Personification

Wuthering Heights

by

Emily Brontë

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Wuthering Heights: Personification 2 key examples

Definition of Personification
Personification is a type of figurative language in which non-human things are described as having human attributes, as in the sentence, "The rain poured down on the wedding guests, indifferent... read full definition
Personification is a type of figurative language in which non-human things are described as having human attributes, as in the sentence, "The rain poured down... read full definition
Personification is a type of figurative language in which non-human things are described as having human attributes, as in the... read full definition
Chapter 1
Explanation and Analysis—A Wuthering Introduction:

When Lockwood visits Wuthering Heights for the first time, the novel uses melancholy, Gothic imagery to indicate that the neighboring house is a forlorn, isolated, tempestuous place. Lockwood's visit also foreshadows the whole history of the place that Nelly will tell Lockwood about over the course of the novel.

Wuthering Heights is the name of Mr Heathcliff’s dwelling, ‘Wuthering’ being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather. Pure, bracing ventilation they must have up there, at all times, indeed: one may guess the power of the north wind, blowing over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few, stunted firs at the end of the house; and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun. 

The house's very name, "Wuthering Heights," is derived from the strong winds that buffet the place, hinting that it's not only subject to literal storms, but also figurative ones. By describing the thorn trees with their stretching limbs as "craving alms of the sun," the novel personifies the trees as beggars and the sun as a benefactor; this simile also suggests that the residents of Wuthering Heights rarely experience goodness (light) and long for it.

The house's exterior is also marked by Gothic imagery:

Before passing the threshold, I paused to admire a quantity of grotesque carving lavished over the front, and especially about the principal door, above which, among a wilderness of crumbling griffins, and shameless little boys, I detected the date ‘1500,’ and the name ‘Hareton Earnshaw.’

Gargoyles are characteristic of spooky old buildings in Gothic literature. Also, the name and date carved above the front door foreshadow the 300-year Earnshaw family history that Lockwood isn't yet acquainted with, which will propel much of the novel's drama. At this point, all he (and readers) know for sure is that Wuthering Heights is very old, mysterious, and forbidding.

Chapter 9
Explanation and Analysis—Storm's Fury:

The night young Heathcliff runs off from Wuthering Heights, an unseasonable summer storm erupts, foreshadowing the heartache and animosity to come: 

About midnight, while we still sat up, the storm came rattling over the Heights in full fury. There was a violent wind, as well as thunder, and either one or the other split a tree off at the corner of the building; a huge bough fell across the roof, and knocked down a portion of the east chimney-stack, sending a clatter of stones and soot into the kitchen fire.

The storm's "fury" and violence reflect the agitation at Wuthering Heights when Heathcliff doesn't reappear after disappearing into the night. In particular, this use of personification (as if the storm is sentient and angry) reflects Catherine's turmoil, since she now knows Heathcliff ran off because he overheard her say she couldn't marry him. Most of all, though, the storm's "fury" symbolizes Heathcliff's own anger, as he believes Catherine doesn't love him because of the way he's been "degraded" by Hindley's mistreatment of him at Wuthering Heights. It also foreshadows Heathcliff's vengeful fury against the Linton family hereafter (since Catherine marries Edgar Linton). The knocked-down section of the chimney anticipates the self-destructive havoc he'll wreak at Wuthering Heights when he returns one day.

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