An Examination of the Different Places Used in the Setting of the Novel Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights has several different places that make up its setting. These places greatly contrast and are used to represent opposed forces or ideas that are central to the meaning of the work. The five main locations of Wuthering Heights are The Moors, Penistone Crags, The Graveyard, Thrushcross Grange, and Wuthering Heights itself. These places each are representation of different attributes and memories that play into the plot and meaning of the novel. These different representations cause great contrast between the different settings and contribute greatly to the meaning of the book. Each of these locations differ greatly in terms of appearance and what they represent. The Moors are described as wide, wild expanses, high, cold, barren, moist, uncultivable, difficult to navigate due to the monotony and uniformity of the land. The Moors also contain patches of water in which people could potentially drown. The Moors are constantly emphasised throughout the novel and thus hold a significant symbolic importance. The Moors hold great dangers as people could drown, become lost, and much more. This allows the Moors to serve as the threat of nature. This threat of danger also transfers to the love affair of Catherine and Heathcliff, for they play on the Moors as children. However, the Moors have another side to them, for it is the sole place where the characters are free to be themselves. This part of the Moors is called Penistone Crags, which is a desolate landscape of rocks where beautiful spring flowers grow. This part of the Moors symbolize beauty despite danger, as well as innocence and escape. Penistone Crags is where Catherine and Heathcliff play many times to escape Hindley. This location represents the beautiful side of their love to contrast the danger the Moors adds to it.

The characters often wish to return to the Moors for it is place of independence and freedom from responsibly, worry, and allows the character to embrace innocence once again. This is evident when Catherine deliriously talks of Penistone Crags from her childhood, “. And here is a moor-cock’s, and this—I should know it among a thousand—it’s a lapwing’s. Bonny bird; wheeling over our heads in the middle of the moor. It wanted to get to its nest, for the clouds had touched the swells, and it felt rain coming. This feather was picked up from the heath, the bird was not shot: we saw its nest in the winter, full of little skeletons. Heathcliff set a trap over it, and the old ones dared not come. I made him promise he’d never shoot a lapwing after that, and he didn’t. Did he shoot my lapwings, Nelly?.?….. I see in you, Nelly,’ she continued dreamily, ‘an aged woman: you have grey hair and bent shoulders. This bed is the fairy cave under Penistone crags, and you are gathering elf-bolts to hurt our calves; pretending, while I am near, that they are only locks of wool. That’s what you’ll come to fifty years hence: I know you are not so now. I’m not wandering: you’re mistaken, or else I should think I was under Penistone Crags; and I’m conscious it’s night, and there are two candles on the table making the black press shine like jet.”“The black press? where is that?” I asked. “You are talking in your sleep!”It’s against the wall, as it always is,’ she replied. “It does appear odd—I see a face in it! Who is it? Oh! Nelly, the room is haunted! I’m afraid of being alone!”” Catherine passes down this love for the moors to her daughter, Young Catherine, who also longs to be in Penistone Crags, “Ellen, how long will it be before I can walk to the top of those hills? I wonder what lies on the other side—is it the sea?”No, Miss Cathy,’ I would answer; “it is hills again, just like these.’ And what are those golden rocks like when you stand under them?’ she once asked. The abrupt descent of Penistone Crags particularly attracted her notice; especially when the setting sun shone on it and the topmost heights, and the whole extent of landscape besides lay in shadow. I explained that they were bare masses of stone, with hardly enough earth in their clefts to nourish a stunted tree. “And why are they bright so long after it is evening here?” she pursued. Because they are a great deal higher up than we are,’ replied I; ‘you could not climb them, they are too high and steep. In winter the frost is always there before it comes to us, and deep into summer I have found snow under that black hollow on the north-east side!’ ‘Oh, you have been on them!’ she cried gleefully. “Then I can go, too, when I am a woman. Has papa been, Ellen?’One of the maids mentioning the Fairy Cave, quite turned her head with a desire to fulfil this project: she teased Mr. Linton about it; and he promised she should have the journey when she got older. But Miss Catherine measured her age by months, and, “Now, am I old enough to go to Penistone Crags?’ was the constant question in her mouth constantly the answer, ‘Not yet, love: not yet.”

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The Moors, despite being place of great danger and the threats of nature, has its good side, Penistone Crags which is considered by many to be an ideal place, where worries are dismissed and a person can once again be a child, free of responsibility and knowledge and worry of danger. While the Moors are empty and harsh, representing danger, and Penstine Crags being beautiful, representing innocence, The Graveyard is the final resting place for everyone. It is located near the moors and is alive with brush and vegetation. “The place of Catherine’s interment, to the surprise of the villagers, was neither in the chapel under the carved monument of the Lintons, nor yet by the tombs of her own relations, outside. It was dug on a green slope in a corner of the kirk-yard, where the wall is so low that heath and bilberry-plants have climbed over it from the moor; and peat-mould almost buries it.” The Graveyard represents peace and calms all of the chaos and energy of the Moors and Penstine Crags. This is presented at the end of the novel on a calm summer’s day, with the three graves all together, “I lingered round them, under that benign sky: watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.” The Graveyard is the ending peace for the chaos and struggles of life that Wuthering Heights symbolizes. In addition, Wuthering Heights is always in a state of storminess and its surroundings depict the cold, bleak, dark, and evil side of life. In the first chapter of Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte gives the reader a description of the estate, “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. One may guess the power of the north wind blowing over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few stunted first 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. Happily, the architect had foresight to build it strong: the narrow windows are deeply set in the wall, and the corners defended with large jutting stones…” This description is very gothic, and allows the reader to associate certain traits of darkness and evil to the estate and its dwellers. As Wuthering Heights symbolizes unwelcoming wildness, Thrushcross Grange represents luxury, comfort and order. Opposite of Wuthering Heights, Thrushcross Grange is filled with light and warmth and is the “appropriate” home of the children of the calm. While Wuthering Heights was always full of activity, sometimes to the point of chaos, Thrushcross Grange is much more peaceful and proper. This is clearly portrayed in the novel, “We crept through a broken hedge, groped our way up the path, and planted ourselves on a flower-plot under the drawing-room window. The light came from thence; they had not put up the shutters, and the curtains were only half closed. Both of us were able to look in by standing on the basement, and clinging to the ledge, and we saw – ah! it was beautiful – a splendid place carpeted with crimson, and crimson-covered chairs and tables, and a pure white ceiling bordered by gold, a shower of glass drops hanging in silver chains from the centre, and shimmering with little soft tapers.”

Thrushcross Grange is not a bleak farmhouse like Wuthering Heights, but is instead a wealthy, good household where propriety, peacefulness and goodness is taught and performed. These major contrasts in the setting of the novel are not only creative and descriptive, but contribute greatly to the meaning of the work. The location of a person greatly influences how they act and their character. Emily Bronte describes Wuthering Heights as having “narrow windows deeply set in the wall, and the corners defended with large jutting stones.” This description is adjacent to Heathcliff when he is illustrated having, “black eyes withdrawn so suspiciously under their brow.” When the children play in the moors and Penstine Crags, they are energetic, free, and innocent. Once they are dead and in the graveyard, they are finally at peace. Those who live in Thrushcross Grange are calm, welcoming and generally good, while those who originate or live at Wuthering Heights are dark, headstrong, and harsh. The imaginative setting Emily Bronte creates for her audience does not only provide a picture, but is a major influence on character’s personalities the overall meaning of the work as a novel of love and power.

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An Examination of the Different Places Used in the Setting of the Novel Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. (2022, Sep 13). Retrieved from