Windows in Wuthering Heights: Importance, Symbols & Quotes

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In ''Wuthering Heights'' by Emily Bronte, windows are a symbol for the barriers that the characters face. Let's looks at some specific examples from the novel where windows are used symbolically.

Symbolic Barriers

What do windows symbolize to you? Symbols are objects that represent thoughts or ideas. Throughout the novel Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte uses windows to represent barriers that isolate the characters from one another and prevent the characters from fulfilling their dreams. In this lesson, we will look at three of the key events from the story that feature windows.

Catherine's Ghost

On Lockwood's second visit to Wuthering Heights, he is unable to return home because of the blizzard. When he falls asleep, he has nightmares. During one of the nightmares, he wakes to find a tree branch tapping on his window. Still half-asleep, Lockwood tries to open the window, but cannot. He breaks the glass with his knuckles and reaches for the branches '…instead of which, my fingers closed on the fingers of a little, ice-cold hand!' Lockwood tries to get away, but the hand will not release him. A voice cries out, 'Let me in - let me in!... 'I'm come home: I'd lost my way on the moor!' Lockwood rubs the wrist of Catherine's ghost on the broken glass until they bled.

Heathcliff and Catherine demonstrate some pretty serious issues with letting things go. Before she dies, Heathcliff asks her to haunt him so he never has to be apart from her, and she does. Catherine and Heathcliff have always wanted to be together, but somehow, there has always been something in the way. This time, it's a window, symbolizing death, that stands between them.

The Lintons

The night that Heathcliff and Catherine first meet the Lintons, it is because they are spying on them through their window at Thrushcross Grange. Heathcliff tells Nelly, 'We crept through a broken hedge, groped our way up the path, and planted ourselves on a flower-plot under the drawing-room window.' They enjoy looking at the beautiful home that is ornately decorated. They are surprised to see Isabella and Edgar screaming and crying over a little dog.

Heathcliff and Catherine find the whole thing amusing, so they begin to laugh. When the Lintons hear them, the dogs are set loose and Catherine is attacked. Thinking Catherine looks proper, she is invited inside where she spends several weeks recuperating, but thinking Heathcliff looks rough, he is removed from the premises.

On the other side of the Linton's window, Heathcliff and Catherine see a functioning family of high social status. It seems odd to them because Wuthering Heights has been dysfunctional for so long. There is a part of Catherine that wants that type of life that Heathcliff does not fit into. The window represents the barrier between the social classes that puts a wedge between Heathcliff and Catherine.

Catherine's Illness

Catherine gets her wish and marries Edgar Linton, turning herself into a socialite. However, when Heathcliff returns, she discovers that she sacrificed true love in the process. When Edgar prohibits Heathcliff from visiting Catherine at Thrushcross Grange, Catherine locks herself in her room for three days. By the time she resurfaces, she's gone mad.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account