Authors formulaically uses contrasting places in order to create the opposed forces or ideas that are central to the meaning of the work. In the novel “Wuthering Heights,” Emily Bronte uses the settings of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange to show this. These two places represent the opposed ideas that influence the characters, thoughts and even the plot of the novel.
When the author first introduces the Wuthering heights manor, it is during the ongoing of a storm. This, in it of itself, is very fitting for the storm gives a foreshadowing to the darkness and gloom the manor will bring on later. The name of the manor is actually “descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed to stormy weather.” (Bronte, 4) The name is a fitting one as the wind was blowing with a tremendous power when Mr. Lockwood first arrived. “ …one may guess the power of the north wind, blowing over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few, slanted firs at the end of the house.” (Bronte, 4) Bronte describes the mansion to be perched on a high ridge, overlooking a bland, sparsely inhabited wasteland. It is an ancient house built of dark, cold material, with “a quantity of grotesque carving lavished over the front” (Bronte, 4) which adds to the uninviting atmosphere of the manor.
The manor itself is set completely apart from the populace. In fact, Mr. Lockwood exclaims that “ I do not believe that I could have fixed on a situation so completely removed from the stir of society, a perfect misanthropist’s heaven.” (Bronte, 3) He goes on further to describe even the kitchen to have been “forced to retreat altogether into another quarter” (Bronte, 5). He observes there was “ no signs of roasting, boiling, or baking, about the huge fire-place; nor any glitter of copper saucepans and tin cullenders on the walls” (Bronte 5). The mansion is described to be devoid of all things that make a house a home and also adds to the inhospitality Mr. Lockwood experiences there.
Thrushcross Grange in a complete contrast to Wuthering Heights. A glimpse of the Grange is Given when Catherine and Heathcliff escape from Wuthering Heights to break free from the authoritative command of Hindley. The Grange is placed in a valley, more protected from the elements. The lights of the mansion serve almost as a beacon for them as they get a small taste of freedom. Upon arriving, they stand in awe at what they see. “ 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.” (Bronte, 48) The colors and splendid quality of the décor overwhelm the children as it is a stark difference to the bleak, gothic style of Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff articulates that “we should have thought of ourselves in heaven!,” (Bronte, 48) for the manor radiates the warmth and loveliness of a home.
The dark and somewhat mysterious demeanor of Wuthering Heights reflect the inhabitants that live there, mainly that of Heathcliff who is first described as “ a dark-skinned gypsy” (Bronte, 5) with “black eyes that withdrew so suspiciously under their brows.” (Bronte, 3) It also reflects the Earnshaws who are of a working class family and considered to be average citizens. The manor is built of plain stone with a despondent nature, “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” (Bronte 4) There is nothing special or remarkable about the appearance of the place. Though it may be simply furnished without much extravagance, it has as a sense of strength as show by its capability to withstand the strong, cold, unforgiving winds that sweeps across the grounds. Thrushcross Grange, on the other hand, is a grand mansion with much elegance. The furnishings of the manor are a sign of the social class and status of the Linton family.
The light that radiates from the windows illuminate the darkness and act as a beacon for the children coming from Wuthering Heights. Even though the crimson chairs and pure white ceiling are of much splendor, the house reflects the somewhat snobby attitude of the Linton’s. While they let Cathy stay with them when she and Heathcliff escaped Wuthering Heights, they dragged Heathcliff out into the garden and shut the door directly behind him. Mrs. Linton even exclaimed, “ a wicked boy in all events and quite unfit for a decent house!” Furthermore, When the children peaked in the window of the Linton’s house, they saw the chaos that was unfolding within “ Isabella lay screaming at the farther end of the room, shrieking as if witches were running hot needles into her. Edgar stood on the hearth weeping silently.” (Bronte, 48)Though the manor may seem beautiful and peaceful on the outside, the inhabitants themselves as far from perfect.
As mentioned before, the Grange is situated in a valley that is more protected and sheltered from the elements. Likewise the Linton children were brought up shielded from the ugliness of people and society. The Linton’s are described to have light hair and light eyes in contrast to Heathcliff’s appearance. The children are, in general, more well behaved them the Earnshaw’s. While living at Wuthering Heights, Miss Catherine was free to roam around where she pleased and have Heathcliff as her playmate. She was never worried about being refined or having manners. With just a little over five weeks at the Grange, she became a whole new person. “Instead of a wild hatless little savage jumping into the house, and rushing to squeeze us all breathless, there lighted from a handsome black pony a very dignified person..” (Bronte, 53) It was also at Thrushcross where we see the passionate, more gentler side of Heathcliff as he plays out his love affair with Catherine after she is married to Edgar. “Kiss me again, but don’t let me see your eyes! I forgive what you have done to me. I love my murderer–but yours! How can I?” (Bronte, 164) Even though Edgar knew that his wife loved Heathcliff, he continued to care for her till her last days. He spent countless days by her side, nursing her back to health.
The inhabitants of Wuthering Heights are fierce and have much passion. Healthcliff in his quest to get revenge, destroy the lives of many people. Isabel asks “Is Mr. Heathcliff a man? If so, is he mad? And if not, is he the devil?”(Bronte, 138) It was the actions of Heathcliff that leads to the demise of Hindley, Isabella, and Linton. While slowly leeching Hindley’s fortune away, he allows Hindley to drink himself to death. Isabella foolishly falls in love with Heathcliff, “I love him more than ever you loved Edgar, and he might love me, if you would let him!” (Bronte, 107). In response to this, he says “and I like her too ill to attempt it… except in a very ghoulish fashion. You’d hear of odd things if I lived alone with that mawkish, waxen face: the most ordinary would be painting on its white the colours of the rainbow, and turning the blue eyes black, every day or two: they detestably resemble Linton’s.” (Bronte 121) Heathcliff was also no better to his son, forcing him to court Catherine Linton. Fear of his father plagued him until eventually he also died. All these events occurred within the walls of Wuthering Heights and adds to the idea of the manor representing the “storm” in the novel.
Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering heights represent two opposed ideas in the novel. While one embodies a fiery passion and strong emotions , the other portrays a calmness, light and warmth. These characteristics are the driving force behind much of the events that occur within the story. They shape the novel into the overall theme of good vs. evil.