Places: Wuthering Heights

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1847

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Love

Time of work: 1757-1803

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places Discussed*Yorkshire

*Yorkshire. Wuthering Heights Region comprising three English counties–North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, and South Yorkshire–in northern central England. The properties of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange are located in this region of Yorkshire’s lonely, wild, and sparsely populated moors. The moors are characterized by spacious, open grassland and the heather that grows abundantly throughout the region.

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights. Estate of the Earnshaw family located on England’s Yorkshire moors. Wuthering Heights is described by Mr. Lockwood, a tenant at neighboring Thrushcross Grange, as desolate and the ideal home of a misanthropist. Lockwood explains that “wuthering” is a local word used to describe the tumultuous and stormy conditions that are common at Wuthering Heights. The house itself seems dark and forbidding, with a decidedly Gothic physical and spiritual atmosphere. Upon entering the gates of Wuthering Heights for the first time, Lockwood points out its general state of disrepair, especially noting the carvings of griffins at the threshold. Mr. Lockwood also observes that Heathcliff appears as a gentleman, in sharp contrast to the house itself, while the young Catherine Linton Heathcliff appears wild and untamed. He finds in time, though, that in reality the opposite is true.

As the novel progresses and the house passes from one owner to the next, in and out of the Earnshaw family, it is evident that the physical state of the house is somehow connected with the emotional state of its inhabitants. While the elder Mr. and Mrs. Earnshaw live, the house retains a more civilized feeling, but as first Hindley Earnshaw and then Heathcliff obtain ownership, the atmosphere of the house becomes darker and more brooding. Like Heathcliff, the current master of the property, the house steadily deteriorates until the height of its disrepair is described by Mr. Lockwood, who has rented Thrushcross Grange near the end of Heathcliff’s term of ownership.

*Liverpool

*Liverpool. Major port city in western England. When Hindley and Catherine Earnshaw are young children, their father goes to Liverpool on business. He returns with a young and untamed boy, a homeless child he found in the streets of Liverpool and was unable to leave behind. No one in Liverpool knew who the homeless child was or where he came from, though he was thought by many in Liverpool to be a gypsy. The foundling boy is named for a former inhabitant of Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff, the name of the elder Earnshaws’ dead infant son.

Gimmerton

Gimmerton. Fictional village near Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. The village plays a minor, though integral, role in the novel. Heathcliff returns first to Gimmerton before he reappears at Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange after his three-year absence. Near the end of the novel, when the young Catherine Linton and Ellen Dean are held hostage by Heathcliff at Wuthering Heights, the people of Gimmerton are enlisted to join in the search for them in the Yorkshire moors.

Thrushcross Grange

Thrushcross Grange. Home of the Linton family, the nearest neighboring estate to Wuthering Heights. In stark contrast to the dark and forbidding Wuthering Heights, the Grange is lighter and more orderly, a home filled with windows and fresh air. Even the willful and wild Catherine Earnshaw changes markedly when, as a girl, she stays for a few weeks at this location. The atmosphere of Thrushcross Grange does much to tame the formerly unrefined girl.

Like Wuthering Heights, Thrushcross Grange passes from the hands of the elder generation, Mr. and Mrs. Linton, to those of a younger generation, first to their son Edgar and later to his daughter Catherine. In the process, as opposed to Wuthering Heights, the atmosphere of the house becomes increasingly refined and civilized. Even the marriage of Edgar Linton of Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights’ Catherine Earnshaw does little to change the more civilized atmosphere of Thrushcross Grange. However, though Catherine’s high spirits are held in check during the first days of her marriage to Edgar, the reappearance of Heathcliff does begin to affect the emotional state of all those who live at Thrushcross Grange. It is only when Thrushcross Grange falls into the hands of Heathcliff, who has gained ownership of the Heights through the marriage of his son Linton to young Catherine, that it begins to fall into a state of relative disrepair. It is this condition in which Mr. Lockwood finds Thrushcross Grange at the beginning of the novel.

By the end of the novel, young Catherine inherits Thrushcross Grange and Hareton Earnshaw inherits Wuthering Heights. The marriage of Catherine Linton Heathcliff and Hareton Earnshaw, then, unites the two houses in one well-matched and happy marriage. Finally, both the houses and the people who live in them can begin the process of physical and spiritual healing.

BibliographyDavies, Stevie. Emily Brontë: The Artist as a Free Woman. Manchester, England: Carcanet Press, 1983. Discusses not only the novel but also Brontë’s personal life and tragedies, the fantasy worlds created by her and her siblings, and her poetry. Provides an incisive look at the novel’s structure and an in-depth study of the personalities and motivations of the main characters.Everitt, Alastair, ed. Wuthering Heights: An Anthology of Criticism. London: Frank Cass, 1967. A collection of introductory critical explorations of the novel that examine such fundamental issues as structure, narrative strategies, origins, the supernatural, madness, and sadomasochism.Kavanaugh, James H. Emily Brontë. New York: Basil Blackwell, 1985. Offers a late twentieth century critical interpretation of the novel, including a deconstructionist reading. Useful also for its survey of critical approaches to this novel.Miles, Peter. Wuthering Heights. Basingstoke, England: Macmillan, 1990. Provides various readings of Brontë’s novel as well as an introduction that traces the history of the most popular interpretations of and reactions to the book. Includes a helpful bibliography, mostly covering the more traditional approaches.Vogler, Thomas A., ed. Twentieth Century Interpretations of Wuthering Heights. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1968. Offers insight into the novel’s background, important themes such as childhood and incest, and an informative account of the lives of the Brontë family. Also includes selected portions of important mid-twentieth century critical responses.
Categories: Places