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Understanding Symbolism in Wuthering Heights

written by: Trent Lorcher • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 2/14/2012

Use this analysis of symbolism in Wuthering Heights to prepare for intelligent discussion.

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    Symbolism in Wuthering Heights

    Understanding Wuthering Heights symbolism provides depth to Emily Bronte's classic.

    The Moors - Moors play an important part in establishing the mood of the novel. Moors are open areas, wet, wild, and infertile. As the novel opens Lockwood fears walking through the moors at night. Catherine and Heathcliff spend much of their childhood rambling on the moors, symbolizing their wild inclinations. Both Catherine and Heathcliff are buried on the moors, because of their fondness for them and their fondness for the wildness they represent.

    The Moors also represent danger. Nelly and Catherine Linton are feared to have drowned in the moors. In addition, they are very difficult to navigate and easy to lose oneself. Just as the moors represent danger and are difficult to navigate, the love between Catherine and Heathcliff endangers everyone associated with them through their recklessness and becomes difficult to figure out.

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    More Symbolism in Wuthering Heights

    Understanding Wuthering Heights symbolism provides depth to Emily Bronte's classic.

    Ghosts - The inhabitants of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange are haunted by past events. Heathcliff craves the past and longs for the ghost of Catherine to haunt him. Lockwood, during the first few days of his residence, is awakened by Catherine's ghost as he slumbers at Wuthering Heights. It is apparent that Lockwood will be imposed upon by the abnormal goings on of the Heights and Thrushcross Grange. At the end of the novel, rumors persist that both Heathcliff and Catherine's ghosts roam the moors at night. Although the veracity of such events remain ambiguous, there is no doubt Heathcliff's life has made an impact on the still living.

    Weather - The extreme winds prevalent at the Heights symbolize the hardness of the inhabitants. At Thrushcross Grange, things are much more delicate and mild, like its initial inhabitants, the Lintons. Wind and rain are present when Mr. Earnshaw dies, when Heathcliff departs from Wuthering Heights, and when Heathcliff dies.

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    Even More Symbolism in Wuthering Heights

    Understanding Wuthering Heights symbolism provides depth to Emily Bronte's classic.

    Catherine's Locket - Catherine has on her neck a locket containing a lock of Edgar's hair. After seeing the dead Catherine, Heathcliff removes it, throws it on the ground, and replaces it with his own hair. His act symbolizes his desire to supplant Edgar and his belief that Catherine is rightfully his. Nelly takes Edgar's lock of hair, intertwines it with Heathcliff's lock of hair, and puts it into the locket, symbolizing how the two nemesis' lives intertwine.

    Windows and Doors - Wuthering Heights' characters are often impeded by locked doors and windows, symbolizing the damaging effects of revenge. Lockwood (I don't think his name is coincidental) finds Wuthering Heights locked as he arrives. Nelly and Catherine are locked in rooms to assist Heathcliff's thirst for revenge. At other times doors and windows are intentionally left open--Heathcliff opens the window to let Catherine's ghost in; Nelly leaves the window open to let Heathcliff enter Catherine's room; the sexton opens the side of Catherine's and Heathcliff's coffin to let them mingle in death.

Wuthering Heights Study Guide

Tired of strangling puppies on your literature tests. Rise to new heights with the Wuthering Heights study guide.
  1. Wuthering Heights Chapter Summaries
  2. An Analysis of Wuthering Heights Characters
  3. Wuthering Heights Quotes with Analysis
  4. Understanding Symbolism in Wuthering Heights