Wuthering Heights
An Excerpt From
Wuthering Heights



EMILY JANE BRONTË (1818–48) was born at Thornton in Yorkshire. Two years later her father, Patrick Brontë, was appointed perpetual curate of Haworth, near Bradford. After the death of their mother in 1821 and of two elder sisters in 1825 the surviving Brontë children–Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell–were brought up in this somewhat bleak parsonage by their aunt, Elizabeth Branwell. They formed their own closely integrated society and, in the Biographical Notice to Wuthering Heights, Charlotte explains the inducement to write: ‘We were wholly dependent on ourselves and each other, on books and study, for the enjoyments and occupations of life. The highest stimulus, as well as the liveliest pleasure we had known from childhood upwards, lay in attempts at literary composition.’ They wrote tales, fantasies, poems, journals and serial stories, and brought out a monthly magazine. Emily collaborated with Anne to write the Gondal cycle, which inspired some of her most passionate poems. After Charlotte’s discovery of her poetry notebooks, Emily reluctantly agreed to a joint publication with her sisters of Poems (attributed to Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell, 1846). She is best remembered, however, for her only novel, Wuthering Heights (1847; written under the pseudonym Ellis Bell). Published a year before her death from tuberculosis, it is perhaps the most passionately original novel in the English language.

PAULINE NESTOR teaches English literature at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. She read for a BA at the University of Melbourne and for an M.Phil and D.Phil at Oxford University. She has written Female Friendships and Communities (1985), Charlotte Brontë (1987), Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1992) and George Eliot (2002) and edited Villette New Casebook (1992).

LUCASTA MILLER was educated at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, and is the author of The Brontë Myth (2001).

SUE LONOFF’s books include Approaches to Teaching Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (coeditor), a critical bilingual edition of Charlotte and Emily Brontë, The Belgian Essays, and Wilkie Collins and His Victorian Readers. She is Senior Associate of the Derek Bok Center at Harvard University and a member of the Harvard Extension School faculty.


Wuthering Heights

A Penguin Enriched eBook Classic

Edited with an Introduction and Notes by


Enriched eBook Features Editor





Further Reading

Note on the Text

Genealogical Table

Biographical Notice of Ellis and Acton Bell

Editor’s Preface to the New [1850] Edition


How to Navigate Guide


Nineteenth-Century Reviews

Wuthering Heights Trivia

Suggested Further Reading

Photos Related to Emily Brontë’s Life

Enriched eBook Notes


When I first read Wuthering Heights at the age of twelve I was confused, affronted even, by its failure to conform to my expectations. The opening pages introduced a narrator whom I could not like, let alone trust; its tone disturbed me; and Heathcliff had none of Laurence Olivier’s seductive charm.

My preconceptions had, of course, been unwittingly formed not by the book itself but by the classic 1939 Hollywood film and the popularly held but misleading assumption that Wuthering Heights represents the locus classicus of bodice-ripping romantic fiction. Looking back, I seem to have made an error as comical as that of Emily Brontë’s Lockwood when, in Volume I, Chapter II, he mistakes a pile of dead rabbits for his hostess’s pet cats. What I found was infinitely more unsettling than what I had expected, and it changed my attitude to reading. Up until then, books had been a source of uncomplicated, escapist pleasure. Here, instead, was one that put me in a state of alert anxiety and bafflement.

Emily Brontë’s masterpiece must be one of the most frequently adapted novels in the canon. Its wide dissemination has given it the status of a modern myth, and it has inspired films and plays, sequels and poetry, an opera, a musical and a number one pop song. Yet many of these reinterpretations have been bent on normalizing what is, as Pauline Nestor points out in her Introduction, a radically transgressive book. Cathy and Heathcliff’s mutual passion may have become a byword for the archetypal love affair. But it is, in fact, a quasi-incestuous, oddly unerotic relationship, more Romantic than romantic, which threatens to undermine certainties as basic as that of individual identity.

The fact that Wuthering Heights has attracted so many layers of cultural accretion can be seen as a response to its unsettling nature. It is a book that generates tensions–between dream and reality, self and other, natural and supernatural, realism and melodrama, structural formality and emotional chaos–but leaves them unresolved. This lack of resolution is, perhaps, what makes it so haunting. But it has also provoked an unacknowledged drive among critics, biographers and adaptors to pin it down, control it, or explain it away.

The idea that Wuthering Heights needs taming has been around from the moment it was published, pseudonymously, in 1847. Though some of the early critics admired its power and originality, all found it strange, and many were disgusted by its scenes of cruelty and rejection of conventional morality. More significant for the subsequent reputation of the novel and its author were the ambiguous and contradictory comments made by Charlotte Brontë in the ‘Biographical Notice’ and ‘Preface to Wuthering Heights’, which she published in 1850 after Emily’s death.

Charlotte presented her remarks as a demystifying exercise: she was, for the first time, revealing to the public the real identity of ‘Ellis Bell’. But rather than offering unvarnished facts, she created a legend. Like many who came after her, she responded to the discomfort created by Wuthering Heights by taking refuge in myth.

Instead of acknowledging Emily’s intellectual sophistication, she presented her as a simple country girl, who was not ‘learned’ and had written a shocking book as a result of naïvety rather than knowingness. Disingenuously, she presented their home as an isolated and uncivilized wilderness peopled by ‘unlettered moorland hinds and rugged moorland squires’. In fact, the industrial township of Haworth was much less cut off culturally than she implied, and Emily was a highly, if haphazardly, educated woman. Yet if Charlotte’s romanticization of Yorkshire life was designed to appeal to the sympathies of the London literary world, her need to mythologize her sister was not simply a question of public relations.

Charlotte seems to have been genuinely troubled by Emily’s rebellious imagination. She had always felt an ambivalent urge both to protect and to control her beloved but often recalcitrant younger sister. In the Preface she wants both to heroize her (‘stronger than a man’) and to infantilize her (‘simpler than a child’). What she cannot do is to accept Emily as a conscious, adult artist in control of her own creation. She cannot bear to think of her as responsible for the ‘unredeemed’ figure of Heathcliff, so she takes the responsibility away, presenting Emily as an unthinking vessel through which ‘Fate or Inspiration’ pours.

Though Charlotte had intended to rescue her sister from critical opprobrium, her words would have an equivocal effect on Emily’s reputation. It would take a long time for critics to stop regarding Wuthering Heights as the flawed product of a childish mind or the mystic ramblings of a moorland sibyl. Reluctance to believe that it was the work of an innocent young woman even led to the apocryphal claim that Branwell Brontë, rather than Emily, had written it.

In fact, the literary features that make the novel so uncanny are not simply freakish but can be analysed, culturally, through its relationship to Romanticism. But even after Mrs Humphry Ward first formulated this view a century ago, popularizers of the Brontë legend continued to seek the answer to Emily’s riddle in sentimental or sensational claims about mystery lovers and supernatural visitations. Like the Hollywood love-story versions of her novel, these provided an easy answer to her uneasy legacy.

We can never, in a sense, finish reading Wuthering Heights. Yet in the century and a half since it was written, it does seem that progress has been made in critics’ willingness not only to recognize its brilliance but to live with–and even celebrate–the discomfort it arouses. Since my first, confused attempt, I have reread it many times, and have been helped in my reading by the work of many modern critics. But in some way, that immature first exposure had a raw quality that I look back on with nostalgia as well as amusement. It shattered my complacency and gave me the first hint that great literature was as much about questions as about answers. In Chapter 9, Cathy tells Nelly Dean, ‘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.’ Wuthering Heights is just that sort of dream.

Lucasta Miller

Chronology: Emily Brontë’s Life and Works

1818 30 July: Emily Jane born, fifth child of the Reverend Bronte Patrick Brontë and Maria Branwell. Older siblings: Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte, Branwell. Younger sibling: Anne.

1820 17 January: Anne Brontë born. April: Family moves to Haworth Parsonage.

1821 15 September: Mother dies.

1824 25 November: Emily joins her sisters Maria, Elizabeth and Charlotte at Cowan Bridge school for daughters of the clergy (portrayed by Charlotte as Lowood school in Jane Eyre).

1825 14 February: Maria sent home ill from school. Dies 6 May. 31 May: Elizabeth sent home ill from school. Charlotte and Emily removed the following day. Elizabeth dies 15 June.

1826 The four surviving children collaborate in writing ‘plays’ inspired originally by Branwell’s receipt of toy soldiers.

1831 Emily and Anne begin to create their own stories known as the Gondal saga.

1835 29 July: Emily attends Roe Head school. Suffers from homesickness and returns to Haworth after only three months, her health ‘broken’. Anne takes Emily’s place at Roe Head.

1836 12 July: Emily’s first extant poem, ‘Will the day be bright or cloudy?’.

1837 Writes a further nineteen poems.

1838 Emily takes position as junior teacher at Law Hill girls’ school. Once again health breaks down. Returns home March/April 1839. Writes a further twenty-one poems.

1838–42 Over half the surviving poems written.

1841 30 July: Emily’s diary paper reports: ‘A scheme is at present in agitation for setting us up in a school of our own’.

1842 February: Accompanies Charlotte to Brussels to M. Heger’s school for girls.
29 October: Aunt Elizabeth Branwell dies. Charlotte and Emily return from Brussels on the news of their aunt’s death. Emily refuses to return with Charlotte for a second year.
December: The three Brontë sisters (and a female cousin) each inherit approximately £300 from Aunt Branwell.

1844 Emily copies poetry into two books titled ‘Gondal Poems’ and ‘EJB’.

1845 30 June: Emily and Anne take a three-day trip to York–a rare excursion away from home for Emily: ‘our first long journey by ourselves’.
Autumn: Charlotte discovers Emily’s MS volume of verse and persuades her sisters to seek publication for an anthology of their poetry.

1846 May: poems published pseudonymously as Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell at the sisters’ expense. 4 July: Charlotte writes to London publisher Henry Col-burn offering ‘three tales, each occupying a volume and capable of being published together or separately’ (i.e. Charlotte’s The Professor, Emily’s Wuthering Heights and Anne’s Agnes Grey).

1847 October: Charlotte publishes Jane Eyre to critical acclaim after her first effort, The Professor, was rejected by a string of publishers.
December: Wuthering Heights published in a single edition with Anne’s Agnes Grey.

1848 24 September: Branwell dies. 19 December: Emily dies.

1849 28 May: Anne dies.

1850 December: Charlotte edits a new edition of Wuthering Heights (with Agnes Grey, a Biographical Notice [see below], and selected poetry of Emily and Anne), regularizing Emily’s idiosyncratic style and censoring her more vigorous expression.

1854 29 June: Charlotte marries Arthur Nicholls.

1855 31 March: Charlotte dies.


New readers are advised that this Introduction makes the detail of the plot explicit.


Emily Brontë was born, the fifth of six children, on 30 July, 1818, and grew up in the parsonage of the Yorkshire village of Haworthi2. Although it was not the tiny hamlet that popular legend has invented, but rather a town of almost 5,000 inhabitantsi1 with a thriving textile industryi3, Emily’s life in Haworth was largely confined to the familial sphere–isolated in a house on the edge of the town, with the church and graveyard as a buffer in front and the moors as an escape behind. Her early childhood was shadowed by death–first that of her mother in 1821, and then of her two older sisters, Maria and Elizabeth in 1825. It is little wonder that when she began to write stories in her childhood, they were full of the miraculous consolation of characters who rose from the dead with some regularity.

For most of her life Emily shared her world with her two sisters, Charlotte and Anne, her brother Branwell, her aunt, her father and the family servant, Tabby. The two things that mattered most to her were the reassuring ordinariness of the domestic family routine, and the magic of an imaginary world she created in childhood with her sister Anne in a sequence of stories known as the Gondal saga. Although she read a great deal, Emily cared very little for the world beyond her beloved Yorkshire moors and her immediate circle. The political and social life of London, barely 200 miles away, which so tantalized her older sister Charlotte, was less real and less important to Emily than the fantasy world she shared with Anne. Her priorities are clear, for example, in the birthday note that she wrote, like a small time capsule, on the occasion of Branwell turning twenty. The year was 1837, and England was obsessed with the coronation of the young Queen Victoria. Yet in Emily’s world, that momentous event barely rates a mention:


Monday evening June 26 1837

A bit past 4 o’Clock Charolotte working in Aunts room Branwell reading Eugene Aram to her Anne and I writing in the drawing room–Anne a poem beginning ‘fair was the evening and brightly the sun–I Agustus Almedes life 1st vol–4th page from the last a fine rather coolish thin grey cloudy but Sunny day Aunt working in the little Room papa gone out. Tabby in the Kitchin–the Emperors and Empresses of Gondal and Gaaldine preparing to depart from Gaaldine to Gondal to prepare for the coranation which will be on the 12th of July Queen Victoria ascended the throne this month. Northangerland in Monceys Isle–Zamorna at Eversham. all tight and right in which condition it is to be hoped we shall all be on this day 4 years at which time Charollote will be 25 and 2 months–Branwell just 24 it being his birthday–myself 22 and 10 months and a peice Anne 21 and nearly a half 1 wonder where we shall be and what kind of a day it will be then let us hope for the best1


Written ten years before Wuthering Heights was published, Emily’s short note none the less reveals some of the same preoccupations and habits of mind which we find later replicated in her novel. There is the same pleasure in, and attention to, domestic detail; the same sense of a self-enclosed, almost hermetically sealed world; the alertness to the natural world; and the passionate engagement with the dark and fiery world of the imagination.

The corollary of Emily’s contentment with her Yorkshire world–her sense that all was ‘tight and right’–was her persistent unhappiness whenever she had to leave it. She was miserable in her brief excursions to school, first at Cowan Bridge, the boarding school she attended as a young girl (which Charlotte depicted so graphically as Lowood in Jane Eyre), and then at Roe Headi4; similarly, her later attempt to earn a living as a junior teacher at Law Hill girls’ school ended in failure after six months of unendurable homesickness; and she was so unhappy after studying for a year with Charlotte in Belgium that she flatly refused to return to the Continent with her sister for a second year at M. Heger’s school for girls.


By the time Emily Brontë died in 1848, the beginnings of a feminist movement were evident in England–in agitation for the female suffrage, for reform of the marriage laws, and for expansion of the opportunities for women’s education and employment–but few of the tangible benefits of that agitation became available to her. None the less, the relative unconventionality of her upbringing did afford her certain freedoms. From an early age, for example, she was inculcated with her father’s belief that his daughters should be equipped by education to make their own way in the world. In consequence, all the Brontë girls received some formal education and were instructed at home by their Cambridge-educated father. They also grew up with the example of their strong-minded and independent maiden aunt before them, and were spared the common pressure to marry. As Charlotte expressed it:


Come what may afterwards, an education secured is an advantage gained–a priceless advantage. Come what may it is a step towards independency–and one great curse of a single female life is its dependency…your daughters–as much as your sons–should aim at making their own way honourably through life. Do not wish to keep them at home. Believe me–teachers may be hardworked, ill-paid and despised–but the girl who stays at home doing nothing is worse off than the hardest-wrought and worst-paid drudge of a school.2


Teaching was one of the very few employment options available to daughters of the middle-class, and although all three sisters hated their subjection to ‘governessing slavery’, they did nourish the hope of beginning their own small school at home.

Emily and her sisters also escaped other constraints typically imposed on middle-class girls of the period. Through a combination of enlightenment and neglect, for example, her father gave virtual free rein to his children’s reading. They avidly consumed contemporary newspapers and magazines, and were as familiar with the racier comedies of Shakespeare and poetry of Byron, as they were with the Bible and The Pilgrim’s Progress. And, like her siblings, Emily found time for her own prolific juvenile writing, for though she was required to help with domestic tasks, her leisure was not as relentlessly supervised as that of many of her middle-class counterparts.

Within this environment, Emily was renowned for her independence of mind and strength of character. In the ‘Biographical Notice of Ellis and Acton Bell’ (reprinted below), for example, Charlotte described her sister as possessing ‘a secret power and fire that might have informed the brain and kindled the veins of a hero’, and she revered her as exceptional: ‘Stronger than a man, simpler than a child, her nature stood alone’ (Biographical Notice of Ellis and Acton Bell). Influenced by Charlotte’s vision, Elizabeth Gaskell similarly described Emily as one who was tenacious in her ‘habits of independence’ and drawn to the ‘fierce, wild, intractability’ of animals.3 Gaskell also approvingly quoted the romantic estimation of Emily offered by her Belgian teacher, M. Heger: ‘She should have been a man–a great navigator…Her powerful reason would have deduced new spheres of discovery from the knowledge of the old; and her strong imperious will would never have been daunted by opposition or difficulty; never have given way but with life’.4

In fact, there is not a great deal reliably known of the details of Emily’s life and character, and in many accounts speculation has stood in place of fact.5 And yet, the few vignettes we have offer tantalizing testimony to a fiercely independent and stoical nature, one apparently imbued with the same defiant spirit that informs both her poetry and her novel. So, for example, the stories told by Mrs Gaskell of Emily beating her beloved but ferocious and disobedient dog, Keeper, with her bare fists, or of her secretly cauterizing a bite received from a dog suspected to have rabies,6 seem to bear out the truth of the first line of one of her best known poems, ‘No coward soul is mine’.

In the end, though, Emily was no feminist. As tempting as it may be to read her character in such a light, in fact Emily’s strengths were personal and idiosyncratic, not underpinned by any shared ideology or sense of a common cause. Accordingly, whereas Charlotte’s novel Jane Eyre was famous for its claims for sexual equality (with the heroine insisting that ‘women feel just as men feel’ and that she is the ‘equal’ of the hero, Rochester), and Anne’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall contained an indictment of both sexual double standards and the unjust laws governing women in marriage, there are no such partisan politics in Emily’s novel.

When Kathleen Tillotson sought to characterize the novels of the 1840s, she noted that ‘the condition of the people’ came to be a prevalent theme and the ‘novel-with-a-purpose’ emerged as a common type: ‘Many novelists in the forties and fifties chose the stony and thorny ground of social and religious controversy’.7 Similarly, Raymond Williams claimed that a ‘new and major generation of novelists appeared in the 1840s’ and their distinguishing contribution and achievement was ‘the exploration of community’.8 Wuthering Heights, which was published in 1847, seems strangely at odds with these generalizations, defying the expectations they engender. Unlike the contemporaneous, industrial novels of Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, Benjamin Disraeli and Charles Kingsley, Wuthering Heights shows no engagement with wider social issues; its environment is enormously detached. Lockwood, the narrator, is a token and disruptive outsider and even the life of the nearest village, Gimmerton, seems remote, unknown and only sketchily reported. The realm of the Heights and Thrushcross Grange functions as a world unto itself, an exclusive reality for the text, so that when characters leave that world, as Heathcliff and Isabella do, they seem mysteriously to disappear into a void.

If Wuthering Heights seems out of place in its historical moment, it can perhaps be better understood in terms of its relation to earlier works, most notably the Gothic novel of the late eighteenth century and the poetry of the Romantics. Like the Gothic novel, it creates a dark and passionate world of imprisonment and torture, ghosts and changelings. And it shares with the Romantics a preoccupation with the authority of the imagination and emotion, a concern for the formative influence of childhood and for man’s relation to the natural world. Its focus is ‘antisocial’, rather than communal or ethical, and its central character, Heathcliff, stands as a version of the Byronic hero.


Although Wuthering Heights shocked many of its initial readers, it none the less enjoyed modest success in its time. Its ‘intrinsic excellence’ was recognized in some degree by contemporary critics9 and interest in the work was buoyed after Emily’s death in 1848 both by association with the success of Charlotte’s novels and by a growing fascination with the Brontës’ biography. Initially, enormous curiosity had been sparked by the almost simultaneous appearance of works by three anonymous sisters, suggesting an extraordinary concentration of talent in one family, and this was later fuelled by the remarkable details of the Brontës’ isolated and eccentric existence on the Yorkshire moors, which were vividly chronicled in Elizabeth Gaskell’s The Life of Charlotte Brontë (1857).

All the same, Wuthering Heights achieved nothing like the success of Charlotte’s Jane Eyre, which was the runaway best seller of 1847. In fact, it was not until the twentieth century that Emily’s novel began to enjoy the popularity and critical esteem it deserved. Subsequently, however, Wuthering Heights has emerged as one of those rare texts, like Frankenstein and Dracula, which has transcended its literary origin to become part of the lexicon of popular culture–the subject of film, song and even comedy. At the same time it has become one of the most written about novels in the language, to the point where the novel’s critical history reads like the history of criticism itself.

After the modest acclaim of the nineteenth century, the beginning of the twentieth century saw the changing tide of critical opinion marked by Mrs Humphrey Ward’s influential Introduction to the Haworth edition of the works of the Brontë sisters. Ward claimed that Emily was a greater writer than Charlotte, and her view was later reinforced by David Cecil in his Early Victorian Novelists (1934). With the rise of New Criticism in the 1940s numerous studies provided detailed close reading of the text, severing the tenacious biographical moorings of so much of the earlier criticism and making claims for the formal sophistication and accomplishment of the novel.10 Such studies focused on the imagery, metaphysics and complex narrative structure of the novel. More recently, ideological readings by Marxist, feminist and psychoanalytic critics have concentrated on issues of class, gender and sexuality, and all have been inclined to highlight conflict and division in the novel.11

This extraordinary diversity of interpretation has itself become the subject of critical investigation. Michael Macovski, for example, suggests that the novel ‘foregrounds the act of interpretation by framing the characters’ experiences within the context of sustained audition. In fact, in order for these characters to “let out” (in Catherine’s words) their secrets, the presence of an interpreter appears to be vital’.12 Similarly, in ‘Coherent Readers, Incoherent Texts’ James Kincaid claims that the novel insists on a multiplicity of readings.13 Frank Kermode argues more generally that in works of art like Wuthering Heights an openness or ‘patience’ of interpretation–what he calls a ‘surplus of signifiers’–forms the measure of greatness.14


Wuthering Heights, then, offers many things to many readers–critics and general readers alike. Perhaps its abiding fascination stems from the fact that the novel not only incorporates elements from a number of genres, but also interrogates those different elements by creating a tension between them. So, for example, the pleasure of familiar detail provided by the text’s realism is challenged by the transgressive power of the genres of fantasy and horror, gratifying our taste both for the ‘emotions of recognition’ and for the ‘emotions of surprise’.15 Similarly, the intensity and escapism of the novel’s romance is counterbalanced by the astute understanding and hard-headedness of its psychological exploration.

The popular conception of the novel’s greatness tends to focus on the power of the book’s central relationship between Cathy and Heathcliff. Indeed, the work’s attraction as a love story is not difficult to isolate. On one level, the novel appears to celebrate a transcendent love which surpasses the bounds of authority, mundanity, even death. Cathy and Heathcliff share a bond of consummate endurance and understanding, and in positing such a relationship, the novel both recognizes and explicitly appeals to a universal desire in relationship for the perfect Other:


I cannot express it; but surely you and every body have a notion that there is, or should be, an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of my creation if I were entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff’s miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning; my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and, if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the Universe would turn to a mighty stranger. (Vol. I, Ch. IX)


However, while the novel may seem to hold out the promise of such satisfaction on one level, in a more complex and more interesting way it actually investigates, rather than exemplifies, the romantic cliché of perfect love. So, even Cathy’s celebrated declaration of love for Heathcliff is undermined by the flawed premise on which it is based. When she dismisses as nonsense Nelly’s concern that Heathcliff will feel rejected by her marriage to Edgar–‘This is for the sake of one who comprehends in his person my feelings to Edgar and myself’ (Vol. I, Ch. IX)–she is wrong to do so. As she discovers to her great cost, Heathcliff does not ‘comprehend’ and, in imagining his complete understanding, Cathy has been guilty of projecting her vision and desire on to Heathcliff. That element of projection is clearer still when Cathy is faced with the intransigent reality of Heathcliff’s pain and she declares, ‘That is not my Heathcliff. I shall love mine yet; and take him with me–he’s in my soul’ (Vol. II, Ch. I).

Of course, Cathy is not the only character to displace her desires and fears on to Heathcliff. Lockwood foolishly imagines that he and Heathcliff are soul mates–‘I know, by instinct, his reserve springs from an aversion to showy displays of feeling’ (Vol. I, Ch. I)–and old Mr Earnshaw constructs a version of the perfect son in Heathcliff (Vol. I, Ch. IV), while Nelly inclines to the opposite extreme and envisions the devil in him. It is the mystery surrounding Heathcliff–his lack of a personal history, his sullen uncommunicativeness, his almost magical capacity to remake himself during his absence from Wuthering Heights–which makes him such a suitable focus for others’ projections. Heathcliff is the ‘cuckoo’ without a history, an enigma so unsettling that Nelly is inclined, as indeed some critics have been subsequently,16 to invent a past for him:


Who knows, but your father was Emperor of China, and your mother an Indian queen, each of them able to buy up, with one week’s income, Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange together? And you were kidnapped by wicked sailors, and brought to England. Were I in your place, I would frame high notions of my birth (Vol. I, Ch. VII).


Lacking a personal narrative, and refusing to provide one, Heathcliff becomes the receptacle of other people’s fantasies. Thus, in a sense he is not so much the perfect mate for Cathy, as he is the perfect Other.

As many critics have noted, there is a childlike quality to Cathy’s love for Heathcliff, one reason perhaps why her ghost reappears as a child and her dreams of happiness are located in youth. This is not simply a matter of the innocence and naïvety with which Cathy imagines she can negotiate her twin loves for Edgar and Heathcliff and remains uncomprehending of her lovers’ jealousy. More fundamentally, Cathy’s effort to accommodate both loves represents an attempt to evade the necessity of choice and thereby avoid limitation. In effect, Cathy wants to have it all, an impulse that recalls what Freud has characterized as the polymorphous perversity of the infant. She is also capable of the narcissism of the infant in imagining herself to be universally loved and lovable. ‘How strange! I thought, though everybody hated and despised each other, they could not avoid loving me’ (Vol. I, Ch. XII).

This view of the infantile aspect of Cathy’s love can be taken further. When Cathy contends that Heathcliff represents an existence of hers beyond her and that ‘he’s more myself than I am’ (Vol. I, Ch. IX), she is in fact expressing the desire for an impossible symbiosis, for a state of non-differentiation between the self and Other which the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan contends belongs to the realm of the psychological ‘Imaginary’.17 It is significant that Catherine, like an infant, finds her own reflection in the mirror unrecognizable as, near death, she yearns for union with Heathcliff:


‘The black press? where is that?’ I asked. ‘You are talking in your sleep!’

‘It’s against the wall, as it always is,’ she replied. ‘It does appear odd–I see a face in it!’

‘There is no press in the room, and never was,’ said I, resuming my seat, and looping up the curtain that I might watch her.

‘Don’t you see that face?’ she enquired, gazing earnestly at the mirror.

And say what I could, I was incapable of making her comprehend it to be her own; so I rose and covered it with a shawl (Vol. I, Ch. XII).


While characterizing it as infantile, it is important nonetheless to recognize that Cathy’s longing for ‘Imaginary’ union and completeness is not in itself unusual or aberrant.18 However, it does represent the very opposite of mature sexuality.19 Furthermore, this ‘Imaginary’ state is irrecoverable for the human subject precisely because it involves an abandonment of subjecthood or individual identity, and thus the pull towards it, though universally felt, represents a pull towards either psychosis or death. Significantly, when Edgar confronts Cathy starkly with the adult choice she must face–‘Will you give up Heathcliff hereafter, or will you give up me? It is impossible for you to be my friend, and his at the same time; and I absolutely require to know which you choose’ (Vol. I, Ch. XI)–Cathy seeks abandonment, first collapsing, then declining into madness and death.

Read in this way, the novel is far from a story of perfect love, but rather the exploration of both the tenacity and the impossibility of such desire. Accordingly, there is never a consummation of Cathy and Heathcliff’s love. Instead, their reunion at Catherine’s death-bed is remarkable principally for the thwarted and desperate nature of the exchange:


Her present countenance had a wild vindictiveness in its white cheek, and a bloodless lip, and scintillating eye; and she retained, in her closed fingers, a portion of the locks she had been grasping. As to her companion, while raising himself with one hand, he had taken her arm with the other; and so inadequate was his stock of gentleness to the requirements of her condition, that on his letting go, I saw four distinct impressions left blue in the colourless skin (Vol. II, Ch. I).


And throughout the rest of his life Heathcliff is consumed with frustration, finding himself both literally and figuratively haunted by the endless deferral of satisfaction:


I could almost see her, and yet I could not! I ought to have sweat blood then, from the anguish of my yearning, from the fervour of my supplications to have but one glimpse! I had not one…And when I slept in her chamber–I was beaten out of that–I couldn’t lie there; for the moment I closed my eyes, she was either outside the window, or sliding back the panels, or entering the room, or even resting her darling head on the same pillow as she did when a child. And I must open my lids to see. And so I opened and closed them a hundred times a night–to be always disappointed! It racked me! (Vol. II, Ch. XV).


In the end, such is the paradox of the impossible desire, that it is at odds with the desiring body, as Heathcliff himself recognizes: ‘My Soul’s bliss kills my body, but does not satisfy itself’ (Vol. II, Ch. XX). It can only lead toward annihilation of the body, a fate that both Heathcliff and Cathy in some ways choose for themselves.


Cathy’s desire to incorporate or fuse with the Other in the figure of Heathcliff brings her into tension with the boundaries of identity. So, when she makes her most fundamental yet extravagant claim–‘Nelly, I am Heathcliff’ (Vol I, Ch. IX)–she is clearly challenging conventional notions of selfhood and individuality. The novel achieves a similar effect at a formal level through the confusion it creates around the question of names. Just as Lockwood’s head swims with the variants of Catherine’s name–Catherine Earnshaw, Catherine Heathcliff, Catherine Linton–scratched on the window ledge, the reader must contend not only with changing names, but with a disconcerting duplication of names which frequently makes individual identity difficult to specify. Further, resemblances across the generations also blur distinctions. Lineage seems unclear as, for example, Cathy’s nephew Hareton resembles her more closely than her daughter Cathy, while Hareton seems the truer son of Heathcliff than his biological offspring Linton.

In such a world it is difficult to make assumptions, as Lockwood clownishly demonstrates. Entering the realm of Wuthering Heights, equipped with his conventional notions of the world, Lockwood’s chronic misreading of the situation stands as a warning against the adequacy of conventionality. Like Jabes Branderham’s sermon, the novel confronts us with ‘odd transgressions that [we] never imagined previously’ (Vol. I, Ch. III). Normally, we rely on boundaries both to regulate and to make sense of reality. Yet Emily Brontë’s novel challenges many of those boundaries and, in doing so, Wuthering Heights acquires a transgressive power that offers a potent blend of the satisfaction of fantasy and the fascination of horror.20

This transgression of boundaries takes place in the novel on both literal and figurative levels. A number of critics have noted the novel’s preoccupation with physical boundaries like walls, windows, gates, doorways, and locks.21 These boundaries are frequently guarded and just as frequently breached. So, while one character after another seeks to control his world by locking others in or out, the novel documents the failure of every such attempt.

Boundaries similarly serve the attempt to regulate psychic space, but, as the novel demonstrates, these figurative barriers are just as vulnerable as physical ones. As we have seen, the distinction between self and other is not as immutable in Wuthering Heights as we would normally imagine, and nor is that between male and female. Certainly in his Byronic ferocity Heathcliff might seem to exemplify one kind of masculine stereotype, and Isabella in her giddy romanticism suggests an opposing feminine weakness. However, between the two stereotypical extremes, the characters prove much more difficult to categorize for, as Joseph observes, ‘We’ve all as summut uh orther side in us’ (Vol. II, Ch. X). Before Cathy is carefully schooled in femininity at the Grange, for example, she is every bit a match for Heathcliff’s courage, recklessness and defiance, and in her decline she yearns again for that less constrained self: ‘I wish I were a girl again, half savage and hardy, and free…and laughing at injuries, not maddening under them! Why am I so changed?’ (Vol. I, Ch. XII). In contrast, Linton Heathcliff is depicted as extraordinarily effeminate, ‘more a lass than a lad’ (Vol. II, Ch. VII) in Hareton’s estimation. Accordingly, Linton adopts a traditionally feminine role in his courtship with the young Catherine, while Catherine’s comparative physical strength, courage and mobility suggest a more masculine one.

The novel does seem to appeal to stereotypical constructions of sex roles by suggesting that strategies for survival are gender-related. So, for example, in the face of suffering, Heathcliff’s impulse is towards revenge, whereas Cathy responds to adversity by turning to self-destruction: ‘Well, if I cannot keep Heathcliff for my friend–if Edgar will be mean and jealous, I’ll try to break their hearts by breaking my own’ (Vol. I, Ch. XI) [my italics]. Similarly, Isabella’s ‘first desire’ in the misery of her marriage is ‘to be killed by him’ (Vol. II, Ch. III). Both the impulse towards revenge and that towards self-destruction are violent, but the former is outwardly directed and sadistic, while the latter is inward turning and masochistic. The novel, however, does not allow us simply to regard one form of behaviour as inherently masculine and the other as feminine because it makes it clear that these strategies are determined much more by circumstance or necessity than by natural disposition or gender. Nelly points out, for example, that amongst the violent dispositions of the Earnshaws, Cathy’s ‘caps them all’ (Vol. I, Ch. XII) and Isabella is just as inclined as Heathcliff towards violence, although not as capable of it:


I surveyed the weapon inquisitively; a hideous notion struck me. How powerful I should be possessing such an instrument! I took it from his hand, and touched the blade. He looked astonished at the expression my face assumed during a brief second. It was not horror, it was covetousness. (Vol. I, Ch. XIII)


The high level of violence in the novel, accessible it seems to almost every character, also challenges assumptions about the restraining limits of civilized behaviour. Perhaps Heathcliff occupies such a liminal position,22 perceived as bordering at times on the beast, at other moments on the devil, that we are not shocked by his ‘half-civilized ferocity’ (Vol. I, Ch. X). But even the representatives of the civilized world of the Grange betray the tenuousness of the line between restraint and abandon, culture and nature. Edgar hates Heathcliff with ‘an intensity which the mildness of his nature would scarcely seem to allow’ (Vol. II, Ch. III), Linton longs to be capable of cruelty, ‘I heard him draw a pleasant picture to Zillah of what he would do, if he were as strong as I’ (Vol. II, Ch. XV) and Isabella, though herself a victim, is implicated in Heathcliff’s violence by her attraction to it:


The first thing she saw me do, on coming out of the Grange, was to hang up her little dog, and when she pleaded for it, the first words I uttered were a wish that I had the hanging of every being belonging to her, except one: possibly, she took that exception for herself–But no brutality disgusted her–I suppose she has an innate admiration of it, if only her precious person were secure from injury! (Vol. I, Ch. XIV).


Perhaps most unsettling of all is the shockingly vivid description of Lockwood dragging the ghostly child’s wrist across the broken window pane. It confronts us with the potential brutality that lurks in the unconscious of even the most innocuous character, and indeed the one whose position as an outsider and an auditor links him most closely with the reader.

The transgressive power of the novel is further evident in its flirtation with the fundamental taboos, especially those against incest and necrophilia. Strictly speaking, of course, incest is never committed in the novel because Heathcliff and Cathy are not blood relations and, in any case, their relationship is never consummated. None the less, there is a quasi-incestuous element to their bond, given their upbringing as brother and sister. This also resonates in the novel in the intermarriages of the second generation, in which Catherine marries her two cousins in succession, virtually without ever meeting an eligible male outside her family. Furthermore, before her marriages Catherine serves in a sense as a substitute partner for her father, whom she insists that she loves more than Linton (Vol. II, Ch. XIII). Indeed, when she escapes from her new husband, she flees to the embrace of her dying father, who ‘fixed upon her features his raised eyes that seemed dilating with ecstasy’ (Vol. II, Ch. XIV).

Heathcliff’s defiant refusal to accept the restrictions of any taboo is nowhere more evident than in his yearning for Catherine’s dead body. Flouting all convention, he unearths her coffin on the day she is buried and eighteen years later he removes the lid of her coffin and dreams of lying with his cheek ‘frozen against hers’ (Vol. II, Ch. XV). The specificity of his conversation with Nelly–‘And if she had been dissolved into earth, or worse, what would you have dreamt of then?’ (Vol. II, Ch. XV)–and of his plans to remove the adjoining sides of the two coffins, intrudes a shocking sense of the corporeal into what might other wise be seen as a conventional desire for reunion in the afterlife.23

Cathy’s ghost, the subsequent incarnation of her corpse, is equally unsettling, challenging not only the limits of life, but those of reality. It is significant that the ghost first appears in Lockwood’s dream, not just because this gives it an ambiguous plausibility but also because dreaming in Wuthering Heights proves a crucial source of knowledge and understanding. Both Cathy and Heathcliff envisage their happiness in dreams, and Cathy articulates their informing power to Nelly: ‘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’ (Vol. I, Ch. IX).

In some ways the whole world of the novel is dreamlike. Geographically remote, socially and temporally apart, it is a world operating as a law unto itself. Its transgressions of identity, sexuality and taboo are those of a dream state, which offers an uncensored realm, free from the strictures of logic, a space where boundaries do not hold. In dreams one can be at once the onlooker and the participant, the self and the other. The dream world is a place of multiplicity which does not demand the exclusions of choice. It is not structured by causality but by contiguity, so that within it, difference can exist without opposition, contradictory elements can exist side by side without disturbance or interaction. It is a mode more commonly associated with poetry than prose,24 yet it is distinctly the mode of Wuthering Heights.


Many critics have read the second half of the novel as signifying the restoration of order and balance in the second generation after the excesses and disruption of the first generation. Most famously, David Cecil has contended that the topographical opposition between the primitive natural world of the Heights and the cultivated decadent world of the Grange corresponds to a metaphysical opposition between the forces of storm and the forces of calm. With the marriage of Hareton and Catherine, Cecil argued, the wheel ‘has come full circle’ and ‘cosmic order has been established once more’.25 According to this view, Hareton’s planting of decorative flowers, under Catherine’s direction, in the functional vegetable garden at the Heights serves as an emblem of reintegration.

The problem with this reading of the novel is that it exaggerates the finality or resolution of the novel’s ending and also ignores the threatening sense of flux that has dominated the novel. The image used by Nelly, for example, to describe Cathy’s peaceful existence at the Grange–‘for the space of half a year, the gunpowder lay as harmless as sand’ (Vol. I, Ch. X)–suggests the precarious nature of her conversion and the ever-present potential for reversion. We cannot assume that the change in Hareton is any more secure, especially since, as we have seen, all the characters exhibit a capacity to resort to violence in certain circumstances.

Any sense of resolution is further undermined by the fact that the novel is full of characters who attempt to police inclusion and exclusion and yet whose endeavours are futile. This struggle to exclude is never clearer than in the image of the wall that separates off the cultivated park of the Grange from the wild and natural expanse of the moors. This barrier is, however, constantly breached from both sides as Heathcliff comes and goes at will and the youthful Catherine, despite her father’s prohibition, easily devises strategies for escape.

Cecil’s reading, like the many that have followed from it, also locates the source of dislocation too specifically in the passion between Heathcliff and Cathy and ignores the more generally disruptive power of desire in the novel. The world of the Grange is vulnerable to intrusion precisely because in some senses it longs for it. As Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar have pointed out, in Cathy’s first incursion to the Grange she does not so much enter that world as she is seized by it.26 Indeed, she and Heathcliff are in the process of fleeing when Cathy’s escape is arrested by the dog and she is then carried inside by the servant. Once he has encountered her, Edgar cannot let her go. Despite witnessing the violence of Cathy’s ‘genuine disposition’, which Nelly sees as his opportunity to ‘Take warning and begone!’, Edgar is irresistibly drawn: ‘he possessed the power to depart, as much as a cat possesses the power to leave a mouse half killed, or a bird half eaten’ (Vol. I, Ch. VIII). And having been drawn into commerce with this world, it is not something he can control. So, for example, when Cathy is taken to the Grange to convalesce, she introduces the fever which kills both Edgar’s parents. Later, too, he loses his sister to the forces of the Heights, when she is carried off and married by Heathcliff.

The world of the Heights is no more safe unto itself, no more capable of exclusion, than the Grange. Thus, although Heathcliff makes it his life’s project to nurture Hareton in brutality, he cannot regulate the younger man’s desire for Catherine, and must look on ‘confounded’ as he watches his work undone. Similarly, neither the isolation nor the xenophobia of the Heights–‘We don’t in general take to foreigners’ (Vol. I, Ch. VI)–is sufficient to protect it from the utterly unexpected intrusion of outsiders. First, the family is astonished by the introduction of the ‘gypsy brat’ Heathcliff, and then amazed once more by the appearance of Frances, Hindley’s wife. Both intruders come unexplained, without a prior history, and both owe their entry to the desire of the patriarch.

To argue, then, that the forces in the novel are reconciled and harmonious is to ignore the dynamics of attraction and repulsion, of inclusion and exclusion. The novel dramatizes the impossibility of fixity, the vulnerability of boundaries and the futility of attempts to regulate them. The Sisyphean nature of the endeavour has been underscored by Julia Kristeva, who, in Powers of Horrors, analyses the ways in which:


‘proper’ subjectivity and sociality require the expulsion of the improper, the unclean and the disorderly. This is not a new insight but a variation of Freud’s position in Totem and Taboo, where he claims that civilisation itself is founded on the expulsion of ‘impure’ incestual attachments. What is new is Kristeva’s assertion that what is excluded can never be fully obliterated but hovers at the borders of our existence, threatening the apparently settled unity of the subject with disruption and possible dissolution. It is impossible to exclude these psychically and socially threatening elements with any finality.27


Thus, it is not so much the centre, as Yeats would have it, that ‘cannot hold’, but the margins. Appropriately, the novel ends by conjuring up on the one hand the spectre of transgression in the ghosts of Cathy and Heathcliff, and noting on the other the refusal of the conventional man, Lockwood, to recognize such possibility: ‘I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers, for sleepers in that quiet earth’ (Vol. II, Ch. XX).


1. Quoted in Juliet Barker, The Brontës (London: Phoenix, 1995), p. 271.

2. The Brontës: Their Lives, Friendships and Correspondence, eds. T. J. Wise and J. A. Symington (Oxford: Shakespeare Head, 1934), III, p. 5.

3. Elizabeth Gaskell, The Life of Charlotte Brontë (1857; rpt. London: Dent, 1971), p. 258 and p. 184.

4. Elizabeth Gaskell, The Life of Charlotte Brontë, p. 151.

5. Edward Chitham highlights this paucity of information in his A Life of Emily Brontë (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987) by scrupulously separating out fact from fiction.

6. Elizabeth Gaskell, The Life of Charlotte Brontë, pp. 184–5.

7. Kathleen Tillotson, Novels of the Eighteen-Forties (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954), p. 81 and p. 115.

8. Raymond Williams, The English Novel: From Dickens to Lawrence (St Albans: Paladin, 1974), p. 8 and p. 11.

9. G. H. Lewes, Leader, 28 December, 1850, quoted in Miriam Allott (ed.), Emily Brontë Wuthering Heights A Casebook (London: Macmillan, Revised Edition, 1992), p. 64. This edition provides a valuable selection of contemporary reviews.

10. Such claims were anticipated by C. P. Sanger’s ground-breaking monograph, The Structure of Wuthering Heights (London: Hogarth Press, 1926).

11. For further details see Further Reading (p. xxxvi).

12. Michael Macovski, ‘Wuthering Heights and the Rhetoric of Interpretation’, ELH, 54 (1987), p. 366.

13. James Kincaid, ‘Coherent Readers, Incoherent Texts’, Critical Inquiry, 3 (1977), pp. 781–802.

14. Frank Kermode, ‘A Modern Way with a Classic’, New Literary History, V (Spring 1974), p. 434.

15. Henry James, Partial Portraits (London: Macmillan, 1888), p. 133.

16. See, for example, James Kavanagh in Emily Brontë (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1985) who suggests that Heathcliff has an Irish working-class heritage.

17. In this state the infant imagines a condition of absolute unity in the dyadic relation to the mother, in which no distinction exists between self and other, or subject and object. In order to achieve subjecthood, the infant must come to recognize itself as separate, as part not whole. In other words, in order to occupy the ‘I’ position, the infant must recognize the existence of that which is not-I. Lacan argues that a significant step in this process occurs with the mirror phase, when the infant comes to recognize its reflection in the mirror (either the literal mirror or the ‘reflection’ of the self given back to the infant by the perceptions of others).

18. In fact, Lacan suggests it is an ‘eternal and irreducible human desire…for the nonrelationship of zero, where identity is meaningless’. Jacques Lacan, The Language of the Self: the Function of Language in Psychoanalysis (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1968), p. 191.

19. As outlined, for example, by the French feminist theorist, Luce Irigaray:


Love is either the mode of becoming which appropriates the other to itself by consuming it, introjecting it into the self until it the self disappears. Or love is the movement of becoming that allows the one and the other to grow. For such love to exist, each one must keep its body autonomous. One must not be the source of the other, nor the other of the one. Two lives must embrace and fecundate each other with no preconceived goal or end for either.


Luce Irigaray, Passion élémentaires (1982), trans. Elizabeth Grosz in Sexual Subversions: Three French Feminists (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1989), p. 170.

20. For an illuminating discussion of the transgressive power of each genre see Rosemary Jackson, Fantasy: the Literature of Subversion (London: Methuen, 1981) and Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror: an Essay on Abjection, trans. Leon Roudiez (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984).

21. See especially Elizabeth Napier, ‘The Problem of Boundaries in Wuthering Heights’, Philological Quarterly 63 (1984), pp. 95–107. Also Dorothy Van Ghent, The English Novel: Form and Function (New York: Rinehart, 1953).

22. See Frank Kermode. ‘A Modern Way with a Classic’, p. 420.

23. In fact, the corpse can be seen as the ultimate transgressor, spanning the boundaries between life and death, as Julia Kristeva has noted: ‘The corpse seen without God, and outside of science, is the utmost of abjection. It is death infecting life. Abject. It is something rejected from which one does not part, from which one does not protect oneself as from an object.’ Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror, p. 4.

24. Edward Chitham notes just such qualities in Emily Brontë’s poetry: ‘Emily states, she does not compare. What is more, she states contradictory thoughts or feelings in adjacent poems’. A Life of Emily Brontë, p. 202.

25. David Cecil, Early Victorian Novelists (1934; rpt. London: Constable, 1960), p. 167.

26. Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, The Madwoman in the Attic: the Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979), p. 271.

27. Elizabeth Grosz, Sexual Subversions, p. 71.

Further Reading


Gazari, Janet (ed.), Emily Brontë. The Complete Poems, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1992. An excellent and readily available edition.

Roper, Derek with Chitham, Edward (eds.), The Poems of Emily Brontë, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995. The definitive scholarly edition of Brontë’s poetry.

Wise, T. J. and Symington, J. A. (eds.), The Brontës: Their Lives, Friendships and Correspondence, 4 vols., Oxford: Shakespeare Head Press, 1933. The most useful and complete primary source for Brontë letters.


Barker, Juliet, The Brontës, London: Phoenix Giants, 1994. Comprehensive biography of the Brontë family by former Curator and Librarian of the Brontë Parsonage Museum.

Chitham, Edward, The Birth of Wuthering Heights: Emily Brontë at Work, Hampshire: Macmillan, 1998. Makes the most of sketchy information to offer insight into the writing of Wuthering Heights–its sources, composition history and relationship to Emily Brontë’s poetry.

Chitham, Edward, A Life of Emily Brontë, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987. A scrupulous account which carefully distinguishes between fact, speculation and fiction.

Gaskell, Elizabeth, The Life of Charlotte Brontë, London: Dent, 1974. The pioneering classic of Brontë biography written by Charlotte’s friend and fellow novelist, which provides a sympathetic and engaging contemporary account.

Miller, Lucasta, The Brontë Myth, London: Jonathan Cape, 2001. A fresh and astute examination of the whole industry that has grown up around Brontë biography.


Allott, Miriam (ed.), Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (Casebook), London: Macmillan, 1970. A collection of critical responses to Wuthering Heights which provides a useful historical overview of fashions and prejudices in criticism.

Allott, Miriam (ed.), The Brontës: The Critical Heritage, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1974. A valuable collection of contemporary reviews of the Brontës’ work.

Bloom, Harold (ed.), Modern Critical Views: The Brontës, New York: Chelsea House, 1987. Collects a range of important essays, representing a broad spectrum of critical perspectives.

Davies, Stevie, Emily Brontë, Brighton: Harvester, 1988. Interprets Wuthering Heights as a defiant assertion of the primacy of the anarchic, uncensored, egotistic ‘theatre of childhood’.

Davies, Stevie, Emily Brontë (Writers and Their Work), Plymouth, UK: Northcote House, 1998. A lively and contentious reading of both the novel and the novelist, arguing that the book is marked at once by a drive toward comprehension and a resistance to interpretation.

Eagleton, Terry, Myths of Power: A Marxist Study of the Brontës, London: Macmillan, 1975. Some distortion takes place in the interests of an ideological reading but remains interesting as the first Marxist study of the Brontës.

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights

A Penguin Enriched eBook Classic

Introduction by:
Preface by:
Notes by: