Role of Windows and Doors in Wuthering Heights

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The 1847 Victorian novel Wuthering Heights by Emily Bront at first did not receive proper appraise for its literary achievements and was considered by critics to be only, ?mere glimpses of hidden morals or secondary meanings. Though the critics displayed dismay, the reading population proved the novel to be one of the greatest pieces of Victorian literature. The characters in the novel are entangled in passionate and familial relationships that inhibit violence. Throughout Wuthering Heights, Bronte uses the symbolism of windows, doors, and gates to mark the threshold between the polarity of life and death and place both literal and figurative barriers between characters. These literary devices both contribute to the gothic theme by illuminating violence and the idea of the supernatural.

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Windows, doors, and other barriers in Wuthering Heights serve to separate the characters from supernatural forces. Bront uses the supernatural and the idea of death to heighten the gothic aspects and create a sense of fear in the reader. When Lockwood first arrives at Wuthering Heights, he dreams about the ghost of the late Catherine Linton through the window in his room. Lockwood breaks the window and severs the divide between life and death. He sees the ghost and upon hearing its voice, he, discerned, obscurely, a childs face looking through the window and says, Terror made me cruel: and, finding it useless to attempt shaking the creature off, I pulled its wrist on to the broken pane, and rubbed it to and fro till the blood ran down and soaked the bed-clothes (Bront 21). The imagery with the ?blood soaked sheets suggests that there is a disruption in the natural order of things. The bed is not just a bit bloody, it is ?soaked with blood. The mention of a ?creature also suggests that there is a supernatural force beyond the window which embodies the gothic theme. Heathcliff, desperate to see his love again whether real or supernatural, begs for Catherine to haunt him, Cathy, do come. Oh do- Once more! Oh! My hearts darling, hear me this time- Catherine at last! (23). The assonance of the ?o in this line heightens the idea of the supernatural force that pushes Heathcliff into a passionate rampage. It leads the reader to determine whether Heathcliffs powerful love for Catherine is an emotion of sanity or insanity. He begs for Cathy to, Be with me always – take any form – drive me mad! (130). He begs her to ?drive him mad and also says to ?take any form suggesting that he is willing to give up his sanity if it means that Heathcliff will be able to feel her presence. This contributes to the gothic theme through the symbolism of the window in which Catherines ghost appears, the bloody imagery, and the idea of insanity and desire for love.

Windows and doors keep the characters in the novel entrapped within the two houses which hinders them from being able to reach the people or places they desire. When Catherine Earnshaw is taken in by the Lintons, she becomes trapped within the doors of Thrushcross Grange where Heathcliff cannot reach her. Heathcliff reveals his protective nature over Catherine when he pronounces that he, intended shattering their great glass panes to a million fragments unless they let her out (40). The imagery when he shatters the glass into a ?million fragments heightens his despondency over the fact that Catherine is not with him anymore. Instead of only shattering the glass, he intends to shatter it into a million pieces if it meant he could be with her again. The windows of Thrushcross Grange keep the two separated for five weeks and also contribute to Heathcliffs downfall as a character. The windows of Wuthering Heights also separate Heathcliff and Catherine when she becomes ill. Catherine asks Nelly to open the window in her room. When Nelly denied her request, Catherine, increased her feverish bewilderment to madness, and tore the pillow with her teeth (95). Catherines violent manner even as she lays on her death bed symbolizes the gothic aspect of the novel. The ideas of ?madness and ?bewilderment used to describe Cathys actions reflect the instabilities of Heathcliff, suggesting that the two have a connection that goes beyond what is seen by the reader and the window in her room separates her from the moors, which reminds her of Heathcliff because they ran away together to the moors. She wants the window open so that she feels a connection to him and the moors so when Nelly refuses, Catherine throws a passionate tantrum revealing her love for Heathcliff. Lastly, windows also serve as a form of entrapment when young Catherine Linton attempts to escape Wuthering Heights to see her dying father, Edgar. Catherine tries to find any route of escaping, but the windows were too narrow for even Cathys little figure (207). The window separates Catherine from seeing her father one last time before he dies and presents a barrier between Wuthering Heights and the outside world. Catherine desires to see her father and the windows are literary barriers that prevent her from doing so.

The death of characters in the novel coincides with the symbolism of windows and doors. These barriers are the threshold between life and death and are present when Heathcliff digs up Catherines grave and when Heathcliff dies. Heathcliff, got the sexton, who was digging Lintons grave, to remove the earth off her coffin lid (220) and continued to open her casket and get into it with her. The imagery in this scene is very gothic because Heathcliff disturbs the dead by opening the door of her casket. He tries to break the barrier between life and death through the opening of the casket. Heathcliff argues that he, disturbed nobody and I gave some ease to myself. I shall be a great deal more comfortable now; and youll have a better chance of keeping me underground, when I get there. Disturbed her? No! She has disturbed me, night and day through 18 years (220). He thinks that now that he has seen her dead body, he will no longer allow himself to be haunted by her. He feels the presence of the ghost of Catherine in his life for eighteen years after she is gone. After he opens the casket, he severs the literal and figurative divide between life and death. Lastly, after Heathcliff dies, Nelly, tried to close his eyes- to extinguish, if possible, that frightful, life-like gaze of exultation, before anyone else beheld it (256), but his eyes would not shut. Though he is dead, the ?life-like gaze within his eyes reveals that Heathcliffs soul may be living while his body is resting with Catherines. The polarity of life and death in Wuthering Heights proves to have an obscure quality to it that blurs the two together with symbolism of the ghosts, death, and doors and windows.

The gothic aspects of Bronts novel inspired readers to look deeper into the originality of the literature and the settings effects on the characters intemperate passion. Though the disparity between life and death is blurred among the openings of windows and doors, the thresholds of love are never broken through life nor death. Catherine and Heathcliff share their infinite love for one another through their time living and beyond their deaths. Though at first critics disapproved, the novel proved to be one of the most preeminent novels of the Victorian era.

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Role of Windows and Doors in Wuthering Heights. (2019, May 16). Retrieved November 28, 2022 , from

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