Wuthering Heights

Brittany J, Hallie K, Haylie W, Janae B, and Meghann T

Emily Brontë

Emily Brontë was born in 1818 Yorkshire, England.She lived a quiet life with her clergyman father,brother and two sisters. Her mother died of cancer shortly after the birth of Emily's sister Anne. Brontë's aunt came and lived with them to help with care of the children. Coming from a poor family, Brontë tried to find work. In September 1837, she became a teacher at the Law Hill School. Her sisters, Charlotte and Anne, and her enjoyed writing poetry and novels. In those days women didn't publish literary novels so the sisters had to use a pseudonyms. The three sisters used the male pen names Currer- Charlotte, Ellis- Emily, Acton- Anne Bell. Her works only sold a few copies, but Brontë's defining work was her novel Wuthering Heights published in December 1847. A year later she died of tuberculosis nearly two months after her brother.

Main Issue

Explanation and Importance of issue

Throughout the novel, we constantly see the issue of whether or not someone can love more than one person at the same time, along with the role of social status on marriage and love. At one point, just after Linton has proposed to her, Catherine tells Ellen that "It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him: and that, not because he's handsome, Nelly, but because he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same..." (78). Catherine has grown up with Heathcliff, creating a type of love unlike anything else. They were in love with each other's souls, but their social status prohibited them from marrying each other. Despite her irrevocable love for Heathcliff, Catherine slowly begins to fall in love with Linton as well. When Catherine accept's Linton's marriage proposal, she is abruptly aware that she has feelings for both men, and struggles to find which one is stronger. "My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I'm well aware... My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary." ( 80). Through this realization, Catherine questions how she can love two men in two completely different ways, yet with the same strength. The ultimate decision rests on the social status of the two men: Heathcliff was significantly lower than Linton, and so she continues with her marriage to Linton in order to have a better, more secure life. Had Linton and Heathcliff had the same social standing, it is logical to wonder whether she still would have chosen Linton to marry. The significance of her predicament is clear in the story, and is easily applicable to modern times. In many cultures around the world, people are concerned with marrying within their social status. This novel questions ideals that many have held close for generations. Which is more important, marrying for love, or marrying within your class? The answer may be different for everyone, but it is not easily found. Love is a strong emotion, and can greatly alter our thought process. Then comes the question of whether it really is possible to love to people at once. Many say that if you love two people, you love the second person more because if you truly loved the first one, you wouldn't have fallen in love with the second. However, there is more to love than just the aspect of time. In the end, it is up to each individual to decide their future and although social status and "norms" may play an important role, true love can only be decided by yourself.

Culture of the text's solution

In the novel Wuthering Heights Catherine is faced with the conflict of loving two people at once. She initially falls in love with Heathcliff and he feels the same way about her. They are obviously in love; however, Catherine is hesitant to fully commit to Heathcliff because of his social standing. He is an adopted son of Catherine’s father, Mr. Earnshaw, after he took Heathcliff in and raised him. Catherine and Heathcliff are very fond of each other, but then Edgar Linton comes into the picture. Edgar lives at Thrushcross Grange and is Catherine’s closest neighbor. He begins to develop feelings for Catherine and asks her to marry him. In a rash and pressured decision, Catherine accepts the invitation to become Mrs. Linton. Confiding in her closest friend Nelly, Catherine explains her dilemma. Her heart is torn between a deep love for Heathcliff and a surface love for Edgar but desire for prestigious social standing, wealth and a secure future. Catherine explains that she loves Edgar because he “young and cheerful...and he will be rich” (76). She believes that she will be secure with Edgar, and her family will be more approving of her marriage. Although she is to be wedded to Edgar and become Mrs. Linton, in her heart she knows that she is more in love with Heathcliff. Catherine addresses the issue of loving two people at once by choosing one and marrying him, which is Edgar. This decisions is practical, however it does not work out quite as well as one might hope and Catherine struggles for the rest of her life. Confrontation between Edgar and Heathcliff troubles Catherine as her health begins to decline. She eventually seems to lose self-control and a sense of who she is as she refuses to eat and locks herself in her room. She is too overwhelmed by her love for two men and the decision she made to marry one over the other that she cannot emotionally or physically take care of herself. Catherine eventually passes away as the stress from her life she has lived and the physical demands of giving birth to her daughter Catherine combine on her final night. The culture of the text’s solution to choose the man that is most wealth did not work out in Catherine’s favor as she was haunted by her decision to reject Heathcliff for the rest of her life.

Modern day culture's solution

It seems that in today's culture that many celebrities and people in our own town struggle with loving more than one person at a time. Even teenage girls have "liked" many guys at once, seeing who is the best pick for them. In a way this connects with the situation in Wuthering Heights, not many variables have changed when looking at today and in that time period. There are people who will love a person for who they are, whereas people will love someone based off of how much money they actually have. Our culture has become much more selfish when trying to pick someone to live their life with; they look for wealth, social standing, if they will cater to their every need. Sometimes people treat other people as objects that can be won and once they achieve that "prize," they dump them when they are no longer happy. Not only that but people will also use others to make one person jealous and then leave that person when they get the person that they actually want. Catherine was caught in a similar type of problem in which she still wanted to be friends with Heathcliff after marrying Edgar, that "he'll be as much to me as he has been all his lifetime," (81). This happens all the time in our culture today, though here it is referred to as "friend-zoning" someone that you like but would probably never date. There used to be one way of solving this type of issue in our culture- marrying a guy who will give you good social stand or is the same social standing as you, as well as a man who has a lot of wealth. Now in our culture a new trend is emerging- being with someone you actually love, no matter what their social position is. If this issue would to be resolved in our culture, marrying the one you love would help fix this problem as there is somebody out there for everyone.

Best possible solution

Wuthering Heights is a novel centered around an age-old issue. How do we choose the one we love, when there is more than one person we feel strongly about? Catherine Earnshaw falls in love with Heathcliff as a teenager, but a few years later also falls in love with Edgar Linton. She struggles to decide who she really loves more, and eventually she marries Linton because of the social standing that comes with it, rather than sacrificing social acceptance and marrying Heathcliff. But was this truly the best solution? When there are two equally attractive options, it is extremely hard to choose between them. Catherine is extremely conscious of her social status and wants to climb as high up the social ladder as she possibly can. This desire to remain in good standing is eventually what leads her to choose Linton. By marrying him, she gives up all chances of ever being with Heathcliff. While she finds Linton “handsome, and pleasant to be with”, she never truly loves him the way she loved Heathcliff (76). Catherine decided between her two loves by using her desire for good social status rather than choosing for true love. While she suffered the loss of her actual true love, she gained the social standing she so greatly desired. In other people’s lives, they may be driven by other things. Sometimes, choosing the one you love between two very good options isn't just a matter of heart. Certain situations, as in Catherine’s time, place more emphasis on status than love because that was what was necessary at the time. In today’s society, more people are choosing to marry for love and disregarding social standing. Some people have very little of monetary value and wealth, and so desire to marry into wealthier families so they can live in relative comfort. Others are well-to-do and could marry into whatever class their heart finds love. It seems that the best solution may actually depend on the situation both parties are in, because while most would say marry for love and though it will be hard, you will be happy, and others would forsake that happiness to be comfortable.

Parts impact the Whole

Wuthering Heights takes place in or around two neighbouring estates on the moors of Yorkshire in Northern England- Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. Gimmerton is the nearest town and provides the location for several characters. But more important than any sense of a city centre are the black hollows, bleak hilltops, bilberry bushes, moonlit scenery, miles of heath and winding roads. It's easy to get lost in this barren landscape, especially in the snow. The feelings of desolation and confusion provoked by the setting strongly contribute to the tone of the novel. The way the character interact and where they come from is a major part of the story. There is an immediate hatred between Hindley and Heathcliff, because Hindley is jealous of Heathcliff and the favouring he gets from Mr. Earnshaw. That jealousy and hatred is carried throughout the book creating pity for the poor gipsy that is Heathcliff. The pity the readers feel is only increased as Heathcliff's relationship with Catherine plummets and he looses his childhood love.

Essential Questions

Meghann

1. Working in a group allows you to be a more effective learner and thinker because there are multiple perspectives and ideas presented among your group mates. Every person has their own opinion, and being open to others allows you to grow and be more accepting of other situations. Seeing their opinions and ideas helps you to grow and think of things in a different lighting, ones that you may never have even considered before, but you find out that you actually agree with. Working in a group also helps to clarify situations when you are unsure. For example, when I was confused about a certain part of the book, I was able to turn to my lit circle group and ask for clarification. With four other people to ask questions, odds were one of them understood and could help to explain it to me. Working in a group helps not only to understand the material better, but you also get it done more efficiently and with better quality because you have more minds coming together to get the job done. What one person may think of as a good idea, the rest may see as a bad idea and can help to improve the entire group by working out a solution to the issue.

2. We're creating meaning through incorporating different opinions because by seeing other people's opinions on different matters, we open our minds to different possibilities. For example, when I was confused as to why Catherine had accepted Linton's proposal, my group was able to enlighten me and share their viewpoints on the situation. They gave me alternate perspectives and with those I was able to come up with my own solution and better understand the situation the characters were in. Being aware of different perspectives creates more possibilities and opportunities for success.

3. Because the British culture is so different from American culture, reading British literature allows us to better understand the human experience by showing us that there are ways of life different from our own. We can better understand the cultural differences that lead us to make decisions, and how our upbringing can alter the way we think of certain things. For example, in Wuthering Heights, we see how the British would handle situations like marriage and death in the 1800's. They react to these things very differently than we do. As we follow the characters through the story, we get a better understanding of the struggles different people are faced with and what all goes in to their decision making processes.

4. Wuthering Heights should be included in a British Literature because the characters in this novel are unlike any other novels. When it was first written, these personalities completely astonished the readers and that is why it was so successful. Their actions may be seen as revolting and horrifying, but it shows that there really are people who think like this and opens our eyes to the more grotesque side of literature. It isn't always happy and fairy tale-like, and that is clearly seen in this novel.

Brittany

  1. Working together in a literature circle group allows us to become a more effective learner and thinker. We are able to combine ideas and interpretations of the text into a broader view of the text. Since there is more than one person to collaborate with, we are able to gain new perspectives that each person took on the text. This literature circle has specifically helped me to make sure I am completely understanding the story line. There have been multiple instances where I have read the assigned section and not been completely sure if I caught all the important events that occurred since this novel is written in a different form of english than we usually speak or read in. I was then able to ask my literature circle group the questions that I had. We were able to successfully understand all the main events and themes that the author was trying to convey through our collaboration and clarification with each other. It was especially helpful when we were able to read in class together because we could stop together and make sure everyone was understanding everything that was occurring. We were also able to give ideas to each other to complete the literature circle roles since we were all working together. I learned this text on a deeper level because I was a part of a literature circle group.

  2. Collaboration in our literature circles incorporates multiple perspectives to create overall meaning of the text Wuthering Heights. Each member of our literature circle had slightly different interpretations of the text, so by sharing our ideas we were able to grasp the bigger picture and take into account ideas that we had not thought of on our own. Some members of our group had different interpretations as to the ethnicity of Heathcliff, so we were able to collaborate and combine ideas and decide for ourselves. The collaboration allows us to create a cumulative group idea of the meaning of the text.

  3. British literature allows us to better understand the human experience because we are exposed to a different culture. Our society today is very different than the stories we have read in class this year. The British literature such as Beowulf allows us to understand the idea of a heroic figure that communities look to. I was able to gain a greater understanding of King Arthur and his courts through reading British literature. This experience expanded my knowledge of the duties and expectations of each person that lived during that time period. I was also able to better understand the experience and concept of a pilgrimage through reading The Canterbury Tales. Their human experience was much different than mine will ever be, so I enjoyed the opportunity to view each person through the lens of the author’s perspective. Reading British literature has helped me to understand the human experience in ways that I will never be able to experience firsthand. I have learned of many cultures, customs, and experiences that were alive in the texts that we have read.

  4. Wuthering Heights should be included in the British Literature curriculum. This novel captures the society and mood of the time period and presents well-developed characters. The audience of this novel will gain a much better understanding of societal roles and the importance of money and stature during this time period, as well as the traditions that surround marriage. This novel includes multiple themes that are still very prevalent today that allows the reader to connect to the story although it is very different than most texts they have read before. Emily Bronte successfully weaves varying moods and sentence structures into her work that makes it interesting and writes in a manner that invests the reader into the characters lives and decisions. Wuthering Heights is a classic piece of literature that should be included in the British Literature curriculum.

Hallie

1. Working together in a group allows us to fix any confusions we have about the book, as well as split the work equally between everyone so the project gets done. In our book we were confused on the ethnicity of Heathcliff but in a group we helped each to understand, which also helped us understand a major issue in our book.

2. We all had our own perspective on our book and being in a group it helped us to understand what the author initially meant in the book, like how Catherine actually loved Edgar.

3. Our literature basically began with British literature, seeing how they dealt with problems in their time. Some of their problems, loving two people at once, and how they solved it. We can connect to that in our lives and we can see how humans have adapted to situations in our lives.

4. It should as it has great language, as well as a great story. The characters are very complex and all have a back story and there is a great moral behind it.

Haylie

1. Working in groups allows you to be a more effective learner and thinker because you have communicate your thoughts in ways that can help others and you have to listen to other's, sometimes realising that your's is wrong. By working in groups you are expanding your mind to include others perspectives to collectively understand the book and complete the assignment. I think having a group while reading a book, specifically a confusing and great work like Wuthering Heights, it is great to be able to stop and discuss the scene or situation because sometimes it can be hard to picture what is happening because it is a very different time and the word is difficult to understand.

2. In our lit circles we were continually collaborating to create meaning from the text to us. To fully grasp the social importance of those times we had to discuss as a group why Emily Brontë had Catherine marry Edgar Linton. And as a group we discussed how Edgar was better mannered than Heathcliff and that while Heathcliff became a Earnshaw he was still just a gipsy boy.

3. British literature of that time is incredibly different then what we are used to. We are used to high school drama and a happily ever after, but Wuthering Heights shows that not everything is easy. It showed that not everything ends happily and that people just end up together. I think one of the biggest differences is social importance, back then people would marry because they were a burden on their parents, because they needed money, and they would often times choice social comfort over romantic feelings. British literature shows that there are other ways of living than just our own.

4. Wuthering Height should be included in a British Literature curriculum because it doesn't only show a different place, it shows a different time. It shows what was important back then and it shows the situations people were in, how people reacted to situations. Wuthering Heights is a great example of a different writing style. Emily Brontë seamlessly combines and shows the interaction between two families over only two generations. And she shows racial equality which is an idea far beyond her time.

Janae


  1. Working in small groups to read and understand a classic piece of British literature really allows you to get a better grasp on everything that happens in the book. As you read the book and gain your own ideas of themes and lessons, you are able to collaborate with the other members of your group and learn about things you may not have noticed on your own. As the saying goes two heads are better than one, and in our case, five heads are better than two. Whenever one of us didn’t understand something that was happening in the book, we all would try to explain it to them and share our own separate ideas until they figured out what was going on. Working in a group like this allows us to expand the way we understand topics and widens our view of the different themes of a piece of literature. We also had the opportunity to work together on literature circle assignments, discussions, and blog posts. Being able to discuss ideas and questions within the group certainly helped me understand the book better and see all the ways society has and hasn’t changed over the years.

  2. As we collaborate as members of a group working toward a common goal, we all have different and specific ideas as to what the book means. Often we would get into small discussions during class time about what was really happening at a specific part of the book. The characters in Wuthering Heights all have very similar or the same names, and this made it a very confusing book to read. We would talk about who was who and what each person was doing and whether or not we found the actions of a certain character strange. When we talked about whether we would choose the one we had always loved who has nothing or the one we loved later who could provide the comforts of life, it was interesting to see how each person responded slightly differently. We were able to better understand not only the book but also the way the other members of our group thought and processed information and their personal connections to the book.

  3. British literature is obviously a little different than the American literature we are used to in today’s world, but it is just as important if not more so. In these classic pieces of British Literature, we see the society that ours was born from. We create a better understanding of how people interact with family and friends. We see how people are driven by different things, like money and status and love and happiness. By reading these books, we help ourselves become more open to different reactions to situations and struggles life throw at us. We can see examples of broken friendships, lost loves, family feuds, and the intuition of young people, and we take these experiences to enrich our own life and make our own experiences the best they can be. When people have faced the same problems we face, we lose nothing and yet gain everything by learning about how those people went about overcoming their trials. Reading British literature is in no way detrimental to our lives and is extremely helpful in learning to see things from new perspectives.

  4. Wuthering Heights was a novel that broke many barriers in its time. It portrayed characters that weren’t afraid to show their true colors and explored the emotions and actions of people torn apart by lost love and sacrifice. In its time, Wuthering Heights was very controversial because the characters were vicious in their relationships and dealings, and they kind of paint a picture of how bad things can be and the small good things that can come from even the worst experiences. It should definitely be included in British literature curriculum because the lessons that can be learned from it about making it through hard times and choosing who you trust and love will be applicable for generations to come. It shows the influence society has on each of our lives and decisions, and as society and social media grow ever stronger, it will only continue to have more of an influence. Including Wuthering Heights is a great way to help people understand more about society, love, and themselves and how they all relate.