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Wuthering Heights: a Theme of Good and Evil in Brontë's Novel

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In this Wuthering Heights theme essay, it is analyzed how Emily Brontë explores the contrast between good and evil through various aspects of the novel. The setting, characters, and supernatural elements all contribute to this exploration. Brontë creates a clear distinction between two different settings: Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights. Thrushcross Grange is portrayed as a welcoming and friendly place, with well-maintained grounds and domestic staff. Its depiction of fine weather symbolizes the bright and compassionate side of humanity, which represents the good side. In contrast, Wuthering Heights is a dark and hostile place, where violence and revenge seem to be the norm. The characters in the novel also reflect this contrast between good and evil, with characters like Catherine Earnshaw and Edgar Linton representing the good, while Heathcliff embodies the darker side of humanity. Finally, the supernatural elements in the novel add to the eerie atmosphere and contribute to the theme of good vs. evil. Overall, Brontë’s Wuthering Heights explores the complex relationship between good and evil and how they are intertwined.

Conversely, Wuthering Heights is a depiction of evil. This is evident from its particular characteristics like being dark and stormy. The place is described as being a noteworthy regional adjective, expressive of the atmospheric commotion to which its position is exposed in wild climate. Moreover, Brontë says that “…pure, bracing ventilation they must have up there at all times, indeed: one may guess the power of the north wind blowing over the edge…by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun’. The description adds on to the notion of evil in Wuthering Heights. The pace showcases the wild and dissolute aspects of nature. The setting contrast appearing between Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights is critical to the novel not only because of what it symbolizes but also because of the contribution it makes to the book. The light and dark, good and evil contrasts aid in providing a greater comprehension of the turmoil faced by the characters in the process of battling with their moral and wicked internal forces.

In Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë displays the constructive morals of conventional, cultured, human behavior, that is believed to be good, contrary to the evil; wicked and rebellious side of humanity by contrasting characters like Catherine and Heathcliff. Catherine and Thrushcross Grange are similar in that she personifies the serenity and light at the Grange with her peace and sparkle. Moreover, she always showed kindness to the people around her. One incidence is when she “…took a hand of each of the children, and brought them into the house and set them before the fire, which quickly put color into their white faces…”. Such simple acts go a long way in depicting someone’s compassion and loving nature. Therefore, Catherine is a clear symbol of good and morality in the novel.

On the other hand, according to Hood, Heathcliff symbolizes Wuthering Heights in that they are both rugged and dark, ferocious, and wild. He is depicted as evil right from the dark color of his eyes and hair. Heathcliff himself desires for a lighter complexion to become a better person clearly outlining the connection with the black color and evil. Moreover, various individuals used words like ‘the devil’ and ‘hell’ to refer to Heathcliff, and the author also uses the word ‘diabolical’ and hellish ‘villain’ throughout the book to emphasize the tremendous evil Heathcliff harbors. Heathcliff himself in most of his conversations used abusive words to refer to people. For instance, when telling Hareton to take Catherine out of the room, he says, ‘Damnable witch! Dare you pretend to rouse him against me? Off with her! Do you hear? Fling her into the kitchen! I’ll kill her, Ellen Dean, if you let her come into my sight again!’. The words go ahead to portray the evil in Heathcliff that makes him even to have thoughts of killing someone.

Furthermore, supernatural instances are introduced in Gothic books to remove the stories from the ordinary, and lead the reader to partially abandon what is factual and go in the fantasy with their imagination as stated by Fořtová. In Wuthering Heights, the supernatural is presented by the introduction of ghosts, that not only frighten the readers, but also inhibits the story and, in conjunction with the villain-hero and occurrence of violence, substantially affect its stream of proceedings. Notably, the appearance of Catherine’s ghost is vital to the novel because it swiftly affects the story’s conclusion. The ghost initially appeared to Mr. Lockwood in a dream right at the novel’s commencement and is carefully linked with the end since it demonstrates Heathcliff’s constant longing to reunite with Catherine. The latter meets Catherine’s ghost, preceding the novel’s end.

It is clear that the appearance of Catherine’s ghost determines the final course of events in the story. This is because Heathcliff’s vengeance, which was the driving force of the novel, loses its purpose and sense, as his affection for Catherine, the primary cause of the retaliation, is no longer unsatisfied. Moreover, just after their reunion, Heathcliff follows her to the grave. Consequently, the story terminates with the demise of Heathcliff, and the residual characters can move on with their lives lacking the terror of Heathcliff’s ferocious deeds as a part of his vengeance. Therefore, the first supernatural act revealing Lockwood’s meeting with Catherine’s ghost represents its essence in the setting of the overall story. Besides, the end of Heathcliff’s life, caused by the appearances of Catherine’s ghost, highlights the finality on his principal behavior – the retaliation of his unsatisfied love – leading his demise, along with the conclusion of the whole novel. The supernatural occurrence clearly shows that in as much as the appearance of a ghost is wrong and frowned upon in most societies; some good came out of it.

In conclusion, Wuthering Heights author successfully and carefully contrasted good and evil in her book. This is from the setting where Thrushcross Grange is depicted as good due to its serenity and tranquility while Wuthering Heights is seen as evil because of its wild and stormy weather. Moreover, the good and evil in humanity are outlined through characters like Catherine and Heathcliff. Catherine is good on seen from her calm nature and acts of kindness contrary to the evil Heathcliff who is a terror to the community due to his violent and abusive conduct in his quest for revenge. Also, the author has incorporated supernatural occurrences in the novel. Catherine appears as a ghost initially and Mr. Lockwood and finally to Heathcliff. Despite the appearance of ghosts seen as wrong and unnatural, Catherine’s ghost positively impacts the ending of the story. Heathcliff reunites with his love and follows her to the grave, thereby enabling the rest of the community to continue with their daily activities without the terror and violence that Heathcliff caused.

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A Theme of Good and Evil in “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brontë. (2023, March 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 29, 2023, from
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