Wuthering Heights – Setting

August 31, 2018 General Studies

Like the world of Transylvania, the Gothic setting in Wuthering Heights suggests a wild and primitive landscape unconstrained by Orthodox norms. The reader is first introduced to Wuthering Heights, the house and its surroundings, as it appears to the middle class, Mr. Lockwood, on a stormy night. Thus, Lockwood serves the same role and Jonathan Harker as he is the bridge between the world of 19th century normal realities and the primeval world of Wuthering Heights. Just as Mr. Harker characterizes his trip to Transylvania as a journey between two atmospheres, entering the “thunderous one”, Mr. Lockwood too is introduced to Wuthering Heights on a stormy night, a foreshadowing of the darkness to come. Mr. Lockwood has an arrangement to meet with his neighboring tenant, Mr. Heathcliff and after walking four miles in the snow, he reaches the Heights to find the gate closed. He stands “on that bleak hilltop [where] the earth was hard with a black frost, and the air made [him] shiver through every limb.” (WH-p.29) In fact, the word “Wuthering, being a significant provincial adjective, [is] descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed to stormy weather,” (WH-p.25) thus emphasizing the darkness and cruelty in nature. As in Dracula, the storm is a presence of sin and unnatural desires. After ejaculating that his “wretched inmates deserv[ed] perpetual isolation from [their] species of churlish inhospitality,” (WH-p.29) for leaving the gate locked during a storm, Mr. Lockwood is let inside, by a woman whom he thinks is Mrs. Heathcliff. His experience here within this Gothic house in quite unpleasant, paralleling Harker’s in the Count’s dark castle. While waiting for Heathcliff in silence he notices how the women “kept her eyes on [him], in a cool regardless manner, exceedingly embarrassing and disagreeable.” (WH-p.30) The arrival of Heathcliff “relieved” (WH-p.32) Mr. Lockwood momentarily, yet soon he became uneased by Heathcliff’s “tone in which the words said revealed a genuine bad nature.” (WH-p.32) Neither of the hostesses demonstrated much acknowledgment of their guests’ presence, so Mr. Lockwood “began to feel unmistakably out of place in that pleasant family circle [and] the dismal spiritual atmosphere overcame [him].” (WH-p.34) He becomes slowly submerged in a dark setting, in which he feels uncomfortable and even frightened, as Harker’s fears first “seem to have [been] dissipated” (D-p.19) by the Count’s hospitality, but then he finds himself “all in a sea of wonder” (D-p.19) and a “veritable prisoner”. (D-p.13) Like Jonathan, Lockwood seems to be a “prisoner” since he becomes stranded at Wuthering Heights by the snow storm. However, when Heathcliff refuses to allow Lockwood to stay the night, he runs outside into the snow storm attempting to go home. “It was so dark that [he] could not see the means of exit.” (WH-p.36) Attempting to stop Lockwood, Heathcliff set two dogs on him, and he us thrown to the ground. The means with which Heathcliff attempts to stop Lockwood is barbaric, suggesting that Mr. Lockwood is a prisoner in a jail attempting to escape. The presence of an animal in the Gothic setting parallels the experience of Mr. Harker during his time at the castle. The ferocious dogs attacking Mr. Lockwood invoke fear and thwarted Lockwood from leaving, just as the howling wolves threatened to destroy Jonathan’s life should he try to exit Castle Dracula. In a dizzy and faint state, Lockwood is taken to a room in which the master “never lets anybody lodge,” (WH-p.37) a fact which increases the Gothic suspense of the setting. Like Harker, Lockwood experiences a dream emerging and reflecting the dark setting. Harker’s dream manifests his Victorian repressions by “revealing the intensity of the emotion he generally denies or represses?but the specific nature of those emotions is also important.”28 In this first dream, Lockwood is trying to get home but Joseph, a servant of Wuthering Heights warns him he will not be able to get home without a pilgrim’s staff. He realizes that, instead, he and Joseph are going to a chapel to see Reverend Jabes Branderham’s sermon, because “either Joseph, the preacher, or I had committed the ‘First [sin] of the Seventy-First, and were to be publicly exposed and excommunicated.” (WH-p.40) This dream


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