in the army. His countenance was much older in expression and decision of feature than Mr. Linton’s; it looked intelligent, and retained no marks of former degradation. A half-civilised ferocity lurked yet in the depressed brows and eyes full of black fire, but it was subdued; and his manner was even dignified: quite divested of roughness, though stern for grace”. Heathcliff’s character also develops. This is what makes Heathcliff character interesting. At first, Heathcliff is a patient and though child. Even though hisjealous stepbrother always mistreats and bullies him throughout his childhood, Heathcliff accepts it because Catherine is always there for him. That makes the misery more bearable for Heathcliff. When Hindley becomes master of Wuthering Height after the death of Mr.Earnshaw, he becomes more abusive toward Heathcliff. Hindley degrades Heathcliff into a common servant and stops his education. Being mistreated by Hindley, he wants to seek revenge toward Hindley. The revenge culminates when he overhears the conversation between Catherine and Nelly that Catherine will marry Edgar Linton due to social status. He runs away, filled with hatred for all who have hurt him. When he comes back to Wuthering Heights, he is totally different. He is no longer a poor child, he changes into a cruel and abusive person. Heathcliff’s revenge is getting brutal, even to the Hindley and Egdar’s younger generation. His revenge story dominates the story and appears throughout the novel.
Catherine Earnshaw is the main female protagonist of the novel “Wuthering Heights”. She is the daughter of Mr. Earnshaw , sister of Hindley, foster sister and true love of Heathcliff , wife of Edgar, mother of Cathy . There are basically two sides to Catherine: Catherine Earnshaw and Catherine Linton. (She also fantasizes about a third, Catherine Heathcliff-which her daughter later becomes.) Gorgeous and fiery with dark curls and penetrating eyes, Catherine is a woman in conflict- she craves the luxury, security, and serenity of ultra-civilized Edgar, even as she runs wild across the moors with brooding
and unkempt Heathcliff. While Catherine is wild, willful and passionate, she also possesses a double character. Her five-week sojourn at the Grange awakens in her an appreciation of the civilized world. When she returns to the Heights, both manner and appearance have changed and is shocked in the appearance of Heathcliff and Edgar. From then on, Catherine adopts a split personality – an amusing lady-like disposition in the company of the Lintons and returning to her wild passionate self when accompanied by Heathcliff. The duality of Catherine’s character revealed a crisis point with her
marriage to Edgar – the one event in the novel above all others which determine the futures of the central characters. Catherine’s marriage to him is a betrayal of her nature. Not only has she broken with her kindred spirit, Heathcliff, but she has physically removed herself from the wildness and freedom from the Heights and the crags. This choice made by Catherine favored wealth, civilization and social position over her natural affinity with the untamed, uncivilized world represented by Heathcliff.
She loves Heathcliff with a huge and overwhelming passion. She is impetuous, proud, and sometimes haughty. Catherine is a Heathcliff’s stepsister and Heathcliff’s beloved. Catherine is very pretty, as Nelly describes in the book with the booniest eye, the sweetest smile and she also has long brown hair. Catherine becomes one of the strengths of the novel because she has a very complex character. She betrays herself and, in the end, it destroys herself. Catherine loves Heathcliff so much, she said that Heathcliff is her soul and their love is so strong even death can separate them. She also admits that her love for Linton will change over time, but her love for Heathcliff will remain the same. She chooses to marry Edgar Linton because Heacliff is below her social status and getting married with Heathcliff isjust degrading her status. She marries a man based on social class, and not love. It infuriates Heathcliff so much. Her wrong choice to marry Edgar Linton and betraying her own feeling ultimately destroys her, and she dies at an early age after giving birth to a daughter.
The main narrator of the novel is referred to as Ellen, her given name, to show respect, and as Nelly among those close to her. The novel is from her point of view; we see every character (aside from Lockwood ) through her eyes. Nelly is a servant to three generations of the Earnshaws and two of the Linton family. Humbly born, she regards herself nevertheless as Hindley’s foster-sister (they are the same age and her mother is his nurse). She grows up with Hindley, Catherine, and Heathcliff and works at both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. Nelly is confidante to many, including both Catherines, Isabella , and even Heathcliff. She cares for Hareton when he is an infant and is a mother figure to the younger Cathy . Though a servant, she is educated and articulate. Frequently, she does more than observe; she becomes very involved in her employers’ lives. Nelly has advanced not only house management and cleaning skills, but also an innate ability for telling a good story. She is also a capable caregiver. Above all else, Nelly is a gossip, not afraid of telling stories and injecting herself into everyone else’s business. It is unknown, though, how much of a liar Nelly is. Inconsistencies in her
story lead many to believe that she has a higher opinion of herself than others do. Nelly is a decent housekeeper and does have a knack for taking care of children, especially those very young. Despite her meddling, she is not a very good manipulator, as things very rarely go her way. To analyze the narration made by Nelly, it is apparent that her own life was accumulated with the life of Earnshwas, Lintons and Heathcliff. Thus, her narration is not only a story of the people mentioned there but also her own
autobiography. This narration is a pretty much evident of her own life. She has nothing of her own separated in the novel other than the related stories with the characters discussed.
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 to 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 participantin 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.
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