How Far Does the Weather in Wuthering Heights Add Depth to the Narrative

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Wuthering Heights was written by Emily Brontë in 1847 and it is now considered a classic of English literature; However, at the time of its publication, the work was strongly criticized mainly by strong language and violent scenes. Most critics in that time concluded that it was a man who wrote Wuthering Heights, because no woman could be so obscene to present such a savage narrative and portray an unhealthy passion. In Gothic Literature, especially in the 18th and 19th Centuries, storytelling strives to create an environment for readers to encounter the elements of horror and terror, making the authors reach the desired goals, the encounter with the deeper feelings.

For this, the setting and the details of the scenes of the novels is of fundamental importance, since they help in the construction of this effect, making possible the concretization of the literary genre; Thus, to maintain the climate that gender requires, Brontë creates a relationship between the weather and the reactions of the characters as metaphor for the conflict in human relationships in the novel. She uses a pathetic fallacy to set a mirror to Heathcliff and Catherine’s relationship, division and eventual reunion.

When Nelly begins to tell the story, she describes the setting before Mr. Earnshaw goes to Liverpool as a “fine summer morning” (Brontë 62). She affirms that from the moment Heathcliff appeared, the harmonious domestic environment of Wuthering Heights was gradually undoing. “It seemed a long while to us all—the three days of his absence—and often did little Cathy ask when he would be home. Mrs. Earnshaw expected him by supper-time on the third evening, and she put the meal off hour after hour; there were no signs of his coming, however, and at last the children got tired of running down to the gate to look. Then it grew dark” (Brontë 53).

In this passage, Nelly emphasizes that Heathcliff and her master arrived at the estate after three interminable days during a very dark night. Mr. Earnshaw creates an affection for Heathcliff and when he dies, Nelly describes the weather change. “A high wind blustered round the house and roared in the chimney: it sounded wild and stormy, yet it was not cold, and we were all together” (Brontë 74). In this passage, Brontë uses the changes of weather to show the transition from a calm to turbulent moment. Continuing the account, Nelly Dean emphasizes the formation of the strong bond of affection that united Catherine and Heathcliff, which gives rise to the main theme of Brontë’s novel: a love that defies the limits between life is the death.

Catherine seeks to demonstrate to Nelly that her strong link with Heathcliff is impossible to break; However, this begins to be undone by the time the boy learns that she will marry his rival, Edgar. Convinced that Catherine does not love him, Heathcliff decides to leave the country estate. The rupture of the bond that he maintains with his beloved is described in the novel in a symbolic way, through a sublime manifestation of the forces of Nature: “About midnight, while we still sat up, the storm came rattling over the Heights in full fury. There was a violent wind, as well as thunder, and either one or the other split a tree off at the corner of the building: a huge bough fell across the roof and knocked down a portion of the east chimney-stack, sending a clatter of stones and soot into the kitchen-fire” (Brontë 148).

The storm represents the turnaround occurring in Catherine’s life after Heathcliff’s escape. Three years after his death, Edgar and Catherine get marry. In the same way that the interaction with the Lintons damages Catherine’s relationship with Heathcliff, the return of Linton also compromises her happiness and peace with Edgar and Isabella. At first, his presence at the Farm is tolerated, but when young Linton falls in love and resents him and Catherine being so close, the sister-in-laws have a fight. Upon learning of his sister’s interest in Heathcliff, Edgar forbids him to visit his home and, as a consequence, Catherine becomes severely ill.

After her encounter with Heathcliff, Catherine loses the senses, and dies hours after the birth of its daughter. The day after her funeral, the weather changes. “That Friday made the last of our fine days for a month. In the evening the weather broke: the wind shifted from south to north-east, and brought rain first, and then sleet and snow. On the morrow one could hardly imagine that there had been three weeks of summer: the primroses and crocuses were hidden under wintry drifts; the larks were silent, the young leaves of the early trees smitten and blackened. And dreary, and chill, and dismal, that morrow did creep over!” (Brontë 148). Alike the goddess Persephone, when Catherine died everything changed.

Brontë’s novel ends up entangled in a supernatural atmosphere, since Heathcliff and Catherine, even after being dead, are seen by the locals roaming the hills, or on stormy nights, looking outside the window of the old house.

Even after so long after its publication, Wuthering Height remains a novel that defies the boundaries of time and also the readers. Initially received with attitudes of rejection, Emily Brontë’s novel was gradually being re-read and re-appreciated all around the world. By incorporating extraordinary events that arouse terror / horror into common, seemingly trivial, and therefore realistic situations, Brontë succeeds in rendering her narrative credible, so as to make it believable and terrifying to readers. The interaction between what occurs in the external nature of the house and the emotional interior of the protagonists is a mark of the style of Brontë which was influenced by the romantic notion that nature has a connection with society and with human feelings.


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How Far Does the Weather in Wuthering Heights Add Depth to the Narrative. (2021, Nov 11). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/how-far-does-the-weather-in-wuthering-heights-add-depth-to-the-narrative/

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