Wuthering Heights Research Paper Topics & Ideas

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Published in the mid-nineteenth century, Wuthering Heights is the only novel by Emily Bronte. This lesson provides some ideas for students who might want to do research papers extending their understanding of this classic novel.

Wuthering Heights Summary

The classic novel Wuthering Heights was written by Emily Bronte from 1845 to 1846. The novel tells the story about Lockwood, a man who wants a peaceful life and a chance to recover from various ailments. He goes to a farmhouse called Wuthering Heights and encounters a variety of interesting characters, including Heathcliff, the landlord, and his various servants. When Lockwood gets snowed into the farmhouse, he learns Heathcliff's full story and the history of the house and its inhabitants. The novel deals with themes such as the extended family, the benefits and pitfalls of prosperity, gender inequalities, the significance of land and nature, and the importance of passion as part of human experience.

This lesson offers you some ideas for research papers students can do if they are interested in extending their understanding of the novel. Each of these topics will require research beyond the novel itself, but will inform deeper comprehension of the story.

The Lives of the Bronte Sisters

Charlotte and Emily Bronte are important figures in literary history. Each of the two sisters wrote some classic works, and it is also interesting that Emily Bronte wrote Wuthering Heights but no other significant novels. Encourage your students to research the biographies of the Bronte sisters, discover the ways that being women influenced their work as writers, and consider why Emily Bronte did not publish any other novels.

Early Nineteenth Century England

Though Wuthering Heights is not primarily a political novel, some of its structures are heavily influenced by the social and political workings of early nineteenth-century England. Ask your students to research what rural life at this time and place was like and how and why it was beginning to change. This will help them understand why some of the characters in the novel might behave in ways that seem odd to a contemporary reader. It will also help them understand the significance of the novel's setting more deeply.

Theories of Love and Passion

Love and passion are major themes in Wuthering Heights. Ask your students to research 2-3 different psychological or philosophical theories on exactly what love and passion are and how they work. Then, have them apply these theories to the novel and question whether the theories help them understand the love and passion exhibited by characters in Wuthering Heights. For an extra challenge, students may try to develop their own theory of love or passion to better account for the characters' motivation and behavior.

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