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How does Bront use the settings of the novel to enhance our understanding of some of the relationships in 'Wuthering Heights'?

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Introduction

How does Bront� use the settings of the novel to enhance our understanding of some of the relationships in 'Wuthering Heights'? In 'Wuthering Heights', the most evident use of setting is in describing the blinding contrast in the relationships between Catherine and Heathcliff and Catherine and Edgar. Catherine describes her love for Heathcliff as being like the 'eternal rocks beneath'; this simile creates imagery of something immoveable, a foundation for what comes above - Catherine's love for Heathcliff is the base for everything about her. However, when discussing her love for Edgar, she says 'Time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees.' The way she feels about Edgar is defined by her mood and so fluctuates, Bront� demonstrating this using a simile of leaf colour through the seasons. She contrasts the two relationships even more directly when Catherine says 'What ever our souls are made of, [Heathcliff's] and mine are the same', while Linton's and hers are 'as different as moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire'. By using elemental imagery, Bront� shows that whereas Heathcliff and Catherine are deeply similar and so have a close understanding, Edgar is too different. ...read more.

Middle

Her unhappiness at the Heights is mirrored by the state of her and Heathcliff's relationship and she asks Nelly 'is he a devil?' This is a rhetorical question to which she already has concluded the answer. The warm, homely and peaceful atmosphere of the Grange reflects Edgar's nature as well as his daughter's. It is written that 'Mr. Edgar had a deep rooted fear of ruffling [Catherine's] humour'; he wishes to maintain the tranquillity of the Grange, showing this in how he approaches his relationship with Catherine. In contrast, the Heights is described as a much rougher location. The very word 'Wuthering' implies violent weather and tempests; strong lexis for strong weather to go with the violent emotions of the residents. This is particularly prominent in the line 'a storm came rattling over the Heights in full fury', this fury representing the flaring tempers and fierce confrontations that flourish within relationships at the Heights. Bront� also uses this environmental imagery to demonstrate the effects of bringing people from each household together. At the Grange there are 'honeysuckles embracing the thorn'; metaphorical of the gentle Linton embracing the wild Catherine. The Heights, on the other hand, is full of division. ...read more.

Conclusion

The use of setting in Wuthering Heights is reminiscent of the scene in Jane Eyre in which Jane's aunt locks her in the Red Room where her uncle died. Charlotte Bront� describes Jane's prison as 'stately'; the mismatch between her unruly young character and this imperious room reflects how she is a 'discord' at Gateshead Hall. The room is also described as 'chill' and 'solemn' and carrying 'a sense of dreary consecration'. The dark and negative atmosphere of the room is paramount in Jane's state of mind; seeing herself in the mirror, she observes 'glittering eyes of fear'. This incident is particularly similar to the discomfort both Catherine and Cathy encounter at the opposing houses. The relationships come full circle in Wuthering Heights; they begin with Catherine and Heathcliff, and finish peacefully with the union of Cathy and Hareton. This is reflected by the settings which also come full circle - the story begins and ends with Lockwood journeying to Wuthering Heights. This helps us to understand the journey of the relationships throughout the novel. It is also an indication that this is a Romantic novel, that the landscape has such a clear moral and emotional significance. ...read more.

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