Quotes from Wuthering Heights About Setting

Instructor: Margaret Stone

Margaret has taught both college and high school English and has a master's degree in English.

Emily Bronte's ''Wuthering Heights'' is set on the English moors, the perfect location for a spooky, brooding novel. The landscape is off-putting to newcomers, but the residents seem to draw strength from the treacherous beauty of their surroundings.

Setting

Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights is set in the English moors. The moors are harsh and uncultivated tracts of land. The setting, which is often depicted as dangerous and confusing, contributes to the dark mood of the novel. The setting of Wuthering Heights reinforces the dark tone of the novel and serves as a reminder of the brooding presence of the main character, Heathcliff, and the thwarted love that drives the novel's plot.

Wuthering Heights

Heathcliff's home in the English moors is named Wuthering Heights. According to the novel, wuthering describes 'the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather. Pure, bracing ventilation they must have up there at all times, indeed: one may guess the power of the north wind blowing over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few stunted firs at the end of the house; and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun.'

This passage describes the effect of the north wind on the living things outside the home which have become 'stunted' and 'gaunt'. The house itself, however, has been designed to withstand the wind.

Dangerous Marshes

When Lockwood leases a smaller house from Heathcliff he decides to walk to Wuthering Heights to visit his landlord. When he arrives Heathcliff emphasizes the dangerous landscape when he mentions the weather. He tells Lockwood, 'I wonder you should select the thick of a snow-storm to ramble about in. Do you know that you run a risk of being lost in the marshes? People familiar with these moors often miss their road on such evenings.'

Lockwood, stranded because of the snowstorm, spends a terrifying night at Wuthering Heights. He can't understand the residents because of their inhospitable behavior, which parallels the inhospitable weather and setting. Lockwood needs a guide to understand this place, which he eventually finds when Ellen Dean tells him Heathcliff's story.

Heathcliff himself, however, guides Lockwood through the treacherous landscape after the snow storm. 'It was well he did,' Lockwood says, 'for the whole hill-back was one billowy, white ocean; the swells and falls not indicating corresponding rises and depressions in the ground: many pits, at least, were filled to a level; and entire ranges of mounds, the refuse of the quarries, blotted from the chart which my yesterday's walk left pictured in my mind.'

Lockwood's description of the land as a 'billowy, white ocean' is an example of a metaphor, or state comparison that does not use the words like or as.

Penistone Crags

Wuthering Heights' surroundings also contains crags, or rocky cliffs. Like the marsh, Penistone Crags are menacing, yet beautiful. Ellen Dean says, 'You could not climb them, they are too high and steep. In winter the frost is always there before it comes to us; and deep into summer I have found snow under that black hollow on the north-east side!'

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