Foreshadowing is a frequent literary technique seen in classic fiction. It instills a feeling of what may come and a link from the present to the past and vice versa. Wuthering Heights as a whole provides a large-scale example of this foreshadowing effect, as well as numerous other cases.
The novel's opening sentences, as Lockwood reflects on his first visit to Wuthering Heights and meeting Heathcliff, are packed with foreshadowing:
“I have just returned from a visit to my landlord — the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with. This is certainly a beautiful country! In all England, I do not believe that I could have fixed on a situation so completely removed from the stir of society. A perfect misanthropist’s Heaven — and Mr Heathcliff and I are such a suitable pair to divide the desolation between us. A capital fellow!”
In the initial chapters, Lockwood is confused by the strange inhabitants of Wuthering Heights. The clues he picks up foreshadow plotlines which will later be revealed, drawing the reader into the tale. For example, when Heathcliff explains that Cathy Linton is his daughter-in-law, Lockwood notices he sends “a particular look in her direction, a look of hatred.” This expression on Heathcliff’s face foreshadows the revelation of his embittered past, particularly the marriage between Catherine Earnshaw and Edgar Linton.
When Lockwood spends the night at Wuthering Heights, he notices how a window ledge has “writing scratched in the paint… a name repeated in all kinds of characters.” The re variations on Cathy’s name with different surnames (Earnshaw, Heathcliff, and Linton) foreshadows how Cathy’s life will be unhappy because she is torn between different identities and different men. She will also become a pawn in male power struggles and class conflict when she is just trying to make a happy life for herself. Thus, the childish writing of a girl trying on married names furthers an ominous tone and reflects how Cathy’s innocence will ultimately be lost.
After Lockwood experiences nightmares and ghostly visions while sleeping in an oak-paneled bed at Wuthering Heights, he goes to sleep in another room. He looks back and sees that Heathcliff has “got on to the bed and wrenched open the lattice.” Heathcliff also begs Cathy to come back to him one more time. This action foreshadows how, at the end of the novel, Heathcliff will be found dead on the same bed with the window wide open. His calling to Cathy during this time also hints at his desperate desire to be spiritually reunited with his beloved in the afterlife.
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