Wuthering Heights

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The Weather Symbol Icon
The frequent storms and wind that sweep through Wuthering Heights symbolize how the characters are at the mercy of forces they cannot control. For example, Lockwood, the city boy, thinks he can walk back to Thrushcross Grange through a storm, but the nature-respecting folks at Wuthering Heights tell him he's crazy; they know that the weather—nature—is far stronger than he is. Brontë uses the weather as a metaphor for nature, which she portrays as a magnificently strong force that can conquer any character. The strongest characters are those who give the weather the respect it deserves.

The Weather Quotes in Wuthering Heights

The Wuthering Heights quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Weather. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Gothic Literature and the Supernatural Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of Wuthering Heights published in 2009.
Chapter 8 Quotes
Doubtless Catherine marked the difference between her friends, as one came in and the other went out. The contrast resembled what you see in exchanging a bleak, hilly, coal country for a beautiful fertile valley; and his voice and greeting were as opposite as his aspect.
Related Characters: Ellen "Nelly" Dean (speaker), Catherine Earnshaw Linton, Heathcliff, Edgar Linton
Related Symbols: The Weather
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:

Catherine has been cruel to Heathcliff, calling him "foolish," and when Edgar arrives, Heathcliff leaves in a storm of anger. Nelly, narrating the story to Lockwood, frames the difference between the two men in terms of nature, a typical descriptive strategy in the novel. Heathcliff is compared to "a bleak, hilly, coal country"––not unlike the actual landscape of the Yorkshire moors. This underlines the close association between Heathcliff and the Yorkshire wilderness.

Edgar, meanwhile, is compared to a "beautiful fertile valley." Though "fertile" could be a reference to the Lintons' wealth, this description is also notably feminizing. This passage confirms the fact that Catherine is growing more and more attracted to the idea of a future with Edgar, and again, the notion of fertility is important, as it prefigures both a life of prosperity and the birth of Catherine and Edgar's beautiful daughter, Cathy.


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Chapter 9 Quotes
I've no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in heaven; and if the wicked man in there had not brought Heathcliff so low, I shouldn't have thought of it. It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him; and that, not because he's handsome, Nelly, but because he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same, and [Edgar's] is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.
Related Characters: Catherine Earnshaw Linton (speaker), Heathcliff, Edgar Linton
Related Symbols: The Weather
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:

Catherine confides her conflicted thoughts about Edgar and Heathcliff to Nelly, unaware that Heathcliff is listening. After Catherine admits that it would "degrade" her to marry Heathcliff, Heathcliff leaves, and thus does not hear her confess that she loves him and that their souls are the same. This passage is pivotally important in the novel, because if Heathcliff had chosen to leave even a moment later he and Catherine might have ended up marrying after all. Such timing adds to the tragic drama of the plot. It also provokes the question of why Nelly chose not to intervene and explain to Catherine that Heathcliff had been listening. 

Catherine's words illuminate the mystical, uncanny nature of hers and Heathcliff's relationship. The statement that she loves him "because he's more myself than I am" has an eerie resonance considering they are technically brother and sister. It also illustrates the ways in which Catherine and Heathcliff's characters blur the boundaries of masculine and feminine, self and other.

Once again, nature is invoked to describe the fundamental differences between people. The suggestion that Catherine and Heathcliff's souls are made of "lightning" and "fire" indicates the fierce and destructive power of their love.

My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods; time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath—a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff!
Related Characters: Catherine Earnshaw Linton (speaker), Ellen "Nelly" Dean, Heathcliff, Edgar Linton
Related Symbols: The Weather
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, one of the most famous of the novel, Catherine compares her relationships with Edgar and Heathcliff to different aspects of nature, concluding that her love for Heathcliff is permanent, and even declaring that she herself is Heathcliff. By comparing her feelings for Edgar to foliage, Catherine does not disparage these feelings, and the metaphor suggests that her relationship with Edgar will be more pleasant and prosperous than a marriage to Heathcliff could possibly be. 

At the same time, Catherine's description of her love for Heathcliff as resembling "the eternal rocks beneath" hints that their union is essential and fated. This sense of inevitability implies that––despite all that keeps them apart––they are destined to be together, and Catherine's mention of the rocks beneath prefigures the ending of the novel when she and Heathcliff are buried in the same place, finally together and at peace. 

The phrase "I am Heathcliff" is remarkable, and can be interpreted in a number of ways. On one level it might be considered the ultimate romantic statement, representing the absolute union of two people. On the other hand, it is also somewhat sinister and uncanny, especially situated in a novel that includes ghosts, doubles, and incestuous love. Such a declaration would have been especially alarming to Victorian readers, who would find it extremely strange for a woman to be saying that she is the man she loves. 

Chapter 24 Quotes
One time, however, we were near quarrelling. He said the pleasantest manner of spending a hot July day was lying from morning till evening on a bank of heath in the middle of the moors, with the bees humming dreamily about among the bloom, and the larks singing high up overhead, and the blue sky and bright sun shining steadily and cloudlessly. That was his most perfect idea of heaven's happiness: mine was rocking in a rustling green tree, with a west wind blowing, and bright white clouds flitting rapidly above; and not only larks, but throstles, and blackbirds, and linnets, and cuckoos pouring out music on every side, and the moors seen at a distance, broken into cool dusky dells; but close by great swells of long grass undulating in waves to the breeze; and woods and sounding water, and the whole world awake and wild with joy. He wanted all to lie in an ecstasy of peace; I wanted all to sparkle and dance in a glorious jubilee. I said his heaven would be only half alive; and he said mine would be drunk: I said I should fall asleep in his; and he said he could not breathe in mine.
Related Characters: Catherine/Cathy Linton Heathcliff Earnshaw (speaker), Linton Heathcliff
Related Symbols: The Weather
Page Number: 283
Explanation and Analysis:

Cathy has confessed to Nelly that she secretly spends time with Linton and enjoys his company; in contrast to the bitter hatred between their parents, they get along well. She describes a mild disagreement they had over their respective visions of heaven: Linton dreams of a peaceful, summery day, while Cathy prefers the idea of a lively, blustery scene, similar to the Yorkshire moors. Once again, Bronte represents her characters' personalities through descriptions of the natural landscape. Linton is shown to be serene and quiet, reflective of his non-threatening, shy, feminine character. Cathy, on the other hand, resembles her mother in her love of the harsh Yorkshire outdoors, representative of her inner wildness. 

This depiction of Cathy is also reminiscent of her mother Catherine's contrary beliefs about happiness and the afterlife. Earlier in the novel, Catherine tells Nelly that she has "no business being in heaven," with the parallel implication that she has "no business" marrying Edgar and adopting his pleasant, refined lifestyle. Instead, Catherine believes she ultimately belongs with Heathcliff; her version of heaven (like her daughter's) resembles the rugged, stormy moors, and indeed that is where she ends up after death––haunting Wuthering Heights and Heathcliff. 

Chapter 27 Quotes
Catherine's face was just like the landscape—shadows and sunshine flitting over it in rapid succession; but the shadows rested longer, and the sunshine was more transient.
Related Characters: Ellen "Nelly" Dean (speaker), Catherine/Cathy Linton Heathcliff Earnshaw
Related Symbols: The Weather
Page Number: 303
Explanation and Analysis:

It is August, and Nelly and Cathy have ventured out onto the moors to meet Linton. Nelly describes the vibrant summer landscape before immediately moving on to describe Cathy's face, which matches the natural scene. Once again, Bronte draws a parallel between the weather and Cathy's personality, and the strong affinity between Cathy and the moors links her to her mother, Catherine. Additionally, this description echoes Cathy's description of heaven, which she envisions as a wild, lively, blustery climate.

Note also that Nelly describes the sunshine as resting only a moment on Cathy's face, while the shadows last longer. This seems to be a description not only of Cathy's personality but also life and happiness in general. Wuthering Heights is a novel filled with conflict and suffering, which in many ways contains a rather dark, disturbing view of life. Cathy and Linton symbolize the best we can hope for in life, which is not––as Linton hopes––an entirely peaceful, pleasant existence, but rather moments of freedom and happiness within an otherwise turbulent world. 

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The Weather Symbol Timeline in Wuthering Heights

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Weather appears in Wuthering Heights. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Gothic Literature and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Nature and Civilization Theme Icon
...gypsy." Heathcliff lives in a manor called Wuthering Heights, which is named after the harsh winds that blow across the nearby moors. The house is strong and sturdy and has grotesque... (full context)
Chapter 2
Gothic Literature and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Nature and Civilization Theme Icon
Lockwood returns to Wuthering Heights the next day. As he arrives, it begins to snow. No one answers his knock at the door, and an old servant with a heavy... (full context)