The Implications of the Title "Wuthering Heights"

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It is a question that has baffled readers and critics alike through generations, a question that can be endlessly pondered upon and debated over, as to why Emily Bronte chose to name her first and only novel, after the house in which a sizable part of the action chronicled takes place, despite being armed with characters of such extra-ordinary strength and passion as Heathcliff or Catherine. But on close scrutiny, a reader can perhaps discern the reason behind her choice, the fact that Wuthering Heights is at once a motif, a setting and according to a few critics, even a ‘premonitory indication’ of the tempestuous nature of things soon to occur. ‘Wuthering Heights’, although having survived the test of time as a work that is poignant and passionate, and eminently capable of holding the reader’s attention, received mixed criticism upon publication in 1847 under the pseudonym Ellis Bell. Apparently, the vivid description of mental and physical violence and agony was hard to stomach, and the atmosphere was too oppressive to merit popular liking. But many later readers and critics have given ‘Wuthering Heights’ the mantle of being the best of the works of the Bronte sisters, displacing Charlotte’s ‘Jane Eyre’. One of its prime merits, at least to my eyes, lies in Emily’s ability to make Nature an eloquent party to the story-corresponding closely with a character’s emotions, with the incidents, with the movement of the plot, and thus adding to the quality of the story. Emily was born in Thornton, Yorkshire, and her love for the landscape that she grew up with is reflected in the novel in the moors and the crags, the storms and the spring. One can see an extension of this one-ness with nature, this unity, in her choice of Wuthering Hei... ... middle of paper ... ...e. On a very simplistic level, it is attractive, the name ‘Wuthering Heights’ sounds to the ear a more mysterious and enigmatic choice than Thrushcross Grange. But it can be assumed that the author had made the choice of naming the novel based on reasons that run deeper than mere attractiveness. The setting is vital to the plot, and as Wuthering Heights and its presence directly or indirectly precipitates a major part of the action, the choice is an apt one. In conclusion,the characters’ relation with Nature runs deep, and this too has been highlighted forcefully by the title, that keeps reminding the reader that in ‘Wuthering Heights’, the setting is the thread that runs through the entire narrative holding it together, and halfway through the novel, we can almost perceptibly feel the throb of Nature that is alive, that is at work, and that has a will of its own.

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