How Does Emily Bronte Use Language To Contrast Setting And Atmosphere In Wuthering Heights? Essay
The famous novel by Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights, was written in the 1840’s. At this time society was very biased towards the upper classes. There were four social classes, these were Nobility and Gentry, Middle class, Upper working class and last of all lower working class. Men were looked upon as being more important at this time in history. Men owned their land, their money and their wives. The industrial revolution played a large part in the reason for writing this book. Towns and cities were springing up all over the country, wildlife was being destroyed and Bronte disagreed with this.
Let us look first of all on the names of the two dwellings. The first house is called ‘Wuthering Heights’. The word ‘Wuthering’ suggests that the place the house is situated in is very windy. The next word, ‘heights’, insinuates that the house is on a hill or a cliff top. Whilst the name Thrushcross Grange makes the reader think of nice things, such as a delicate, small bird, a ‘thrush’, the next part of the word, ‘cross’ infers that this is a religious household and so are its inhabitants.
The final word, ‘Grange’, leads the reader to believe that the house is situated in a country setting, surrounded by pretty gardens and well established trees. The first impressions about the two houses are remarkably different. Wuthering Heights first appears as a quite frightening, dark, gloomy place. The front of the house is not very aesthetically pleasing. Above the door there is what Lockwood describes as ‘grotesque carvings’.
The word ‘grotesque’ gives the reader the impression of a murky, mysterious, mystical place, with windows deeply set into the walls, giving the reader the concept that the house is almost castle like in its appearance. On the other hand Thrushcross Grange is surrounded by beautiful plants and elegant, graceful animals. As Heathcliff looks in through large, open glass windows the house appears to be colourful and well looked after. Later in the novel, Heathcliff speaks of the house as being ‘aah, beautiful’.
The word ‘aah’ in this context can be taken as meaning that Heathcliff is overwhelmed by what he sees. Moving on from the first impressions of the two houses to the size. Both houses are very large and the sizes of the rooms and features suggest things about the moods or habits of the people who live there. Firstly, inside Wuthering Heights there is a huge fireplace which is obviously not for decorative purposes – the rooms are large and that is why a huge fireplace is needed to heat them.
A quote from the novel which demonstrates the size of the house is “one end, indeed, reflected splendidly both light and heat from ranks of immense pewter dishes, interspersed with silver jugs and tankards towering row after row, on a vast oak dresser, to the very roof. ” There are also big guns as ornaments on the walls which show that it is a possibly a violent household. Another suggestion in the text of this being a violent house is that there is a huge gundog which almost certainly means that the person who owns the house goes hunting.
The chairs are described as being high backed and primitive, which also makes the reader think that the chairs are for practical use only, rather than being there to be pleasing on the eye. Thrushcross grange on the other hand is a different story. This residence is much daintier. It also seems like a much more welcoming house – for example there is a glowing fireplace and large glass window panes. Also, the chandelier is said to be ‘shimmering with little tapers’. This quote shows that the lighting is not just functional, but it is also meant to be pleasing on the eye.
The dog in Thrushcross Grange is a lot different to the dog in Wuthering Heights. It is portrayed as a ‘pile of warm hair’ unlike the ‘huge liver coloured bitch pointer’, with ‘white teeth watering for a snatch’. The words ‘huge liver coloured’ infer again like Wuthering Heights that this is a violent and large household. The furniture in Wuthering Heights is showed as being bland and uninteresting. The chairs in front of the fire are ‘primitive’ which means that there is nothing at all fancy about them. This shows that the house is not a very welcoming place, and that visitors would be unlikely to feel at home when inside the property.
In stark contrast, the furniture in Thrushcross Grange is completely different; it is more for show than practicality. It is elegant, soft and civilised. The furnishings in Thrushcross Grange are evidently of a much higher standard than that of in Wuthering heights. The ceiling is described as being a ‘pure white’. The word pure suggests that it is perfect in every way possible, just like the house. Another vast difference between the two dwellings is the food. In Wuthering Heights the food is much more for surviving than entertainment.
In the novel, Lockwood tells us that he ‘distinguished a chatter of tongues and clatter of culinary utensils deep within’. Another quote which supports this is ‘and I observed no signs of roasting, boiling, or baking, about the huge fireplace; nor any glitter of copper saucepans and tin colanders on the walls’. This quote shows that the kitchen is almost separated from the rest of the house and is just for cooking and not used for anything else. In Thrushcross Grange the food is much more for entertainment purposes. The food they eat is not for survival but for pleasure.
For example the quote ‘and Isabella emptied a plateful of cakes into her lap, and Edgar stood gaping at a distance. Afterwards they dried and combed her beautiful hair, and gave her a pair of enormous slippers, and wheeled her to the fire; and I left her, as merry as she could be, dividing her food between the little dog and Skulker, who’s nose she pinched as he ate. ‘ Although both dwellings have violent and protective dogs they are different in many ways. At Wuthering Heights the dogs are kept for hunting and security, not for pets. I know this because Mr. Heathcliff tells Lockwood ‘She’s not accustomed to be spoiled – not kept for a pet’.
Lockwood then describes the dogs at Wuthering Heights as being ‘a pair of grim, shaggy sheep-dogs, who shared with her a jealous guardianship over all my movements. ‘ This quote shows that the two dogs are almost guarding Lockwood until Heathcliff returns. The dogs then attack Lockwood and he has to fight them of with the poker. At first the dog at Thrushcross Grange seems completely different. It is portrayed as ‘a pile of warm hair’ which is shaking after the spoilt Linton children have been arguing over who gets to hold the dog. However, Thrushcross Grange, has a guard dog called Skulker.
Skulker attacks and mauls Cathy for spying through the window. Although the Linton household seems more sophisticated than the Earnshaws they are still as violent over the protection of their premises and possessions. Now we move finally onto the residents of the two houses. They are wealthy, aggressive, impolite and in some ways cruel but there are still some differences. First Wuthering Heights, and the inhabitants are mostly caring, loyal and energetic especially Cathy and young Heathcliff. But they can also be ignorant and disrespectful, Mr. Heathcliff. A quote which supports this is ‘The walk in was uttered with closed teeth. This suggests that Mr. Heathcliff doesn’t want him there.
Another time when he is ignorant is when Lockwood is being attacked by the dogs and he doesn’t move one second faster than normal, almost as if he doesn’t care about what is happening. The people at Thrushcross Grange are in some ways the opposite but in some ways the same. They are also uncaring about lower class people such as young Heathcliff. A quote to show this is ‘Don’t be afraid , it is but a boy – yet the villain scowls so plainly in his face’ this shows that they are arrogant and don’t care about anyone but themselves.
They accuse him of being a criminal even thought they have no evidence at all that he is. When Cathy is bitten they don’t care at all about her health but once they find out that she is in the same social class as them they take her inside and treat her wounds. They Linton children are spoilt an example of this is when they are fighting over who gets to hold the dog. As Cathy and Heathcliff peer in through the window they laugh. They would love to have a dog to play with and share and find it pathetic these two children are fighting over and hurting the dog.
Overall the two households may seem very different on the face of it like the people they are in many ways almost identical. Both sets of people can be ignorant, unwelcoming and uncaring. Whilst their hobbies and habits are completely different they set the same priorities and goals. I think in this novel Emily Bronte wants us to think about how we are all equal, despite the different circumstances in which we live. To contrast setting and atmosphere in Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte uses highly dramatic language, causing the reader to visualise both the houses and the people extremely vividly.