Wuthering Heights

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Themes and Colors
Gothic Literature and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Nature and Civilization Theme Icon
Love and Passion Theme Icon
Masculinity and Femininity Theme Icon
Class Theme Icon
Revenge and Repetition Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Wuthering Heights, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

From beginning to end, Wuthering Heights is a novel full of ghosts and spirits. Dead characters refuse to leave the living alone, and the living accept that the deceased find ways of coming back to haunt them. In a departure from traditional Gothic tales, these hauntings are sometimes welcome. Heathcliff, for instance, repeatedly seeks out visitations from the ghost of his beloved Catherine. He even digs up her grave in order to be…

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Pitting nature against civilization, Emily Brontë promotes the Romantic idea that the sublime—the awe-inspiring, almost frightening, beauty of nature—is superior to man-made culture. She makes this point by correlating many of the characters with one side or the other and then squaring them off against each other. For instance, Heathcliff, whose origins are unknown and who roams the moors, is definitely on the nature side, while his rival, the studious Edgar Linton, is…

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Wuthering Heights explores a variety of kinds of love. Loves on display in the novel include Heathcliff and Catherine's all-consuming passion for each other, which while noble in its purity is also terribly destructive. In contract, the love between Catherine and Edgar is proper and civilized rather than passionate. Theirs is a love of peace and comfort, a socially acceptable love, but it can't stand in the way of Heathcliff and Catherine's more profound (and…

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Written when gender roles were far more rigid and defined than they are now, Wuthering Heights examines stereotypes of masculinity and femininity. Emily Brontë constantly contrasts masculinity and femininity, but not all of the comparisons are simple; sometimes boys act like girls and girls act like boys. Edgar Linton and Linton Heathcliff, for instance, are men, but Brontë frequently describes them as having the looks and attributes of women. Likewise, Catherine Earnshaw has many…

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Understanding the importance of class in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain is essential to understanding Wuthering Heights. Generally, at the time, people were born into a class and stayed there: if your parents were rich and respected (like Edgar's), you would be, too; if your parents were servants (like Nelly Dean's), you probably would be too. Social mobility—the idea that you can change your class status (usually for the better)—was not commonplace.

In…

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Nearly all of the action in Wuthering Heights results from one or another character's desire for revenge. The result are cycles of revenge that seem to endlessly repeat. Hindley takes revenge on Heathcliff for taking his place at Wuthering Heights by denying him an education, and in the process separates Heathcliff and Catherine. Heathcliff then takes revenge upon Hindley by, first, dispossessing Hindley of Wuthering Heights and by denying an education to Hareton

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