In Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, numerous references are made to different conditions of weather. Even the title of the novel suggests the storminess present in nearly the entire book. The often-changing weather serves to signify the characters’ personalities, as well as the changes that they go through during the course of their lives.
In fact, the first incidence of a reference being made to the weather occurs with a thought of Mr. Lockwood. “Wuthering being a significant provincial adjective,” he says, “descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather” (46). Because Wuthering Heights has been built on the moors, wind blows fiercely during storms. At this point, Lockwood knows little about Heathcliff, but the significance of the house’s name will become more apparent to him later in the novel.
After getting settled into his new house at Thrushcross Grange, Lockwood decides to pay a visit to Heathcliff. He arrives at the house just as snow is starting to fall and observes the yard. “On that bleak hilltop,” he notes, “the earth was hard with a black frost, and the air made me shiver through every limb” (51). While it was cold at his own house, it seems even colder here, and the weather is beginning to get worse. It isn’t even until he is at the gate of Wuthering Heights that the snow starts to fall.
As will later be shown, the earth at Wuthering Heights is as cold and hard as Heathcliff’s heart. He provides Lockwood with little food or comforts at his arrival and does not attempt to be a gracious host. It is only with a great deal of gruffness that he decides to allow Lockwood to spend the night at his house until he can go home the next morning. This is one of the first indications of Heathcliff’s lack of compassion for the rest of humanity.
The next day, Heathcliff offers to accompany Lockwood on his way back home, explaining that he will not be able to find the way on his own. While Lockwood thought he would be able to find his way home based on rocks sticking up along the path, he finds the hills to be “one billowy, white ocean; the swells and falls...blotted out from the chart which my yesterday’s walk left pictured in my mind” (72-3).
The long, winding path nearest to Wuthering Heights is much harder...
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...ld not make him a better person than he always had been. He died that night with a “frightful, life-like gaze of exultation...and his parted lips, and sharp white teeth sneered too” (365). It is difficult to know what Heathcliff was thinking in his final moments. While her death was surrounded by sunshine, he died during a night of merciless rain. Despite her fits of temper and selfishness, Catherine was always a warm-hearted person deep down, as shown by the way she would stay to console people after hurting their feelings when she was a child. But Heathcliff’s only expression of any compassion was toward Catherine; otherwise, he was as cold as the rain that soaked his lifeless corpse. The weather present at his death served as a fitting end to his tortured life.
Emily Bronte makes good use of the weather in important parts of Wuthering Heights. The climates allow the reader insight into the minds, personalities, and situations of the characters, who are as complex as the settings in which they find themselves. Snow in the beginning of autumn is not surprising in a book where love is found, lost, and found again, sometimes in another person and sometimes in death.
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