We are presented with the dichotomy of nature and culture, primitivism and civilization. Wuthering Heights is symbolic of nature, unrefined and raw; Thrushcross Grange is symbolic of sophistication and culture. The abundance of animal imagery in the portrayal of the Heights compounds our sense of its baseness. This also underlines the parallel between Heathcliff and the devil, with implications for the depiction of religion in the novel as a whole.

The inhabitants resemble their homes, and contact with ‘opposite’ natures results in antagonism and conflict. Only like natures are deemed to be compatible, in that the union satisfies spiritually and emotionally. The love of Cathy and Heathcliff is superior to Cathy and Edgar’s, then, because Cathy and Heathcliff’s natures are the same. Cathy expresses this in Volume 1, Chapter 9, and Dorothy Van Ghent elaborates upon this in her work on the notion of ‘otherness’ in The English Novel, Form and Function. She argues that the windows and doors are used by Bronte to separate and connect polar opposites. However, the boundaries are perpetually transgressed, so the presence of any barrier immediately establishes tension. Control over others is exercised in locking others in or out, but such attempts are always undermined.

At the beginning of Wuthering Heights, Lockwood declares himself to be cultured and refined and is held up as the archetypal Victorian gentleman. It has been suggested, then, that Bronte is criticizing Victorian values. His attitude towards love and infantile reaction in the face of reciprocation is paltry in comparison with Heathcliff’s unashamed displays of emotion. Nature is also used to account for the innate violence of the inhabitants at the Heights. Believing that it is an intrinsic part of Heathcliff and Cathy accommodates the display of love and hate shown by them both, undermining in turn the idea that these emotions are paradoxical. However, the imagery surrounding the courtship of Catherine and Hareton suggests that Bronte is showing how such violence must be moderated in order for lasting happiness to be achieved. A compromise between the unrefined Wuthering Heights and the refined Thrushcross Grange must be sought.

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