Questions for study with ideas for answers
Q: When Cathy dies, Heathcliff curses her for the pain she has caused him, and pleads with her spirit to haunt him for the rest of his life. Anything, so that she does not leave him alone. Why is this the key element of Wuthering Heights?
Ideas: What gives Wuthering Heights an extra dimension is the supernatural
This is not just a story of vengeance and revenge, but it is also the fulfillment of the main character’s plea to be haunted and have no peace. This factor is not made fully clear to the reader until later on in the book, although Bronte hints it at. As a result, the reader’s sympathies towards Heathcliff vary throughout the novel. Bronte cleverly describes the monster, but the reason he behaves in such a manner is because of the supernatural elements, which haunt him. This eventually leads to his breakdown both physically and mentally. Initially, Heathcliff is driven by revenge, but latterly he receives no satisfaction from the material things he has gained and realizes that he can only obtain peace through death and being reunited with his one true love.
Q: Wuthering Heights is one of those novels, that when you start to read it,
you feel you cannot put it down. How does Bronte achieve this rare feat?
Ideas: *The opening chapters portray a confusion concerning the
relationships between the grim characters described, which arouse curiosity in the reader.
*Bronte also provides previews to what will be told later in the book by
having Lockwood read extracts from the diaries he discovers.
*In addition to they’re being clearly a complicated family structure; there
are now hints of a program of revenge being carried out by Heathcliff, coupled with a supernatural dimension.
*There is also not one single narrator, but there are others who contribute
to the tale.
*To conclude, therefore, there are three plots intertwined; firstly,
discourse between the Lintons and the Earnshaws; secondly, a campaign of vengeance pursued by Heathcliff; and thirdly, a love story which transcends death and, therefore, makes this a true gothic romance.
Q: Comment on Nelly’s narration of Wuthering Heights.
Ideas: The reader must decide whether Nelly is merely the narrator of the
tale, or whether she is also a major character of the book. In other words, does she share the same status as Joseph and Zillah, or is she more than a mere servant?
It is clear that Nelly is indeed a survivor, and one suspects that all along
she has been a close ally of Heathcliff.
This is partly concealed from the reader, but by reading between the lines, there are key factors that indicate that she aided Heathcliff in his pursuit of revenge. For example, she deliberately disobeyed Edgar by allowing Catherine to liaise with whose at Wuthering Heights; she did not advise Edgar regarding the secret letter writing between Catherine and Linton and only told him the full story for fear that he might discover it anyway. One wonders whether she had any feelings for Heathcliff for she always tried to undermine Cathy in his eyes.
Her narrative, therefore, does contain bias and the reader should be mindful
of this when analyzing the motives of some of the characters.
Q: Wuthering Heights is full of contrasts and duality between what we call
the first and second generation of characters. Give some examples of this.
Ideas: *The similarity between the relationships of Heathcliff and Cathy and
that of Catherine and Linton, which are kindled on the moors, is shown. It is a place where both Heathcliff and Cathy can escape to, and also Catherine escapes from the confinement of Thrushcross Grange.
She shares a free spirit with her mother.
*We have a contrast between the two families, those in Wuthering Heights and
those at Thrushcross Grange. The Wuthering Heights household tends to be strong, wild and passionate, whereas the household at the Grange is calm, peaceful and civilized.
*Just as Cathy humiliated Heathcliff for his lack of education and social
standing, so does Catherine humiliate Hareton.
*As Hindley treated Heathcliff as a boy, so Heathcliff treats Hindley’s son,
*Just as Cathy’s death is brought on by a lack of food causing general weakness, so Heathcliff fasts
himself in order to finally be with Cathy.