Wuthering Heights is the central location of which the novel unfolds. “Wuthering” can be used as an adjective to describe the chaotic tumult in stormy weather or to describe the isolated area in which the alienation and isolation of several main characters in the novel take place. Heathcliff’s alienation as an adolescent in the Earnshaw household shows the scorn for Heathcliff’s situation in the novel, emphasizing what was and what was not accepted in society. The major theme throughout the novel, irony, diction and syntax further this concept.
From the beginning of Heathcliff’s life he was rejected. With the death of Mr. Earnshaw who treated him as his own child, Heathcliff became an outsider. Growing up at Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff was separated from the family, reduced to the status of a servant, and forced to become a farm hand. His only passion in life was his love for Catherine. When Catherine comes back to the Heights as a changed woman, Heathcliff is further isolated. He was not considered “fit” to join parties.
Heathcliff becomes a divided man. Should revenge be committed for the cruel treatment he has received? Or should he overlook this and seek his true passion and love, Catherine? This theme plays a main role in developing the alienation of Heathcliff amongst other characters in the story. The treatment of Heathcliff due to his mixed race, orphanage, and financial situation shines a light on what was considered important to society. The chaos that erupts from the division within Heathcliff foreshadows future events.
Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights are contrasting forces. Wuthering Heights has a dark, gloomy, and eerie aura to it while Thrushcross Grange is depicted as being a warm, active, and glowing household. The residents of Wuthering Heights were of the working class while those of Thrushcross Grange were of higher social status. The residents of Wuthering Heights aspired to be on the same level as the Linton’s of Thrushcross Grange. The ultimate sense of alienation for Heathcliff occurs when Catherine marries Edgar Linton.
Heathcliff sees this as a betrayal of his love for her, in favor of the social status and civilized existence of the Grange. Catherine’s betrayal and marriage to Edgar was an attempt at raising her social status. Ironically, after the marriage of Catherine and Edgar, Heathcliff becomes the owner of Wuthering Heights and inherits wealth and power, while Edgar becomes sick and frail. The irony of Catherine’s marriage demonstrates what the society of the time valued. Emily Bronte uses descriptive language throughout the novel to develop characters.
Her use of colloquial language as opposed to formal language provides the readers with a more intimate and personable feel in order to engage the reader. The purpose of Bronte’s style of writing is to draw the reader into a position where he or she can judge the events. The use of these literary elements helps to reveal to the reader that Heathcliff is a romantic archetype and not a bitter man on a rampage. The development of Heathcliff’s character and his isolation to the rest of the population adds to the list of the cruel treatment he has undergone.
Heathcliff’s alienation from the rest of society can be attributed to the destruction of himself. Alienation creates desperation which can cause an individual to make decisions that they will regret. The harsh treatment and alienation of Heathcliff is a direct indication of what is accepted in the society of the novel Wuthering Heights. The ironic elements that are found in Catherine’s marriage, the fight within Heathcliff which provides an overall theme and the language throughout the novel further develop Heathcliff’s alienation to society.