Thirty years earlier, Mr. Earnshaw, master of Wuthering Heights, returned from a trip to Liverpool with an unkempt orphan in tow, announcing to his wife and children that the child was now a member of the family. While young Catherine Earnshaw became close with this boy, Heathcliff, her older brother Hindley sank into bitter resentment of the urchin who had usurped his father’s and his sister’s affections—a feeling that only deepened when his father sent him away to college. As Catherine and Heathcliff grew into young adults, and their affection blossomed into desire, Hindley’s resentment boiled over into hatred, setting the stage for a tragic and twisted drama whose aftermath would shake the foundations of both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange.
Introduced to a serpentine plot; emotionally tortured, larger-than-life characters; and a richly gothic atmosphere, many critics viewed Wuthering Heights as a brilliant folly when it was first published. Readers have spent the last century and a half regarding it one of the most popular novels in history.
Barnes & Noble’s Signature Classics series offers readers great works of literature in affordable, beautifully designed editions. Each book features an authoritative text with an informative introduction and notes by a scholar expert, as well as a chronology of the author’s life, a discussion of adaptations of the work for film, television, and other media, and a bibliography of suggested further reading. These books are essential reading for lovers of classic literature and a foundation for any home library.
About the Author
John Bugg is Professor in the Department of English at Fordham University in New York City. He is the author of Five Long Winters: The Trials of British Romanticism (Stanford UP, 2013) and editor of The Joseph Johnson Letterbook (2016). His essays and reviews have appeared in PMLA, ELH, TLS, Romanticism, and several other journals
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Excerpted from "Wuthering Heights"
Copyright © 2012 Emily Bronte.
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Table of ContentsAcknowledgements
Note on the Text
A Chronology of Emily Bront
Wuthering Heights: Main Text
Appendix 1: Contemporary Reviews of Wuthering Heights
Appendix 2: Charlotte Bront 's Prefaces to the 1850 Edition
Appendix 3: Selected Poems by Emily Bront
Reading Group Guide
1. To what extent do you think the setting of the novel contributes to, or informs, what takes place? Do you think the moors are a character in their own right? How do you interpret Bronte's view of nature and the landscape?
2. Discuss Emily Bronte's careful attention to a rigid timeline and the role of the novel as a sober historical document. How is this significant, particularly in light of the turbulent action within? What other contrasts within the novel strike you, and why? How are these contrasts important, and how do they play out in the novel?
3. Do you think the novel is a tale of redemption, despair, or both? Discuss the novel's meaning to you. Do you think the novel's moral content dictates one choice over the other?
4. Do you think Bronte succeeds in creating three-dimensional figures in
Heathcliff and Cathy, particularly given their larger-than-life metaphysical passion? Why or why not?
5. Discuss Bronte's use of twos: Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange; two families, each with two children; two couples (Catherine and Edgar, and Heathcliff and Isabella); two narrators; the doubling-up of names. What is Bronte's intention here? Discuss.
6. How do Mr. Lockwood and Nelly Dean influence the story as narrators? Do you think they are completely reliable observers? What does Bronte want us to believe?
7. Discuss the role of women in Wuthering Heights. Is their depiction typical of Bronte's time, or not? Do you think Bronte's characterizations of women mark her as a pioneer ahead of her time or not?
8. Who or what does Heathcliff represent in the novel? Is he a force of evil or a victim of it? How important is the role of class in the novel, particularly as it relates to Heathcliff and his life?