Enter promo code TEACH for 15% off.
Page numbers reference Penguin Putnam books.
Wuthering Heights is a novel of revenge and romantic love. It tells the stories
of two families: the Earnshaws who live at the Heights, at the edge of the moors,
and the genteel and refined Lintons who live at Thrushcross Grange. When Mr.
Structurally the novel is rich and complex. There are two generations of characters, and the themes and relationships of the first generation are reflected in the second but with differences that increase our understanding. Brontë ’s use of point of view leads to many questions about the narrators who control the unraveling of events. It is as if the main characters are seen through a series of mirrors, each causing a certain amount of distortion. Without an omniscient voice controlling sympathies, the reader must get inside the characters’ minds, the one telling the story as well as the one about whom the story is being told. Probing this complex web of relationships and motives leads to intense psychological analysis, and in this way the novel mirrors life itself. Learning occurs in pieces and is always subject to revision.
The themes of Wuthering Heights should appeal to the teenage student. The various power relationships involved with romantic love and vengeance depicted in the novel are also a part of the high school students’ social milieu. Teachers who make relevant connections between the themes and characters of the novel and the students’ own preoccupations will find this novel opens up discussion of many of the students’ concerns. The exercises suggested in this guide are designed to promote such connections. More activities and questions are offered than can be used so that teachers can choose those that help make reading and discussing the novel a meaningful experience for students.
|The Earnshaw Family|
|The Linton Family|
Young Catherine marries Linton Heathcliff, but after the deaths of Linton and Heathcliff, she marries Hareton.
Ellen (Nelly) Dean—the housekeeper and "stepsister" of the Earnshaw children. Nelly is raised with the children and serves them for over twenty years. She knows intimately the history of the family.
Joseph—servant to Heathcliff
Zillah—servant to Heathcliff
Mr. Lockwood—tenant at Thrushcross Grange who becomes intrigued with the Earnshaw family history. Ellen Dean is his housekeeper.
The novel can be divided into three main structural divisions for greater clarity in reading: Prologue, History of the Family, and the Epilogue.
Chapter 1: 1801 – Lockwood, the new tenant at Thrushcross Grange, pays a visit to his landlord, Mr. Heathcliff at Wuthering Heights. Lockwood finds himself strangely attracted to a man who seems even more reclusive than he.
Chapter 2: Curiosity leads Lockwood to make a second visit the next day. This time he is snowed in and has plenty of time to discover the relationships among the occupants of the house: a young refined woman; a young man, obviously used to hard labor; and Heathcliff. Lockwood begins to have doubts about Heathcliff’s character when he sees him react savagely to the young woman.
Chapter 3: Lockwood is put up for the night in one of the unused bedrooms which was the girlhood room of Catherine Earnshaw. There he discovers the books and writings of Catherine from the time when her brother Hindley was the master of the house. Lockwood falls into a fitful sleep with dreams that turn into nightmares. His cries arouse Heathcliff who thinks it is the ghost of Catherine calling out to him. After this sleepless night, Lockwood vows never to bother his neighbors again.
History of the Family:
Chapter 4: That evening, reviving a bit, Lockwood engages his housekeeper, Mrs. Dean, who had served the Earnshaws for many years, in a conversation about the inhabitants at Wuthering Heights. Mrs. Dean begins the history of the family at the time that the old master Mr. Earnshaw brings a foundling, later named Heathcliff, home to be raised as his own child. Catherine and Heathcliff become close friends, but Hindley's resentment at his father's protective attitude towards Heathcliff soon turns into hatred.
Chapter 5: Hindley is sent off to college, and the strong bond between Catherine and Heathcliff grows as they are left to themselves to roam about the countryside. The child Catherine is full of energy and high spirits, which often puts her at odds with her father.
Chapter 6: This tranquil time is changed by the death of Mr. Earnshaw. Hindley returns for the funeral with a new wife and takes his place as master. He banishes Heathcliff from the family, requiring him to give up his education to work as a servant. Still Catherine and Heathcliff manage to sneak away for rambles on the moor. On one of these excursions, they spy on the Linton family at Thrushcross Grange. When the watchdog bites Catherine's leg, she is attended by the Lintons while Heathcliff is sent home in disgrace.
Chapter 7: Five weeks pass before Catherine returns home. She is a changed person, in appearance and manners. She now acts the part of the "lady." Heathcliff, meanwhile, has grown more ragged and dirty. Catherine still feels close to Heathcliff and doesn't understand why he resents the changes in her. But Heathcliff envies Edgar Linton, his appearance and prospects with Catherine, and resolves to revenge himself on Hindley, no matter how long it will take.
At this point, Mrs. Dean interrupts her story, wanting to move on more quickly. Lockwood insists that she continue in the same style, not leaving out any details.
Chapter 8: Mrs. Dean continues the story of the Earnshaw family. It is now the following summer, and a baby boy is born to Hindley and his wife. Mistress Earnshaw, who is sickly and consumptive, dies within the year, and the child, Hareton, is raised by Nelly Dean. Hindley gives in to desperate and dissipated mourning for his wife.
Catherine, at fifteen, tries to balance her relationship with both the Linton children and Heathcliff. This causes difficulties for her since neither side likes the other. She is still Heathcliff's constant companion, but he has turned into a boorish, uncultivated person. Piqued by the situation, Catherine quarrels with Edgar, but it leads, paradoxically, to closer intimacy between them.
Chapter 9: Catherine, seeking advice, confides to Nelly that Edgar has asked her to marry him, and she has accepted, even though she is convinced that it is Heathcliff she really loves. However, she cannot marry Heathcliff, given his social situation, and she thinks marriage to Edgar will secure Heathcliff's future. Unknown to Catherine, Heathcliff has overheard most of this conversation, except for Catherine's declaration of love for him. Heathcliff steals out of the room and leaves the countryside. Catherine is devastated by his loss and becomes seriously ill. Three years pass without any word from Heathcliff, and Catherine marries Edgar. This ends the first part of Mrs. Dean's story.
Chapter 10: Lockwood becomes sick from his walk in the snow. It is four weeks before he is well enough to ask Mrs. Dean to continue the story.
Edgar and Catherine enjoy a "honeymoon" period, but it ends with the return of Heathcliff. He is transformed into a tall, muscular, athletic, and mannered man. Catherine is overjoyed to have him back and insists that Edgar, who is of course jealous of her feelings for Heathcliff, accept him into the family. Edgar's sister, Isabella, becomes infatuated with Heathcliff and accuses her sister-in-law of monopolizing him. Catherine mocks Isabella's feelings by embarrassing her in front of Heathcliff. She doesn't change Isabella's mind, but instead plants an idea in Heathcliff's mind that such a marriage would enable him to inherit all the Linton lands. Meanwhile, Heathcliff is staying at Wuthering Heights with Hindley Earnshaw, who, regardless of the danger, has included Heathcliff in his nightly card games, hoping to win some money from him.
Chapter 11: On Heathcliff's next visit to the Linton's, he meets Isabella in the garden and kisses her. Catherine is very put out and quarrels with Heathcliff. There is a violent scene between Edgar and Heathcliff when Edgar orders him never to come to the house again. Catherine becomes so upset that she locks herself in her room.
Chapter 12: By the time Catherine lets Nelly into her room, she is sick from fever and delirium. Concerned with Catherine's health, the family doesn't realize, until it is too late, that Isabella has eloped with Heathcliff. Nelly had discovered her absence earlier but told no one, wanting to spare the family more confusion and pain.
Chapter 13: Catherine suffers through a long illness but slowly begins to recuperate. Meanwhile Isabella and Heathcliff return to Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff's cruel and evil nature is now apparent to Isabella.
Chapter 14: Nelly goes to Wuthering Heights to see Isabella, even though her brother considers her "lost" to him and insists on no communication between the two families. However, Heathcliff desires to see Catherine again and forces Nelly to play his go-between. He says Edgar can never love Catherine as fully as he does and implies that he would kill Edgar if he thought Catherine wouldn't miss him. Nelly finally gives into his threats and agrees to carry a letter to Catherine.
There is another pause in the narrative. When the story picks up again, Lockwood is the narrator, telling the story in Mrs. Dean's "own words."
Chapter 15: Catherine is physically and mentally altered by her illness; she is listless and withdrawn, clearly marked for an early death. Heathcliff realizes this as soon as he sees her. She accuses him of having broken her heart and torments him with her prediction that he will live to forget her. She wishes that they would never be parted, and refuses to release her hold on him even when her husband enters. She falls into a faint from which she never awakens.
Chapter 16: That night a premature infant, young Catherine, is born and Catherine Linton dies. Heathcliff, who has kept a vigil in the garden, knows she is dead before Nelly comes to tell him. He begs Catherine to haunt him, not to leave him alone in this world.
Chapter 17: The next afternoon, Isabella, who is running away from Heathcliff, stops at the house and describes the violent fight between Hindley Earnshaw and Heathcliff. She is bleeding from a knife wound to the head, brought on by her own taunts to Heathcliff that he murdered Catherine. Her son, named Linton, is born a few months later, south of London.
Six months later, Hindley Earnshaw, just 27, dies. It is discovered that Heathcliff owns all the Earnshaw land. Earnshaw's son, Hareton, is penniless, completely depended on Heathcliff for everything.
Chapter 18: Twelve years pass. Young Catherine, called Miss Cathy, has grown up, never going far from home. Isabella, near death, calls Edgar to her side so she can entrust her son Linton to him. Cathy, tired of waiting for her father, decides to do some exploring on her own and ends up at Wuthering Heights. There she meets Hareton who is now eighteen and learns that he is a cousin. She is upset to discover this unlikely connection, but agrees to keep her visit a secret.
Chapter 19: Edgar returns home with his nephew, a "pale, delicate, effeminate boy." Linton is sickly and frail and quite moody, but Cathy is hopeful of making him a pet, soothing his nerves by taking care of him. However, Heathcliff demands that his son be sent to him immediately.
Chapter 20: The next morning Nelly takes Linton to Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff's plan to own all the Linton land through his son's inheritance now becomes apparent. He values the boy for this alone and will not harm him, even though he considers him a puny, weak thing.
Chapter 21: Time passes pleasantly until Cathy's sixteenth birthday. In a ramble over the moors, she meets Heathcliff, who invites her to his home to meet his son. He confides to Nelly that he wants the two cousins to fall in love, so as to avoid any legal questions when Linton inherits the property of his uncle.
Cathy, refusing to believe her father's description of Heathcliff's character, sets up a secret correspondence with Linton. When Nelly discovers the notes, she forces Cathy to stop writing at the risk of her father's displeasure.
Chapter 22: At the end of the summer, Mr. Linton gets cold that he can not shake off, and the family begins to fear for his health. Heathcliff, passing on the road one day, meets Cathy who has been on a walk. He accuses her of playing with young Linton's feelings, saying the boy is so depressed that he has made himself sick enough to die. Cathy insists that she must see for herself, and Nelly gives in, hoping that Linton's behavior will prove the falseness of Heathcliff's words.
Chapter 23: They find young Linton more frail and sickly than before. He also complains at Cathy's treatment of him, repeating his father's accusations against Mr. Linton. He demands that Cathy continue to visit him to cure him. Nelly protests that the visits must not be repeated.
Chapter 24: Nelly becomes sick and is laid up for three weeks. During this time, Cathy continues her secret visits to Linton in the evenings. When Nelly discovers her secret, Cathy describes her visits and her attempts to amuse Linton, usually without good results. Every time Cathy wants to end the visits, the boy blames his ill nature on his sickness. Mr. Linton insists that the visits be stopped.
Chapter 25: The narrated events of the novel have now reached just one year before 1801, the year Lockwood first came to Wuthering Heights. Edgar Linton, who feels he is dying, fears that young Linton Heathcliff is only a tool of Heathcliff's revenge and forbids any more visits between the cousins. However, he allows them to write each other. Edgar realizes that Cathy will be left without an inheritance unless she marries Linton Heathcliff.
Chapter 26: Young Linton is also quite ill, failing rapidly. He hardly has the energy to visit with Cathy, but his fear of his father makes him beg her to come again the next week.
Chapter 27: On the next visit, Linton is even more abject terror, saying he cannot enter the house without Cathy. Heathcliff has devised a plan to kidnap Cathy and not release her until she marries Linton, even though he knows that her father is near death. In the morning, Cathy is taken to be married while Nelly is kept locked up.
Chapter 28: After five days, Nelly is released and returns to the Grange to find Mr. Edgar near death. Cathy manages to break out of Wuthering Heights just in time to comfort her father in his last hours.
Chapter 29: The evening after the funeral, Heathcliff arrives at the Grange to demand Cathy's return to Linton's side. He tells Nelly that he has had Catherine's grave opened and has made plans to be buried next to her when he dies so that their dust can mingle. Heathcliff is still haunted by Catherine. He feels her spirit, but he is in torment because she refuses to show herself.
Chapter 30: Young Linton dies, and Cathy is forced to continue living at Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff now owns all the Earnshaw and Linton property. This chapter concludes Mrs. Dean's story.
Chapter 31: Lockwood, felling much better after his long illness, rides over to Wuthering Heights to tell Heathcliff that he doesn't intend to stay on at the Grange at the end of his year. Not much has changed among the members of the household. Cathy is still obstinate and continues to badger Hareton. But there are slight changes in Heathcliff; he is more restless, anxious, and troubled than Lockwood has seen him before.
Chapter 32: Eight months pass. In September, Lockwood is in the vicinity of the Grange and decides to visit Wuthering Heights to pay off his account. He learns that Heathcliff has been dead for three months. Nelly describes how Cathy and Hareton were reconciled and became fast friends, while at the same time Heathcliff became more and more estranged from the family.
Chapter 33: Nelly continues the tale. Heathcliff hardly notices what is happening around him. When Cathy stands up to him, he is caught by the look in her eyes that reminds him of Catherine. Hareton also closely resembles Catherine. Heathcliff realizes that everywhere he looks he sees reminders of Catherine. He is tormented and haunted by his desire to be reunited with Catherine.
Chapter 34: These are the last days of Heathcliff. He stops eating and sleeping; he restlessly roams through the countryside and home, seeing Catherine wherever he looks. Finally, Nelly discovers him in Catherine's bed, dead. He is buried as he wished, next to the grave of Catherine. Now the country folk swear that his restless spirit still walks.
Young Catherine and Hareton will be married on the new year and move to the Grange to begin their life together, leaving behind the ghosts of Catherine and Heathcliff.
Chronological History of the Linton and Earnshaw Families
1772: Old Mr. Earnshaw finds a starving, orphaned child in the streets of Liverpool while on a business trip and brings him home to be raised with his children – Hindley, fourteen, and Catherine, six; the child is christened Heathcliff.
June, 1778: Hareton Earnshaw, Hindley's child, is born.
1780: Heathcliff leaves Wuthering Heights.
1783: Edgar Linton marries Catherine Earnshaw.
1784: Catherine Linton dies and her baby Catherine is born. Isabella runs away from Wuthering Heights after the funeral of Catherine; Linton, son of Isabella and Heathcliff, is born in the south, near London. Hindley Earnshaw dies.
1801: Catherine Linton and Linton Heathcliff are married. Edgar Linton dies. Linton Heathcliff dies within weeks of his uncle's death.
April, 1802: Heathcliff dies.ABOUT EMILY Brontë
Emily Brontë lived most of her life in England on the North Yorkshire moors like those depicted in Wuthering Heights. Not many details are known about her life. As one Brontë scholar stated, "Next to her genius, the most astonishing thing about Emily Brontë is the silence which surrounds her life." Charlotte Brontë declared that Emily's "disposition was not naturally gregarious; circumstances favored and fostered her tendency to seclusion; except to go to church or take a walk on the hills, she seldom crossed the threshold of home. Though her feeling for the people [all around] was benevolent, intercourse with them was never sought; nor, with very few exceptions, ever experienced."
Emily Jane was the fifth of six children born to the Reverend Patrick and Maria Brontë on July 30, 1818, in the village of Bradford, Yorkshire. Three years after Emily was born, her mother died of cancer, the first of several tragedies that would befall the Brontë family. Just before Emily's sixth birthday, she and her older sisters – Maria, Elizabeth, and Charlotte – enrolled at the Cowan Bridge School. Maria and Elizabeth both fell ill, and on May 6, 1825, Maria succumbed to her illness. The other three girls then left for home, where Elizabeth died two weeks later.
In June 1826, Mr. Brontë returned from traveling with a set of twelve wooden soldiers for Emily's brother, Branwell. Led by Charlotte and Branwell, the Brontë children created imaginative stories, poems, plays, and games about a magical world they created for "The Twelves," as they called the soldiers. They founded a kingdom on the African coast with a city named Great Glass Town, complete with a government, newspapers, magazines, generals, poets, historians, publishers, and actors. Their adventures were recorded in tiny booklets, often less than two inches square, in minute handwriting. One hundred of the booklets – whose wordcount is equal to the total published works of the three sisters – have been preserved.
Charlotte discovered Emily's poems in October 1845 and convinced her sisters to collaborate on a volume of poetry. They chose to use pseudonyms to avoid the criticism and prejudice often directed towards women writers. In May 1846, Poems (by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell) was published, with the Brontës paying for the costs; only two copies were sold.
Emily began working on Wuthering Heights in December 1845. She completed it in July 1846 and began submitting it for publication (along with Anne's Agnes Grey and Charlotte's The Professor). In December 1847, the publisher T. C. Newby published Wuthering Heights. One year later, on December 19, 1848, Emily died from the effects of a severe cold. Two years later, Wuthering Heights was reissued, along with a selection of Emily's poems and a biographical notice by Charlotte.
About Emily Brontë, Virginia Woolf wrote that she had the ability to "tear up all that we know human beings by, and fill these unrecognizable transparencies with such a gust of life that they transcend reality. ...She could free life from its dependence on facts; with a few touches indicate the spirit of a face so that it needs no body; by speaking of the moor make the wind blow and the thunder roar."
Teaching Wuthering Heights
Informal Reading Inventory
For classes in which there is a wide range of ability levels teachers might first determine the suitability of Wuthering Heights for individual students. The novel may prove frustrating for some because of its difficult vocabulary and complex sentences. Also, the length of the novel may appear daunting to slow readers. An informal reading inventory will enable teachers to assess their students' ability to read and understand the novel. The inventory is essentially an open-book quiz that measures how well students can identify the meanings of words in context and understand a brief section of text. The example inventory that follows can be modified as appropriate for individual classes. It is designed to take about 30 minutes.
Informal Reading Inventory
The purpose of this inventory is to allow you to demonstrate how you respond to Wuthering Heights. This is not a test! But please do your best; your effort will help determine your daily grade.
A. Vocabulary: Define the words in bold listed below as clearly as you can. Circle your answers.
1. Too stupefied to be curious myself, I fastened my door and glanced round for the bed. (dazed, overwhelmed)
2. I perceived it to be a sort of couch, designed to obviate the necessity for every member of the family to having a room to himself. (eliminate, avoid)
3. In vapid listlessness I leant my head against the window...till my eyes closed. (a state of being without energy)
4. We were hoping that Joseph might give us a short homily. (sermon, religious instruction)
5. I insist on perfect sobriety and silence! (seriousness, peace)
B. Comprehension: Now read a selection from the novel beginning on p. 24 and ending with the words "right place" just before the break on p. 27. Record your start and finish times, and then answer the questions below. You can refer back to the text if you wish. After finishing the comprehension section, go back to the vocabulary section and re-answer any questions that you think you missed. Then answer the questions below.
Start time:_________Finish time:__________
1. After the narrator enters the bedroom, he approaches a large oak case. What does he do with it? (He enters it and closes its panels.)
2. What antique volume did the narrator's candle scorch? (A New Testament of the Bible which belonged to Catherine.)
3. Why did Heathcliff and Catherine have to have a prayer service with Joseph? (It was Sunday and too flooded with rain for them to go to church.)
4. Who is the tyrant that threatens Catherine and Heathcliff? (Hindley, Catherine's brother. Joseph, the servant, also acts cruelly toward them.)
5. What does Hindley do to Heathcliff in order to "reduce him to his right place?" (Hindley won't let Heathcliff sit or eat with the rest of the family or play with Catherine.)
6. What do you infer are Hindley's motives for acting the way he does to Heathcliff? (Hindley resents how his father had favored Heathcliff.)
To compute the speed of reading, divide the number of words in the passage by the number of minutes it takes to complete the reading: 1280 words/____minutes=____words per minute. This figure will give the teacher a general sense of a student's speed of reading the novel and, since there are about 360 words per page, how long students will take to read specific assignments. Four minutes per page or more is very labored reading; 1.5 to 2 minutes per page is about average for high-school students.
The inventory reveals the students' ability to recognize the meanings of words in context by giving students an opportunity to re-answer the vocabulary questions after reading the passage. The comprehension questions mainly assess students' ability to follow the plot of the story; only the final question is interpretive.
Responding to Students' Needs
If students have a slow reading speed and miss more than three vocabulary questions and more than two comprehension questions, it may mean that they will experience great difficulty in reading this novel. For these students, teachers should seriously consider whether their goals can be met in a better way through alternative novels. The related readings bibliography includes selections with themes related to those of Wuthering Heights, but who are able to profit from working with it, can engage in activities designed to make the novel more accessible to them. These activities which are marked with an * are included among the Before, While, and After Reading the Novel sections.
BEFORE READING THE NOVEL
Wuthering Heights is a complex novel which evokes strong responses – both positive and negative – from readers. Students who are prepared for the narrative strategies employed by Brontë as well as the significant themes will be better able to truly judge their reactions to the novel. Connecting the novel to the students' own experiences from the beginning will also lead to more evaluative thinking and greater interest in the story and characters.
*View a video version of Wuthering Heights before reading the novel to provide a basic familiarity with the plot structure before reading and analyzing the novel.
Point of View
The chronology of Wuthering Heights is carefully planned, but the narrative time does not flow in an unbroken line from the past to the present. Rather it shifts between the present and the past and then back again several times. There are also shifts in point of view. The novel begins with Lockwood's recounting of his year at the Grange, then shifts to Nelly Dean's remembrances, and at times a third voice reports on an event at which Nelly was not present. It would be useful to prepare students for reading the novel by reviewing how point of view shapes the story we receive.
If you have already discussed point of view in other fiction, you can begin by having students freely write about how point of view affects a story. Students can list some of the works of fiction they have read and describe the point of view in each. Then they can speculate about how the story would change if it were told by another character. Students can share these writings with a partner and then small groups can make newsprint charts of the types of point of view with which they are already familiar and the way point of view affects the story and the reader's reaction to a story.
If you have more time, you might want to have students engage in several activities that demonstrate point of view. Here are some activities addressed to students; you should select and improvise as appropriate. Note: All specific activities, suggested in this guide, will be addressed directly to students.
1. Read a short story with a complex point of view; for example, "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner. Discuss in small groups how the point of view affects the reader's understanding of Emily and her lover. How would the story be different if told by Emily or Homer Barren?
2. Role play how point of view affects a person's response to a story. In groups of three, act out one of the following scenarios: two girls fighting about a boyfriend; two parents setting up a curfew with a son or daughter; two students stopped for a traffic ticket. Each person acts out a definite role in the action. Then the actors leave the room. Each one comes in separately and tells the story of what happened. After this exercise, freely write or discuss as a group how point of view affected each individual's story. The class can interview each person and ask: How were you feeling? What was going on in your mind? After this activity, you should be able to compose a statement about how point of view affects a story and what readers or viewers need to think about when hearing or reading a story filtered through another person's consciousness.
3, Read a brief newspaper article and rewrite it from different points of view. Then read your versions aloud and talk about how they are different and why.
4. Take an historical event, such as the voyages of Columbus, and speculate how point of view affects the historical account of the event. What would Europeans say about the voyages of Columbus? How would Indians tell the story of the arrival of Columbus and his men? There is a children's picture book, Encounter by Jane Yolen, illustrated by David Shannon (Harcourt, 1992) which demonstrates the Indian's point of view quiet effectively.
5. Look at several photographs or paintings and talk about the artist's point of view when composing the picture. What did the artist choose to include, to emphasize, to frame? How do these choices affect the impact of the photograph on the viewer?
Before reading the novel, it is helpful to have students think about and discuss some of the themes they will encounter.
Theme #1: Family history and family relationships or sibling rivalry:
1. Wuthering Heights is the history of two families and how an outsider tries to reconstruct that history. In order to begin to understand this theme in the novel, think about your own family history.
a. Make a brief genealogical chart of three generations of your family: grandparents, parents, children.
b. Make a list of important details of about your family to include in a history.
c. Discuss: What did you leave out of your history? Why? What kind of information is difficult to explain to an outsider?
2. Much of the conflict in the novel arises from the struggle of the three Earnshaw children for their father's love. Think about sibling rivalry in literature and in your own experience.
a. Recall or tell the story of King Lear or the fairy tales, "Beauty and the Beast" or "Cinderella." Why do the sisters in the stories quarrel? How does one's place in a family affect behavior in positive and negative ways?
b. Read one of the young adult novels suggested in the bibliography. How do family embers in the novel relate to each other?
Theme #2: Romantic or ill-fated love:
Wuthering Heights is about the love between Catherine and Heathcliff. Students can better evaluate this relationship if they consider their own notions of love first.
a. Examine modern day depictions of love by looking at magazine articles, music, movies, soap operas, or popular literature. Bring in the lyrics to a love song or several magazine articles about "love." Recall the plot of a film about love. As a class distinguish between the various types of love depicted in modern culture; e.g. romantic, married, platonic, fulfilled and unfulfilled, and sensual love. List the characteristics of each type of love. Is there a type of love which is least often depicted in modern culture? What is it? Why?
b. What does it mean when lovers say they are one – no longer two separate persons? What happens when someone becomes "love sick"?
c. Read one of the young adult novels suggested in the bibliography. Examine how it depicts the theme of romantic or ill-fated love.
d. Here are some lines from the novel. Predict the speaker's character and the speaker's attitudes about love:
1) "He shall never know how I love him; and that, not because he's handsome...but because he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same." (Catherine)
2) "If he loved with all the powers of his puny being, he couldn't love as much in eighty years as I could in a day." (Heathcliff)
Theme #3: Revenge:
Much of the action of the novel recounts Heathcliff's revenge against the Earnshaws and Lintons and raises questions about the effects of revenge.
1. Review the stories of novels, plays or films that have a revenge theme; such as Hamlet, Moby Dick, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Medea or films such as Amadeus, Fatal Attraction, and Cape Fear. Read a short story or parable in which a character seeks revenge (for example, the section on feuds in Twain's Huckleberry Finn or Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado.") As a class, discuss: Is revenge ever justified? What is the effect of revenge on the person who carries it out? How can a wronged person secure justice?
2. Find a newspaper story about a crime committed with a motive of revenge. Speculate about what the wronged person was seeking. How will this person be affected if they get revenge? Will they be changed, and how? Will the person be satisfied?
3. Freely write about an act of revenge that you have witnessed or experienced. Speculate about he questions asked in #2.
Theme #4: Nature versus Civilization:
There is a distinction in the novel between the behavior of the Earnshaws which is driven by elemental or natural forces and the actions of the Lintons which are mannered, proper, and socialized. You can get students to begin thinking about this theme by asking them to define what it means to be natural versus civilized and how definitions of each of these states are culturally determined.
1. Think about the "back to nature" idea in our culture. Why do people like to get away to the wilderness? What do they hope to recapture in themselves when they immerse themselves in the natural world? What do we lose by living civilized lives? What do we gain?
2. Make a collage which contrasts the natural and civilized world. Freely write or discuss: what differences exist between the two worlds?
3. Read one of the young adult novels listed in the bibliography. Discuss how it addresses the them of nature vs. civilization.
The descriptive passages in the novel create the mood. From the opening – "one may guess the power of the north wind blowing over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few stunted firs at the end of the house; and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun" to Lockwood's final lingering stroll in the graveyard, Brontë creates a world which is often somber, depressing, and dark. To prepare students to understand how description creates mood, you may choose one of these exercises.
1. Look at pictures of the moors in English travel books. Freely write about how it would feel to live near the moors.
2. Look at photographs and paintings of Haworth and the surrounding countryside in biographies about Emily Brontë and her family. Describe your feelings as you look at these pictures.
In order to understand the context of the novel, have students gather background information about life in nineteenth-century England. Topics to consider are Victorian life and manners, the impact of the industrial revolution on English town life, the class system, medical practices, life expectancy, family life, and the role of women.
WHILE READING THE NOVEL
Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights
Here are several activities for individuals and small groups that will focus and sharpen students' reading and understanding of the novel.
1. *Focus on reading the more significant sections of the novel and replace the other sections with chapter summaries such as those in the beginning of this guide. Alternatively, write the summaries and share them with the rest of the class. (Note to the Teacher: The student summary writing can be done cooperatively in pairs of a more able and a less able student.)
2. *Generate in class a running plot line of the material covered each day. Use the plot line to make predictions about what will happen next in the novel as preparation for subsequent reading. Also use the plot line as a basis for asking more analytical questions about character motivation and actions.
3. * Follow a systematic strategy in handling difficult vocabulary words in the novel, such as:
a. Try to figure out the meaning of the word
1) from the meaning of the sentence or paragraph,
2) from examining it for familiar parts.
If there is still too much uncertainty, then
b. Look up the word in a dictionary and choose the meaning most appropriate to the context.
If the word is one to worked on further, then
c. Record the word and its meaning in a vocabulary notebook.
Because there are so many potentially unfamiliar words in this novel, apply steps b and c only to those words that are necessary to getting the basic story line.
4. *Use a reading strategy while reading Wuthering Heights aimed at reading efficiently and effectively:
a. Skim the chapter to get a feel for the main developments in the plot by reading the first sentence of each paragraph.
b. Go back and read the chapter swiftly. If you encounter difficulty, just read on. The meaning will gradually become clearer as you read.
c. Answer the questions given by the teacher or generated by the class by skimming to find the relevant section in the text and reading that section carefully. Use a word attack strategy to identify the meanings of all unfamiliar words in that section so that you have a thorough understanding.
5. Construct a plot line for each of the stories in the novel: the story of Lockwood's brief tenancy at Thrushcross Grange; and the history of the Earnshaw and Linton families. Consider the connection between these two stories. How does one plot mirror the other? What is the action of the Lockwood plot? Compare it to the action of the Heathcliff plot?
As you are reading, watch for the event that marks Heathcliff's loss of drive towards revenge. Speculate about why this happens. Does it have anything to do with an identification between Hareton and himself as a young man? Or is it connected to associations stirred by Lockwood's stay in Catherine's old room? Another intriguing question is the relationship between Lockwood and Heathcliff. Why did Brontë choose to begin the story with Lockwood? In what ways do the two characters mirror each other?
6. An important consideration in this novel is how much we trust the perceptions of the narrators, Lockwood and Nelly Dean. Make a list of the actions of these characters. Compare your list with a partner and analyze how the character's actions reveal motives and attitudes.
At crucial times in the story, Nelly actually knows more than the other characters or otherwise significantly affects the action and outcome of events. While reading, list all the actions caused by Nelly. Begin to think about the meaning of her involvement in the action. What doe it tell the reader about her? Do we trust her story of the family histories?
The novel can best be read and discussed according to the significant divisions outlined in the synopsis: the prologue, the history of the family, the epilogue. These questions and activities can be used for whole class and small group discussions as well as adapted for journal or free writings.
Prologue – Chapters 1-3
1. What is Lockwood's first reaction to Heathcliff? What connections does Lockwood think exist between them? What do Lockwood's comments about Heathcliff tells us about him? (Lockwood thinks that he and Heathcliff are alike, both misanthropists. Lockwood is afraid of human involvements and attachments, which is why he has chosen to live in such an isolated place as the Grange. In a perverse way he seeks out Heathcliff's company because Heathcliff wants to have nothing to do with him.)
2. How does the opening set the tone for the novel? Note the use of words like solitary, misanthropist, and desolation in the first paragraph. What mood does Brontë create with these words? (Sense of mystery, isolation)
3. How is the description of Heathcliff significant? ("He is a dark-skinned gypsy in aspect, in dress and manners a gentleman.") Note identifications between Heathcliff and animals in the opening scene. (Even Heathcliff identifies with his dogs – "Guests are so exceedingly rare in this house that I and my dogs, I am willing to own, hardly know how to receive them.")
4. After his second encounter with the inhabitants at Wuthering Heights, what conclusions does Lockwood begin to draw about their characters? (Heathcliff is savage; Cathy is a witch; and the rough Hareton is ready to fight at any imagined slight.)
5. Why is Heathcliff so moved by Lockwood's dreams? (This passage initiates one motif in the novel: The importance of dreams as a pathway to associations and knowledge not available to the rational mind. Students should watch for other references to dreams: Catherine's dream of being returned to her childhood room; Nelly Dean's fear of dreams. There is a connection between "elemental" natures like Catherine's and Heathcliff's and the subconscious world of dreams. How could Lockwood's account of his dream be the catalyst that diverts Heathcliff from his revenge?)
Synthesis: Prologue – Chapters 1-3
Discuss the significance of each of the following quotes. In what ways do these quotes begin to shape our understanding of the characters or the themes of the novel?
1. "Mr. Heathcliff forms a singular contrast to his abode and style of living. He is a dark-skinned gypsy in aspect, in dress and manners a gentleman." (This description suggests the two side of Heathcliff's nature: the sensuous, natural man over which has been superimposed the manners and niceties of the social and civilized world.)
2. "Terror made me cruel; and, finding it useless to attempt shaking the creature off, I pulled its wrist on the broken pane, and rubbed it to and fro till the blood ran down and soaked the bedclothes." (Lockwood's nightmare reveals his fear of human relationships; instead of helping the poor, wandering child, he desperately wants to free himself from its grasp. Lockwood doesn't want the demands that come with relationships.)
3. "Come in! Come in!...Cathy, do come. Oh do – once more! Oh! my heart's darling! Hear me this time, Catherine, at last!" (Lockwood overhears Heathcliff's anguished plea to Catherine to reveal herself. What is Heathcliff feeling at this moment? How does this speech compare with the portrayal of Heathcliff so far as a misanthropist, a man who doesn't have any feelings?)
History of the Family
This section covers chapters 4 through 31 in the novel. Because these chapters fall fairly consistently into units of three chapters each, we have subdivided the reading and discussion questions accordingly. The reading can be assigned in small or large units, and the questions adapted for class discussion or journal writing.
Chapters 4, 5, 6
Early history of the Earnshaw family
1. What are Heathcliff's origins? How does Heathcliff fit into the family? (Heathcliff is abandoned on the streets of Liverpool; although he is older than Catherine at the time Earnshaw brings him to live with the family, he never refers to his childhood. The deprivation and alienation of this period mark his character and explain why he is unable to form loving relationships. Heathcliff becomes Earnshaw's favorite, Cathy's close friend and soul mate, and Hindley's rival.)
2. How is Catherine described by Nelly? Is there any suggestion that Nelly is exaggerating or emphasizing certain traits over others? (Nelly describes herself as a "faithful servant," who is partial to the master. When she judges Catherine as unruly, it's because she makes too much trouble for Mr. Earnshaw. Also Nelly feels somewhat equal to Catherine since she has been raised as a member of the family and she doesn't like to be ordered around by Catherine. Resentment and jealousy characterize Nelly's relationship to Catherine.)
3. How does Hindley treat Heathcliff when he returns as master of the home after his father's death? (He makes Heathcliff take the role of a servant, deprives him of an education, and tries to limit his interactions with Catherine.)
Synthesis: Chapters 4, 5, 6
How do these quotes help us to understand the characters?
1. "I found that they had christened him `Heathcliff;' it was the name of a son who died in childhood, and it served him ever since, both for Christian and surname." (The name "Heathcliff' suggests nature: the heath and the cliff, the moors and the rocks. It is also significant that Heathcliff does not have a proper surname; his identity or legal connection to the family is not legitimized. He will always be an outsider.)
2. "He complained so seldom, indeed, of such stirs as these, that I really thought him not vindictive. I was deceived completely, as you will hear." (Nelly continually fails to understand Heathcliff's true character even though his actions repeatedly disappoint her expectations. Why?)
3. "Her spirits were always at high-water mark, her tongue always going – singing, laughing, and plaguing everybody who would not do the same." (Nelly's description of Catherine indicates high spirits, but not necessarily bad behavior. Nelly complains that Catherine is not more sensitive to the feelings of others, but her behavior seems natural for a child. Think about Nelly's point of view. She would be about the same age as Catherine but she had a lot more responsibilities. Why might Nelly resent Catherine's freedom and place in the family? Compare this to Nelly's description of Heathcliff: "He seemed a sullen, patient child, hardened, perhaps to ill-treatment.")
4. "It is but a boy – but he scowls so plainly in his face; would it not be a kindness to the country to hang him at once, before he shows his nature in acts as well as features?" (This quote shows the emphasis upon outward appearance revealing the inner nature of a person. Heathcliff's features show he will be a villain. The teacher might ask students to talk about the self-fulfilling prophecy and how character judgments work upon a person to create behavior.)
Chapters 7, 8, 9
The triangle of Catherine, Heathcliff and Edgar Linton
1. How is Catherine changed by her stay at the Lintons? (She acquires the manners of a lady and enjoys nice clothing and the society life of the Lintons.)
2. What are Heathcliff's reactions to these changes in Catherine? (He envies Linton his blond good looks, his social standing and inheritance; he vows he will have revenge on Hindley for depriving him of his status and equality to Catherine.)
3. How does Hindley react to his wife's death? What connections can you see between his and Catherine's and Heathcliff's behaviors? (Hindley's excessive sorrow matches the extreme behavior of all the Earnshaws. Compare his actions to Linton's reaction to Catherine's death.)
4. How does Catherine feel about Heathcliff? (The students should closely examine Catherine's speeches on pp. 82-84.)
Synthesis: Chapters 7, 8, 9
Explain the significance of these quotes.
1. "I shall not stand to be laughed at, I shall not bear it?" (Heathcliff's pride begins to erect barriers between him and Catherine. Note: this passage should be should be returned to later to compare how Hareton reacts to the taunting of Cathy and Linton.)
2. "It struck me soon...there would be more sense in endeavoring to repair some of his wrongs than shedding tears over them." (Here is another instance of Nelly's loyalty to Heathcliff. She is prepared to overlook his ill nature because she sees him as the underdog. There is an identification in Nelly's mind between herself and Heathcliff. Students might begin to consider how Brontë manipulates our feelings towards Heathcliff. Why might we feel Heathcliff has been wronged? How does Brontë sustain our sympathy for Heathcliff?)
3. "Catherine and he were constant companions still as his seasons of respite from labor, but he had ceased to express his fondness for her in words, and recoiled with angry suspicion from her girlish caresses, as if conscious there could be no gratification in lavishing such marks of affection on him." (Heathcliff is constantly aware of the distance between their two stations in life and distrusts Catherine's affection. What effect do you think this distrust will have on their relationship? To what extent should Heathcliff distrust Catherine?)
4. "I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind." (This is the dream that Nelly refuses to hear. What could it be? What clues are there in Catherine's speech?)
5. "Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind – not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being." (Catherine sees herself and Heathcliff as one. Does she love Heathcliff or her self in him?)
Chapters 10, 11, 12
Catherine and Edgar Linton's Married Life
1. In what ways is Heathcliff changed when he returns to Wuthering Heights? Why does he return? (Great physical changes are evident, but it soon becomes clear that he is not reconciled to losing Catherine. He begins to plan to revenge himself on the whole Earnshaw and Linton clan.)
2. What is Catherine's reaction to Isabella's infatuation with Heathcliff? (Jealousy, irritation; Catherine does not want to share Heathcliff with anyone. She embarrasses Isabella in front of Heathcliff.)
3. How does Nelly interfere in Catherine's affairs and how does she react to Catherine's hysteria and prediction that she will become dangerously ill? How culpable is Nelly for not informing Edgar about Catherine's illness? (Nelly actually precipitates the violent confrontation between Edgar and Heathcliff when she reports to Edgar the quarrel between Heathcliff and Catherine about Isabella.)
4. When Catherine becomes dangerously ill, to what time in her life does her mind return? Why? (Girlhood: a time of unrestrained emotions, a time when she was not caught in a conflict between the two sides of herself which are represented by Edgar and Heathcliff.)
Synthesis: Chapters 10, 11, 12
Explain the significance of these quotes.
1. "I've fought through a bitter life since I last heard your voice, and you must forgive me, for I struggled only for you!" (Heathcliff has done everything to make himself worthy of Catherine.)
2. "Tell her what Heathcliff is – an unreclaimed creature, without refinement, without cultivation; an arid wilderness of furze and whinstone." (Can we trust Catherine's description of Heathcliff to Isabella? What are her motives? If this is a true description, why is she attracted to him? If they are "one" as she said earlier, what does this say about her?)
3. "You are welcome to torture me to death for your amusement, only allow me to amuse myself a little in the same style, and refrain from insult as much as you are able." (Heathcliff resents Catherine's' marriage to Linton and the way she tries to control him. He recognizes her manipulation and would like to pay her back for some of his suffering.)
Chapters 13, 14, 15
1. Why does Heathcliff elope with Isabella? What does she discover about his nature? (Heathcliff sees Isabella as a tool to work out his plan of revenge against Linton. He feels total aversion for Isabella who reminds him of his rival.)
2. What happens when Catherine and Heathcliff meet again? (They both blame each other for the failure of their relationship. Catherine accuses Heathcliff of killing her and Heathcliff asks "Why did you betray your own heart, Cathy?")
Synthesis: Chapters 13, 14, 15
Explain the significance of these quotes.
1. "I have no pity! I have no pity! The more the worms writhe, the more I yearn to crush their entrails! It's a moral teething; and I grind with greater energy, in proportion to the increase of pain." (Heathcliff has lost all human feeling; he enjoys the suffering of his victims. Juxtapose this speech with his declarations of "deep" love for Catherine. Can he love only one person and despise everyone else? Can Catherine and Heathcliff create a universe of love which excludes everyone else?)
2. "I thought I prevented another explosion by my compliance; and I thought, too, it might create a favourable crisis in Catherine's mental illness." (Nelly justifies her compliance with Heathcliff. How culpable is she in this decision?)
3. "Because misery, and degradation, and death, and nothing that God or Satan could inflict would have parted us, you, of you own will, did it." (Heathcliff blames Catherine for their broken hearts; his life will be a living death without her.)
Chapters 16, 17, 18
Aftermath to Catherine's Death
1. What is Nelly's first thought after the death of Catherine and the birth of a baby girl? What does this continue to show about her feelings for Catherine? (She expresses no sorrow. Check her reactions when Catherine falls into a faint on p. 159. She is concerned about the master being left without an heir. It is cold-hearted but consistent with her attitude towards Catherine for Nelly to be worrying over legal considerations at this moment.)
2. What is Heathcliff's reactions to Catherine's death? (Anger and desolation.)
3. What is Isabella's response to Heathcliff's misery over the death of Catherine? How much satisfaction does she enjoy? (She taunts and torments Heathcliff that his love killed Catherine, but she is not satisfied with Heathcliff's suffering since she has not had a direct hand in causing it.)
4. What type of person is the child Cathy? How is she like or unlike her mother? What is her reactions when she first meets Hareton and learns he is her cousin? (Nelly describes Cathy's childhood. Cathy seems to be a happy, loving child. She is surprised to learn Hareton is her cousin since he is so rough and uncouth.)
Synthesis: Chapters 16, 17, 18
Explain the significance of these quotes.
1. "I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!" (Heathcliff desires torment for himself and Catherine rather than being left alone in the world. How consistent is this with the desire of a lover for his beloved?)
2. "I gave him my heart, and he took and pinched it to death, and flung it back to me." (How does Isabella's description of how Heathcliff destroyed her love affect our assessment of his character and love of Catherine? Note the contrast between Nelly's behavior towards Isabella and her behavior to Catherine during her illnesses.)
3. "Well, Miss Cathy, if you were aware whose house this is, you'd be glad enough to get out." (Nelly's hint leads to revelations about Cathy's connections to the Earnshaw family. Is this Nelly's intention?)
Chapters 19, 20, 21
"Courtship" of Cathy and Linton
1. What type of child is Linton? How much of his father, Heathcliff, is in his personality? How does his physical condition affect his father's reaction to him? (He resembles the Lintons closely and is sickly and frail – all characteristics which do not endear him to his father.)
2. How does Heathcliff plan to use Linton? (He wants to secure the Linton lands and property through the marriage of Linton and Cathy; his triumph over his enemies will be complete.)
Synthesis: Chapters 19, 20, 21
Explain the significance of these quotes.
1. "Do you know that, twenty times a day, I covet Hareton, with all his degradation?" (Hareton reminds Heathcliff of himself as a boy and how circumstances worked against him. But even though he pities him, he keeps Hareton in ignorance and poverty.)
2. "I began to dislike, more than to compassionate, Linton, and to excuse his father, in some measure, for holding him so cheap." (Nelly continues to make poor judgments. Why is it right or not right for her to expect different behavior from a selfish, weak child who is being manipulated?)
Edgar's death and Cathy's downfall
1. Why does Nelly allow Cathy to visit Linton? (In hopes that Linton will not be as sick as Heathcliff says. Also, there may be some deeper motive depending on how complex the reader sees Nelly to be – perhaps she desires to see Cathy romantically involved.)
2. How does Linton get Cathy to want to visit him again? (He appeals to her pity; her desire to comfort him.)
3. Why is Cathy vulnerable to Linton's appeal for pity? (She thinks she can successfully nurse Linton back to health; she wants to mother him – to turn him into a pet.)
4. Why does Edgar agree to allow Cathy and Linton to meet on the moors? (Edgar, not knowing about Linton's true character and state of health, hopes that Linton will give Cathy some solace when Edgar is gone; also Edgar hopes that Cathy will be able to stay in Thrushcross Grange if she marries Linton, who will inherit it when Edgar is dead.)
5. Why do Cathy and Nelly consent to go to Wuthering Heights? (Cathy gives in to Linton's pleas because he is so upset.)
6. How does Heathcliff show his cruelty to Cathy? (He locks her up, slaps her, and prevents her from going to her father on his deathbed.)
Synthesis: Chapters 22-28
Explain the significance of these quotes.
1. "I can get over the wall," she said laughing. "The Grange is not a prison, Ellen, and you are not my jailer...And I'm certain Linton would recover quickly if he had me to look after him...I'd make such a pet of him, if he were mine." (This expresses Cathy's sense of independence and power. Nelly can't control her, but she is intent on controlling Linton.)
2. "I thought it over aloud, in my master's presence; walking straight from her room to his, and relating the whole story; with the exception of her conversations with her cousin, and any mention of Hareton." (If Nelly had leveled with Edgar at this point about Cathy's growing involvement with Linton and Linton's weak and peevish nature, then perhaps Edgar would not have allowed Cathy and Linton's involvement to progress to its dismal outcome.)
3. "Have you never loved anybody in all you life, Uncle? Never? Ah! you must look once – I'm so wretched – you can't help being sorry and pitying me." (This scene contrasts with the scene in the Phantom of the Opera in which Christine Daae throws herself at the mercy of the monstrous Erik. He, by contrast, has pity on Christine. Heathcliff cruelly rejects Cathy's plea. Heathcliff's obdurate inhumanity even to the children makes him one of the most thoroughly villainous characters in literature.)
Chapters 29, 30, 31
Cathy at Wuthering Heights
1. When Heathcliff comes to get Cathy to take her back to the Heights, what does she tell him that leads Nelly to say that Cathy seemed to have "entered the spirit of her future family?" (Cathy tells Heathcliff that they will have revenge in knowing that Heathcliff has the greater misery and is as lonely and envious as the devil.)
2. After Linton dies why does Cathy treat Joseph, Hareton, and Zillah so contemptuously? (She resents them for not offering her any support while Linton was dying.)
3. Why does Hareton burn his books in the fire? (Cathy has mocked his stumbling attempts to read.)
Synthesis: Chapters 29, 30, 31
What is the meaning of this quote?
"She has no lover or liker among us – and she does not deserve one...She'll snap at the master himself, and as good as dares him to thrash her; and the more hurt she gets, the more venomous she grows." (This view of the servant Zillah gives an image of how Cathy is responding to the alien atmosphere of Wuthering Heights. The reader must decide to what extent this image is distorted by Zillah's point of view.)
Epilogue: Chapters 32, 33, 34
Cathy and Hareton; the death of Heathcliff
1. How does Cathy show her sorrow for mocking Hareton's reading? (She tries to get him to read again by leaving her books about.)
2. What role does Nelly play in the reconciliation of Cathy and Hareton? (Nelly is the go-between for the two young people. She allows them to be together and encourages Hareton to be friends with Cathy, and then she delivers a present to Hareton from Cathy.)
3. What is the physical reason for Heathcliff's death? (He did not eat or drink for four days.)
Synthesis: Chapters 32, 33, 34
Explain the significance of these quotes.
1. "Con-trary!" said a voice, as sweet as a silver bell, "that for the third time, you dunce! I'm not going to tell you again. Recollect, or I pull your hair!" (Cathy teachers Hareton how to read and lovingly and playfully criticizes him with mock severity. This scene suggests how the horror of the power and love relationships of the older generation have been transformed into a romantic idyll.)
2. "The crown of all my wishes will be the union of those two. I shall envy no one on their wedding day – there won't be a happier woman than myself in England!" (Nelly reveals that she fulfills her own longings for romantic intimacy through the love of Cathy and Hareton.)
3. "I have lost the faculty of enjoying their destruction, and I am too idle to destroy for nothing." (Heathcliff does not show any magnanimity in his not destroying the lives of Cathy and Hareton. Rather, his energy for cruelty has faded as he has become more obsessed with the "ghost" of Catherine.)
AFTER READING THE NOVEL
Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights
These activities are designed to analyze the information and ideas which students have gathered before and while reading the novel. They can be initiated at any time and modified to promote discussion and analysis.
1. Each small group will be assigned one of the main characters in the novel. Together list the main traits of this character. Choose a passage from the novel which best exemplifies the character. Read this passage and summarize your ideas about the character for the class. Then role play characters interacting with one another in several different scenarios:
a. Continue the conversation between Heathcliff and Catherine (after Nelly has left the room) on the afternoon of their quarrel.
b. Create the conversation between Isabella and Heathcliff in the garden on the day they eloped.
c. Create the conversation between Isabella and Linton when he comes to her bedside near the end of her life.
d. Create the interior conversation Heathcliff has with himself on the night he steals into the parlor to hold the dead Catherine's body in his arms.
The possibilities of scenes and created conversations are limitless, depending on time and the number of students you wish to participate in any one group.
2. Is Nelly Dean a good and loyal servant or is she manipulative and scheming? Pose this question to a panel of judges. Appoint a committee for Nelly's defense. Appoint a prosecuting committee. Use a debate format in which each group can make their presentation with a follow-up rebuttal. Each student in the class will get to make a judgment on Nelly's character, listing the arguments that convinced them.
3. How would this story be different if told from another point of view? Rewrite a key section, using a character other than Nelly Dean as the person telling the story.
4. Imagine Lockwood retelling the story of the Linton and Earnshaw families on his return to society. Write thumbnail sketches of the characters Heathcliff, Nelly, Young Cathy, and Hareton as they appeared to Lockwood. Note: In order to do this writing, you must have a clear idea of Lockwood's character and the way in which he views others.
5. Imagine Lockwood has to find a tenant to take over the Grange to live out the rest of his rental contract. How would he describe the location and the social life? Write a brief newspaper ad that would convince people to relocate to the country. Discuss what Lockwood would definitely leave out of his description.
6. Write Heathcliff's obituary. How would his life be described? How would he be remembered?
7. As a group select what you consider the key scenes in the unfolding of the action of the novel. Then work together to decide how to present theses scenes most effectively and dramatically. Each group will present their "play" of the novel, using correct chronological sequencing of events.
8. Write a letter from one character to another character, expressing the person's feelings and relationship to other characters.
9. Read one of Emily Brontë's poems about love, such as "Remembrance":
Cold in the earth – and the deep snow piled above thee
Far, far removed, cold in the dreary grave!
Have I forgot, my Only Love, to love thee,
Severed at last by Time's all-severing wave?
Cold in the earth, and fifteen wild Decembers
From those brown hills, have melted into spring –
Faithful indeed is the spirit and remembers
After such years of change and suffering!
No later light has lightened up my heaven,
No second morn has ever shone for me
All my life's bliss from thy dear life was given –
All my life's bliss is in the grave with thee.
(The Complete Poems of Emily Jane Brontë. Ed. C.W. Hatfield. New York: Columbia University Press, 1941.)
Freely write about the connections between the poem and the love relationship of Catherine and Heathcliff.
10. View a video of the novel. One popular version stars Timothy Dalton as Heathcliff and Anna Calder-Marshall as Catherine. Watch for the significant changes between the novel and film. How does the director control our sympathy for Catherine and Heathcliff? (Wuthering Heights. Screenplay by Patrick Tilly. Produced by Samuel Z. Arkoff and James H. Nicholson. Directed by Robert Fuest. England: American International Production, 1971.)
11. A technique called cybernetic strategy enables you to build on the analysis and responses to the novel of your classmates. Your teacher writes one different thought-provoking question on each of five sheets of poster-sized paper, and places the sheets, equally spaced, on the walls around the room with five chairs clustered around each sheet. The class is divided into groups of five, with each group assigned one sheet as their home base. Each group brainstorms and writes down their answers to each question. After five-seven minutes the teacher directs the groups to move to the next sheet and to add to the answers on that sheet. If there is time, the groups move around to all of the questions again, with subsequent moves limited to three-five minutes. At the end of the moves, the groups return to their home base to clarify and consolidate the answers. Then a member from each group reports to the whole class the synthesized answer for that group's question. (Note: Here are some synthesizing questions; these also can be done orally or as journal entries.
a. Compare and contrast the characters of Catherine and Young Cathy, Heathcliff and Hareton.
b. Identify (list) all the "love" relationships in the novel. What motivates each relationship or what is a person attracted to in the other?
c. List all the crucial events that Nelly influences. What are Nelly's motives?
d. List the characteristics of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. How do the descriptions reflect differences between the Earnshaws and the Lintons?)
12. The love relationship of Catherine and Heathcliff mirrors the love between Young Cathy and Hareton. How do the younger characters resemble their older counterparts? List the traits of Catherine; then list the traits of Cathy. How is the daughter like the mother? List the traits of Heathcliff and the traits of Hareton, the boy Heathcliff judges to be more his offspring than his own son, Linton. How is Hareton like Heathcliff? Then in the next stage consider how each of the younger generation is different from their "parents."
13. Study the theme of love as power by examining Old Earnshaw's relationship with his children and Heathcliff. What connections are established between love and control? How is the pattern of loving and withholding love continued in subsequent generations?
14. Read a modern novel of love across classes. How is it similar; how does it differ? (See bibliography)
15. As a group, describe a fictional situation of vengeance that could take place in a modern high school setting. Compare and contrast your story with Heathcliff's revenge. Discuss what motivates the avenger and the ultimate effect of the vengeful act.
16, Make a chart of Catherine's behavior after Heathcliff's return. What judgment does it lead you to make about her character? To what extent is she responsible for the events that follow?
17. Freely write about the feelings of Heathcliff after he leaves Wuthering Heights, convinced that he has been rejected by Catherine, and his return three years later. How does he feel when he first sees Catherine again? What does he say he has planned to do after seeing her? Why does he change his mind? When does he initiate his plan for revenge? How does it begin to develop? How would their lives have been different if Heathcliff had never returned?
18. How does Brontë maintain our sympathy for Catherine and Heathcliff even when their behavior becomes increasingly selfish and destructive?
19. Five reviews of Wuthering Heights from January 1848 were found in Emily's writing desk after her death. Here is a short excerpt from Douglas Jerrold's Weekly Newspaper, January 15, 1848: "In Wuthering Heights the reader is shocked, disgusted, almost sickened by details of cruelty, inhumanity, and the most diabolical hate and vengeance, and anon comes passages of powerful testimony to the supreme power of love – even over demons in the human form. The women in the book are of a strange fiendish-angelic nature, tantalizing, and terrible, and the men are indescribable out of the book itself." What is the review's analysis of the novel? Do you agree/disagree with the reviewer's comment? Why or why not? (The Brontës: The Critical Heritage. Ed. Miriam Allott. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1974.)
Books about Emily Brontë and Wuthering Heights
Allott, Miriam, editor. The Brontës: The Critical Heritage. London:
Routledge & Kegan, 1974.
Bentley, Phyllis. The Brontës. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1969.
Benvenuto, Richard. Emily Brontë. Boston: Twayne, 1982.
Chitham, Edward. A Life of Emily Brontë. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987.
Davies, Stevie. Emily Brontë: The Artists as a Free Woman. Manchester, Carcanet Press, 1983.
Fraser, Rebecca. The Brontës: Charlotte Brontë and her Family. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1988.
Gregor, Ian, editor. The Brontës: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1970.
Hatfield, C.W., editor. The Complete Poems of Emily Jane Brontë. New York: Columbia University Press, 1941.
Books Related to Themes of Wuthering Heights
Family History and Family Relationship
Boissard, Janine. Cecile. Little, Brown, 1988.
Bridgers, Sue Ellen. Permanent Connections. Harper and Row, 1987.
Brooks, Bruce. Midnight Hour Encores. Harper & Row, 1987.
Carter, Alden R. RoboDad. Putnam, 1990.
Cleaver, Vera. Sweetly Sings the Donkey. Lippincott, 1985.
Fox, Paula. The Moonlight Man. Bradbury, 1986.
Guest, Judith. Ordinary People. Viking, 1976.
Hamilton, Virginia. Cousins. Philomel, 1990.
Hobbs, Will. Changes in Latitudes. Atheneum, 1988.
Holland, Isabelle. Of Love and Death and Other Journeys. Lippincott, 1975.
Irwin, Hadley. Can't Hear You Listening. McElderry, 1990.
Kerr, M.E. Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack. Harper & Row, 1972.
Naylor, Phyllis Reynold. The Keeper. Mcmillan, 1986.
Oneal, Zibby. In Summer Light. Viking, 1985.
Paterson, Katherine. Jacob Have I Loved. Crowell, 1980.
Peck, Richard. Unfinished Portrait of Jessica. Delacorte, 1991.
Myers, Walter Dean. Crystal. Viking 1987.
Romantic and Ill-Fated Love
Baldwin, James. If Beale Street Could Talk. Dial, 1974.
Boissard, Janine. A Matter of Feeling. Little, Brown, 1979.
Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Signet Classic, 1960.
Cohen, Barbara. Roses. Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1984.
Greene, Bette. Summer of My German Soldier. Dial, 1973.
Guy, Rosa. My Love, My Love or the Peasant Girl. Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1985.
Hamilton, Virginia. A White Romance. Philomel, 1987.
Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. Scribner Classics Series, 1987.
Kerr, ME I Stay Near You. Harper & Row, 1985.
Leroux, Gaston. The Phantom of the Opera. Signet Classic, 1987.
Mazer, Norma Fox. Up in Seth's Room. Delacorte, 1979.
Mazer, Norma Fox. When We First Met. Scholastic, 1984.
Myers, Walter Dean. Motown and Did: A Love Story. Viking, 1984.
Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Signet Classic, 1964.
Townsend, John Rowe. Cloudy-Bright. Lippincott, 1984.
Chambers, Aidan. N.I.K. Now I Know. Harper & Row, 1988.
Cormier, Robert. The Chocolate War. Patheon, 1974.
Cormier, Robert. Beyond the Chocolate War. Pantheon, 1985.
Cormier, Robert. We All Fall Down. Delacorte, 1991.
Crutcher, Chris. Stotan! Morrow, 1986.
Galgut, Damon. A Sinless Season. Penguin, 1984.
Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. Coward, 1954.
Hall, Lynn. Sticks and Stones. Follett, 1972.
Hinton, S.E. The Outsiders. Viking, 1967.
Thompson, Julian E. Discontinued. Scholastic, 1985.
Nature Versus Civilization
Cormier, Robert. The Chocolate War. Pantheon, 1974.
Duncan, Lois. Killing Mr. Griffin. Little, Brown, 1978.
Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. Coward, 1954.
Paulsen, Gary. Hatchet. Penguin, 1988.
Paulsen, Gary. The River. Delacorte, 1991.
Jeanne M. McGlinn, Lecturer in the Department of Education at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, has a Ph.D. in Literature from the University of Kansas, where she taught courses in composition and literature. Currently she is director of the Reading and Critical Thinking Center at UNC-A and teaches Children's Literature and Humanities. Her research interests include multicultural literature, children's literature, and writing instruction.
James E. McGlinn. Associate Professor of Education at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, has a B.A. and an M.A. in English and an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Kansas. He has taught high school English and has directed developmental reading programs at Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kansas, and at UNC Asheville. He currently is teaching methods of teaching courses for grades 6-12 at UNC Asheville. His research interests include multicultural education, telecomputing, and cooperative learning.
W. Geiger (Guy) Ellis, Professor Emeritus at the University of Georgia, Department of Language Education, received his A.B. and M.Ed. degrees from the university of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) and his Ed.D. from the University of Virginia. For over 25 years, Guy has been active in teaching adolescent literature in the classroom and in training future teachers in its use, lecturing and writing extensively on the subject. He developed and edited The ALAN Review from 1978 to 1984, changing its focus from a newsletter to a fully referred journal with an emphasis on articles with research and instructional significance. His research has had heavy emphasis on the content of literature instruction.
Currently Professor and Chairperson of Education at the University of North
Carolina at Asheville, Arthea (Charlie) J.S. Reed has taught for 20 years on
both the high school and college level. She received her AB (Bethany College)
and her M.S. (Southern Connecticut State University) in English and her Ph.D.
(Florida State University) in Teacher Education. In addition to teaching, Charlie
was The ALAN Review (NCTE) editor from 1984 to 1990 and served as Co-Director
of the Mountain Area Writing Project (a part of the National Writing Project)
from 1982 to 1988. She is also the author of Reaching Adolescents: Young
Adult Books and the Schools (Holt, 1985), Comics to Classics: A Parent's
Guide to Books for Teens and Preteens (IRA, 1988), and Point-Counterpoint:
An Introduction to Education (Dushkin, 1991).
© 2000-2013 Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.