With its Gothic-inspired plot, ghostly overtones and revenge-fueled love triangle, it’s no wonder that Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights” has remained an essential piece of the British literature canon for more than 150 years. The novel’s intricate themes and complex characters also make it ripe for literary analysis. If you’ve been assigned an essay on “Wuthering Heights,” the novel’s supernatural elements, convoluted character dynamics and focus on social class are all provocative topic choices.
Ghosts and Ghouls
Whether you focus on “Wuthering Heights” itself or the characters that inhabit it, supernatural elements permeate the novel. Your essay could analyze symbolism of the dark and stormy gothic atmosphere present in the novel, including the ancient mansion, which is set on the dark, eerie Yorkshire moors. You could also focus on the character-driven supernatural plot developments, such as the impact of Catherine’s ghost on the story; the devilish qualities of the novel’s villain, Heathcliff; and whether the ghostly nuances have logical, rather than supernatural, explanations.
Settling of Scores
As a key plot element, revenge drives much of the action present in the story. Heathcliff, for example, is a revenge-fueled character, and he essentially spends much of his time trying to avenge the wrongs he feels he suffered at the hand of his adoptive brother Hindley, as well as his rival in love, Edgar. Hindley then takes revenge on Heathcliff for taking his place at the mansion and for denying him an education. Whether you focus on how revenge motivates Heathcliff as a character or on revenge as an overarching theme, this topic will give you the opportunity to analyze the self-centered intricacies of character interactions in the novel.
Class structure plays a significant role in “Wuthering Heights” and would make an excellent topic for discussion. For instance, property ownership, education and family name are the determining factors in how Catherine chooses Edgar Linton over Heathcliff, insisting, for example, that if she married Heathcliff, they would be destitute. Heathcliff is an orphan with no family connections, which, according to Catherine, equates his social status to that of a beggar. Likewise, Heathcliff knows that an education can make the difference between a life as a property owner and a life as a servant, so he denies both Hindley and Hareton access to a formal education. You could analyze the impact of social class as a whole or analyze how one singular component, such as education, affects the outcome of the plot.
What's Love Got to Do With It?
At first sight, romance seems like an obvious topic for a “Wuthering Heights” essay; after all, the love-hate relationship between Catherine and Heathcliff provides more than enough fodder for a thematic analysis. However, if you dig a little deeper, you will find many styles of romantic love present in the novel, aside from the tumultuous relationship shared by the principal characters. For an essay on love in “Wuthering Heights,” you could also focus on Catherine’s relationship with Edgar, the dynamic between Hindley and Frances, or the developing love between the young Catherine and Hareton.