Wuthering Heights – Setting Like the world of Transylvania, the Gothic setting in Wuthering Heights suggests a wild and primitive landscape unconstrained by Orthodox norms. The reader is first introduced to Wuthering Heights, the house and its surroundings, as it appears to the middle class, Mr. Lockwood, on a stormy night. Thus, Lockwood serves the same role and Jonathan Harker as he is the bridge between the world of 19th century normal realities and the primeval world of Wuthering Heights. Just as Mr.
Harker characterizes his trip to Transylvania as a journey between two atmospheres, entering the “thunderous one”, Mr. Lockwood too is introduced to Wuthering Heights on a stormy night, a foreshadowing of the darkness to come. Mr. Lockwood has an arrangement to meet with his neighboring tenant, Mr. Heathcliff and after walking four miles in the snow, he reaches the Heights to find the gate closed. He stands “on that bleak hilltop [where] the earth was hard with a black frost, and the air made [him] shiver through every limb.” (WH-p.29) In fact, the word “Wuthering, being a significant provincial adjective, [is] descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed to stormy weather,” (WH-p.25) thus emphasizing the darkness and cruelty in nature.
As in Dracula, the storm is a presence of sin and unnatural desires. After ejaculating that his “wretched inmates deserv[ed] perpetual isolation from [their] species of churlish inhospitality,” (WH-p.29) for leaving the gate locked during a storm, Mr. Lockwood is let inside, by a woman whom he thinks is Mrs. Heathcliff. His experience here within this Gothic house in quite unpleasant, paralleling Harker’s in the Count’s dark castle. While waiting for Heathcliff in silence he notices how the women “kept her eyes on [him], in a cool regardless manner, exceedingly embarrassing and disagreeable.” (WH-p.30) The arrival of Heathcliff “relieved” (WH-p.32) Mr.
Lockwood momentarily, yet soon he became uneased by Heathcliff’s “tone in which the words said revealed a genuine bad nature.” (WH-p.32) Neither of the hostesses demonstrated much acknowledgment of their guests’ presence, so Mr. Lockwood “began to feel unmistakably out of place in that pleasant family circle [and] the dismal spiritual atmosphere overcame [him].” (WH-p.34) He becomes slowly submerged in a dark setting, in which he feels uncomfortable and even frightened, as Harker’s fears first “seem to have [been] dissipated” (D-p.19) by the Count’s hospitality, but then he finds himself “all in a sea of wonder” (D-p.19) and a “veritable prisoner”. (D-p.13) Like Jonathan, Lockwood seems to be a “prisoner” since he becomes stranded at Wuthering Heights by the snow storm. However, when Heathcliff refuses to allow Lockwood to stay the night, he runs outside into the snow storm attempting to go home. “It was so dark that [he] could not see the means of exit.” (WH-p.36) Attempting to stop Lockwood, Heathcliff set two dogs on him, and he us thrown to the ground.
The means with which Heathcliff attempts to stop Lockwood is barbaric, suggesting that Mr. Lockwood is a prisoner in a jail attempting to escape. The presence of an animal in the Gothic setting parallels the experience of Mr. Harker during his time at the castle. The ferocious dogs attacking Mr. Lockwood invoke fear and thwarted Lockwood from leaving, just as the howling wolves threatened to destroy Jonathan’s life should he try to exit Castle Dracula.
In a dizzy and faint state, Lockwood is taken to a room in which the master “never lets anybody lodge,” (WH-p.37) a fact which increases the Gothic suspense of the setting. Like Harker, Lockwood experiences a dream emerging and reflecting the dark setting. Harker’s dream manifests his Victorian repressions by “revealing the intensity of the emotion he generally denies or repressesbut the specific nature of those emotions is also important.”28 In this first dream, Lockwood is trying to get home but Joseph, a servant of Wuthering Heights warns him he will not be able to get home without a pilgrim’s staff. He realizes that, instead, he and Joseph are going to a chapel to see Reverend Jabes Branderham’s sermon, because “either Joseph, the preacher, or I had committed the ‘First [sin] of the Seventy-First, and were to be publicly exposed and excommunicated.” (WH-p.40) This dream reveals that Lockwood is terrified by the outlaw environment of Wuthering Heights. He has a deep fear of being excommunicated from society as revealed in his dream, a notion that contradicts the need for Victorian man to prosper within society.
The dream can also be seen in “oedipal terms,”29 suggesting Victorian repression: “If home represent the mother (ultimately the womb), using a phallic ‘staff’ to enter it would be indeed ‘absurd’ because forbidden by the incest taboo, and therefore a source of intense anxiety.”30 Thus, Lockwood experiences unconscious and unorthodox beliefs, provoked by the primitive landscape. Harker experiences the same fears of sexuality through a dream provoked by the dark and erotic Gothic landscape of the vampire whores. Through the unconscious mind, the id of the Victorian man is revealed, expressing the sexual desires usually repressed by the Victorian mind. Mr. Lockwood if further submerged into the primitive landscape by experiencing another dream in which he is awakened by the by the “fir-bough repeat[ing] its teasing sound” (WH-p.42) against the window; he attempts to stop it by opening the window.
As he reaches out to seize the branch, his “finger closed on the fingers of a little, ice cold hand!” (WH-p.42) The gothic imagery terrifies Lockwood, just as Harker was terrified by the nightmarish qualities of the castle: Indeed Lockwood confesses, “The intense horror of nightmare came over meand a most melancholy voice sobbed ‘Let me in- let me in!” (Wh-p.42) The voice revealed her name as Catherine Earnshaw, a name inscribed in one of the old books Lockwood had been reading. The “terror made [him] cruel” (WH-p.42) for Lockwood awakens and uncontrollably screams for help. After only hours of staying at Wuthering Heights, Lockwood is becoming an extension of the gothic imagery. He is becoming barbaric like Heathcliff, by acting out his inner emotions even though he is being rude by screaming in the middle of the night. The dream suggest that Wuthering Heights is haunted by the girl’s spirit and Heathcliff’s reaction would suggest an unexplained horror since he opened the window “bursting as her pulled at it, into an uncontrollable passion of tears.
Come in!Cathy, do come, Oh do-once more! My hearts darling! hear me this time- Catherine, at last!” (WH-p.45) Clearly within the Gothic landscape, the boundary between nightmare and reality is diminished, as Heathcliff seems to believe that Lockwood’s dream is not an illusion. The author creates an opposing landscape to emphasize the primitivism of Wuthering Heights. Thrushcross Grange symbolizes the refined aristocrat Victorian household, while those who inhabit Wuthering Heights are much less refined, thus more stormy. “Thrushcross Grange is no simply the values of any tyranny but specifically those of Victorian society, and the rebellion of Heathcliff is a particular rebellion, that of the worker physically and spiritually degraded by the condition and relationships of this same society.”31 The author incorporates the degradation of the Victorian aristocrat in Thrushcross Grange, emphasizing its reflection of the classical Victorian society. She creates Heathcliff to represent those who oppose Victorian society, and the Romantics who rebelled against the conformity of Victorian values, and act their inner emotions. Thus, the two houses represent opposite morals and values; one presenting calm, the other representing the storm, the typical gothic anarchical symbol.
The wild and primitive landscape of Wuthering Heights represents the storminess of the house, and inflicts unorthodox norm on those who inhabit it. Like Dracula who seems an extension of his dark world, Bronte’s hero/villain Heathcliff, is clearly as much as a creature of storm, as the house he occupies. Heathcliff’s childhood experiences have turned Heathcliff into the monster seen in his adult life. Like Dracula, Heathcliff’s origins are unknown, One day Mr. Earnshaw went to Liverpool to conduct some business, found a parentless gypsy boy wandering the streets, brought him home and “christened hum Heathcliff.” (WH-p.52) However, Heathcliff’s happiness at Wuthering Heights was short lived and “died in childhood” (WH-p.52) as a result of the abuse he had received form his step sibling. As children, Catherine and Heathcliff were passionately close: “It was the greatest punishment ever invent[ed] for her to be keep separate from him,” (WH-p.55) yet Heathcliff “would stand Hindley’s blows without winking or shredding tear” (WH-p.52) as a result of jealously.
“So, from the very beginning, Heathcliff bread bad feelings in the house,” (WH-p53) which worsened with the death of Mr. Earnshaw. Hindley stopped the “naughty, swearing boy” (WH-p.65) from his studies and forced him to live a life similar to that of a servant. As the abuse of Heathcliff’s grows, he finds Catherine is his only means of please in his hostile environment. The two play endlessly on the moors by Wuthering Heights and in essence are children of the heaths and the cliff; bot are wild aspects of nature and find comfort here: “It was on of their chief amusements to run away to the moors in the morning and remain there all day, and the after punishment grew a mere thing to laugh at.” (WH-p.59) However, after spending …