Kingwood College Library
Reference Guide

Wuthering Heights
Emily Bronte
 1818 - 1848

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    Novelist and poet, Emily Bronte,  is one of the most important figures in nineteenth century English literature.  Emily and her siblings were raised in the Yorkshire area of  England. Childhood imaginings shared with siblings became an important part of Emily's writings.  As an adult Emily recognized a metaphysical power in her life that made itself known in her greatest poems and is a profound presence in Wuthering Heights.  Set during late eighteenth century England, Wuthering Heights reflected the social upheaval occurring in England at the time Emily Bronte wrote the novel.   The industrialization of England had given rise to a middle class based on wealth instead of land ownership.  The arrival of Irish refugees from the potato famine presented the problem of parentless children in need of homes and socialization exemplified in the character of Heathcliff.  Ultimately, Emily portrays the problem of being female in the patriarchal culture of the early nineteenth century.

    Wuthering Heights is a romance novel about destructive passion set in the northern English moors, a place of unpredictable weather and countryside.  The novel is the story of the Earnshaw family at Wuthering Heights and the Linton family at Thrushcross Grange, a neighboring property.  The stage is set when Catherine Earnshaw's father brings an orphan, Heathcliff, home to be a part of their family, growing up with, but socially beneath the other inhabitants of Wuthering Heights. Catherine and Heathcliff are passionate, unpredictable soulmates who finally meet each other in a ghostly relationship in the afterlife.  When Catherine's daughter, Cathy,  and Hindley Earnshaw's son, Hareton, finally join happily in a loving relationship, the winter of Wuthering Heights becomes the spring of Thrushcross Grange.

Catherine Earnshaw - A beautiful, passionate, destructive heroine

Heathcliff - A passionate, vengeful hero with mysterious origins

Mr. Lockwood -  A young London gentleman who narrates the story of Wuthering Heights

Edgar Linton -  Catherine Earnshaw's gentle, loving husband

Isabella Linton -  Edgar Linton's selfish, tempestuous younger sister

Hindley Earnshaw -  Catherine Earnshaw's older brother

Catherine Linton -  Only child of Catherine Earnshaw and Edgar Linton

Hareton Earnshaw -  Son of Hindley Earnshaw

Linton Heathcliff -  Sickly son of Heathcliff and Isabella Linton