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How does Bronte use natural setting and imagery in ‘Wuthering Heights’?

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Introduction

How does Bronte use natural setting and imagery in 'Wuthering Heights'? Natural setting and imagery is instrumental in Bronte's creation of 'Wuthering Heights'. They are central in reflecting characters, attitudes and events while giving us invaluable insight into social class. In a highly complex plot of double chronologies, natural setting and imagery links past and present while directly advancing the plot. Moreover, they can create and intensify the mood and atmosphere of an incident while adding depth throughout the novel with symbolism. The vivid natural backdrop and rich language description greatly enhances the enchanting plot. The most prominent characters that can be linked with natural setting and imagery are Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw. Heathcliff's name, a combination of two aspects of basic nature, is an immediate indication of his close link with the natural surroundings. His character can be seen to directly conform to the stormy moors that become his refuge and solitude from the tyranny of Wuthering Heights. Both then, are unpredictable, wild, dangerous and threatening. Much description of Heathcliff draws on symbolism from the natural setting of the novel. For example, the image of Heathcliff being like 'whinstone' is repeated. This natural aspect reflects Heathcliff's toughened and unemotional character. He is also described as 'an arid wilderness of furze.' ...read more.

Middle

Her love for Heathcliff however is true, deep and as steadfast at nature itself. This implies that the empathy of Catherine and Heathcliff with nature extends to an affinity of their souls. Despite this, Catherine marries Edgar. From this the reader can surmise that Catherine has a poor attitude to love; she does not value it highly enough. Natural setting is used highly effectively in marking significant events in the progress of the novel. Again, the affinity of Heathcliff with nature makes events surrounding him most susceptible to a change in the natural setting. His arrival and departure then, are clearly marked with similar weather. Mr. Earnshaw returns in the dark of night, breeding immediate ominous feelings. Heathcliff also dies in the dead of night, suggesting that the plot has come full circle. The weather at his death however, is ferocious, with 'driving' rain, 'indeed, it poured down.' In this way nature is reflecting the reuniting of Catherine and Heathcliff's passionate and wild souls. Death is also marked with miserable weather, such as was the case when Edgar Linton died. Nelly, the narrator, describes the weather shortly prior to Edgar's death as 'close and sultry...devoid of sunshine.' Storms often marked important events, and the most memorable storm occurs when Heathcliff leaves Catherine behind at Wuthering Heights. ...read more.

Conclusion

The 'benign' moors and 'blue sky' suggest peace and tranquillity have replaced the harsh regime of Heathcliff. This would support the idea that it is human nature that effects nature in life, for Wuthering Heights is transformed entirely by the presence of Hareton and Cathy. Yet once again the unregenerate strength of past turmoil threatens the surface serenity as a feeling of unease surrounds the mention of the three graves. As Bronte suggests, Catherine and Heathcliff are united in death and their affinity with nature remains so strong that it can effect the living world. For instance, the storm that broke out at the reuniting of Catherine and Heathcliff's souls. Finally then, Bronte uses meticulous detail in describing the natural setting of 'Wuthering Heights' in order to counter balance the more unbelievable events of the novel. Natural imagery and setting provides a foundation of realism so that the extremity of the plot is not continually questioned. Whilst the natural setting of the moors and descriptions of nature hold the novel together and provide continuity, they are neither separate from the happenings or characters. It is debatable however, whether Bronte uses nature to reflect the intrinsic strength of character emotions or whether the rawness of nature causes the passions of its inhabitants. Either way, the natural imagery and setting of 'Wuthering Heights' enriches the language by creating a harrowing and haunting backdrop and adding depth and soul to the novel. ...read more.

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