Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. Many of the names in
Names have a thematic significance in
2. In many ways,
Matched and contrasting pairs form the apparatus through which the book’s thematic conflicts play out, as the differences between opposed characters and themes force their way into action and development. Some of the pairs include: the two manor houses, Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange; the two loves in Catherine’s life, Heathcliff and Edgar; the two Catherines in the novel, mother and daughter; the two halves of the novel, separated by Catherine’s death; the two generations of main characters, each of which occupies one half of the novel; the two families, Earnshaw and Linton, whose family trees are almost exactly symmetrical; and the two great themes of the novel, love and revenge. By placing these elements into pairs, the novel both compares and contrasts them to each other. The device of pairing serves to emphasize the book’s themes, as well as to develop the characters.
3. Analyze the character of Edgar Linton. Is he a sympathetic figure? How does he compare to Heathcliff? Is Catherine really in love with him?
Linton is a kind, gentle, civilized, somewhat cowardly man who represents
the qualities of Thrushcross Grange as opposed to the
While the reader may pity Edgar and feel that morality may be on his side, it is hard not to sympathize with the charismatic Catherine and Heathcliff in their passionate love. It is impossible to think that Catherine does not really love Edgar with some part of herself. Although she marries him largely because of her desire for his social status, she seems genuinely drawn to his good looks, polished manners, and kind demeanor. But it is also impossible to think that her feelings for Edgar equal her feelings for Heathcliff—compared with her wild, elemental passion for Heathcliff, her love for her husband seems frail and somewhat proper, like Edgar himself.
Suggested Essay Topics
1. Discuss the novel’s narrative structure. Are the novel’s narrators trustworthy? Why or why not? With particular reference to Nelly’s story, consider what might be gained from reading between the lines of the narration. What roles do the personalities of the narrators play in the way that the story is told?
2. What role does social class and class ambiguity play in Wuthering Heights? To what extent is Heathcliff’s social position responsible for the misery and conflict so persistent in the book?
3. Discuss revenge in
4. Think about the influence of the physical landscape in the novel. What role do the moors play in the development of the story, and in the presentation of the characters? How does Catherine’s abiding love of the moors help us to understand her character? What do the moors come to symbolize in the novel?