Wuthering Heights

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Wuthering Heights Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Emily Bronte

Born to a clergyman from Yorkshire, Brontë left home at age six to join her sisters at a harsh boarding school. After two of them died, Emily and her sister Charlotte (author of Jane Eyre) returned home, where, with their sister Anne and their brother Branwell, they created a complicated fantasy world; the children wrote a series of stories, plays, and poems, some of which they collected and published. Though Emily left home several more times, she always returned to the beloved moors of her childhood. She published Wuthering Heights the year before she died of tuberculosis.
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Historical Context of Wuthering Heights

The American Revolution, which often symbolizes the ability of the common man to prevail over old, established power, coincides with some of the action in Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff, the book's little guy (who may have actually come from America), stages a revolution of his own by trying to bring down two old, powerful families.

Other Books Related to Wuthering Heights

Like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Wuthering Heights contains elements of Gothic literature as well as Romanticism, which focuses on people's natural goodness and imagination and favors "the sublime" of nature and spirituality over urbanity and technology. Yet Brontë's novel also has much in common with George Eliot's Middlemarch (1871), which realistically examines life in a provincial village.
Key Facts about Wuthering Heights
  • Full Title: Wuthering Heights
  • When Published: 1847
  • Literary Period: Victorian
  • Genre: Romanticism / Realism / Gothic (e.g., mysterious family relationships, vulnerable heroines, houses full of secrets, and wild landscapes)
  • Setting: Yorkshire, England, late 18th to early 19th century
  • Climax: Heathcliff and Catherine's tearful, impassioned reunion just hours before Catherine gives birth and then dies
  • Antagonist: Heathcliff (we root both for and against Heathcliff)
  • Point of View: Nelly Dean, a housekeeper, tells the story of the Lintons and Earnshaws to Mr. Lockwood, who passes along her story to the reader.

Extra Credit for Wuthering Heights

The Bronte Family: Two of Emily Brontë's sisters are also respected writers. Charlotte Brontë wrote Jane Eyre, Shirley, Villette, and The Professor, and Anne Brontë wrote Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Because the Brontës collaborated, critics love to analyze the whole family, not just the individual authors. The family also appeals to readers because it experienced so much tragedy: five of the six children died young (four daughters died of tuberculosis, or "consumption," as it was known at the time, and Branwell, the only son, turned to drugs and alcohol when his career as an artist failed).