Significance of Setting Essay

In Emil Bronte’s novel “Wuthering Heights” the two main residences, Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange, are both grand, wealthy houses lying near the wild, Yorkshire moors, “completely removed from the stir of society” (pg1). Besides these similarities though, they are almost exact opposites. Wuthering Heights is associated with passion, nature and the elemental whereas Thrushcross Grange epitomises civilisation, peace and order. The characteristics of both abodes are also evident in their respective residents. I will examine the distinct differences in their interior and exterior appearance as well as their inhabitants.

A first difference is the location and exterior of the two residences. Wuthering Heights is built on high ground where it is subjected to severe storms. It is ? strong? , its ? narrow windows are deeply set in the wall? (pg2). The front is decorated by ? grotesque carving(s)? displaying a ? wilderness of crumbling griffins? (pg2). All the above depict Wuthering Heights as unwelcoming, rugged, gloomy yet natural and elemental. Thrushcross Grange on the other hand lies in a pleasant, sunlit valley below the moors where it is sheltered from adverse weather. It is surrounded by a walled park with well-kept gardens.

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Flowerpots decorate the windows, which are ? only half closed? by the curtains emitting a warm, amiable light (pg43). These features give the impression of a civilised, sophisticated, serene house. Apart from the exterior contrasts, the interior of the two households is also profoundly different. The furniture at Wuthering Heights is primitive: a ? vast oak dresser? and ? high-backed? chairs (pg3), meat and guns hang from the roof and Lockwood discovers a ? heap of dead rabbits? (pg8) ? further signs of nature but also of violence and danger. The huge fireplace ? glow(s) delightfully in the radiance of an immense fire? pg7). This symbolises power, danger, uncontrollability and, foremost, passion. The dogs kept at Wuthering Heights are ? wolfish? , ? hairy monsters? with a ? guttural gnarl? (pg4,15). At Thrushcross Grange however, Edgar and Isabella quarrel over a small pet dog, which they both want to cuddle. Contrastingly, the fire at Thrushcross Grange is at first extinguished. When it glows, it gives off a harmonious but dull light. Thrushcross Grange is beautifully carpeted and furnished, with a ? pure white ceiling bordered by gold? , from which a chandelier hangs (pg44).

Unlike Wuthering Heights? elemental interior, Thrushcross Grange is tranquil and refined. The two houses contrast not only in appearance but also in the characters of their inhabitants, especially in Heathcliff and Edgar. Edgar is civilised, educated, well mannered and gentle (? a sweet, low manner of speaking? (pg65)). However, he is also somewhat weak and uninteresting. Heathcliff on the other hand, described as a ? vulgar young ruffian? (pg62), possesses an ? unsociable moroseness? (pg63), he is uneducated, vindictive but passionate (? an uncontrollable passion of tears? (pg26)).

Therefore also the residents of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange completely contrast each other. To conclude, Emily Bronte creates a stark contrast between Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. In appearance, Wuthering Heights is primitive, rugged and natural whereas Thrushcross Grange is serene, refined and orderly. While the inhabitants of Wuthering Heights are uncontrolled, cruel and extremely passionate, those of Thrushcross Grange are educated and civilised but weak and dull. Personally, I prefer Wuthering Heights because of its passion and energy whereas Thrushcross Grange is refined to the point of seeming dull and lifeless