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Good vs. Evil has become the central theme for hundreds of different stories throughout history and for this; its interpretation has become one of the most controversial themes in literature. The interpretation of Good vs. Evil has long been debated between a literal meaning of a battle between individuals or their ideologies or an inner battle between oneself and their ideologies. It is in Wuthering Heights though that Emily Bronte explores the context of Good vs. Evil not as a struggle between one another or oneself but rather as a battle between “storm” and “calm“, and the effect the story’s setting has on individuals and their development. The largest contrast taking place in the novel between the two houses that are the homes to most characters in the novel, Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights with Thrushcross Grange as a representative of heaven, light and peace (Good), and Wuthering Heights more suggestive of hell, dark and jealousy(Evil). This is where Bronte is most interested in developing the contrasting feelings for her characters through the placement of two distinct setting as their institution. Bronte thus uses the novel’s setting to further develop the characters into the theme of Good vs. Evil.
Wuthering Heights, and its surroundings, depict the cold, dark, and evil side of life coming to symbolize anger, hatred, and darkness. As shown by the name alone, there is a lot of tension within the house, Wuthering being “descriptive of the atmospheric tumult”(7). The Heights mirrors the conditions of its inhabitants, especially Heathcliff. Becoming “barren, its firs stunted, everything seems to crave for the ‘alms of the sun’ that sustain life.”(5), the stunted plants reflect the inability of anything to flourish or grow normally, just as the characters find it difficult to fulfill their own strong passions, and seek support from outside sources to realize their deepest needs. The Earnshaw children grew up in a world “where human beings, like the trees, grow gnarled and dwarfed and distorted by the inclement climate”(6). Emily Bronte gives the house human characteristics with the use of personification giving the impression of a defensive, unwelcoming environment, just as the protagonists themselves can also been seen as harsh and defensive.
“Both of us were able to look in by standing on the basement, and clinging on the ledge, and we saw — ah! it was beautiful”(45). The exuberant description by both Heathcliff and Catherine shows a warm, wealthy household in complete contrast to that of the Wuthering Heights, just as the characters themselves are more composed and cultured compared to the almost “savage” inhabitants of Wuthering Heights. Though seen further in the novel this cultured, supposedly luxurious background unravels and once the cover of this polished look is removed we can see the true nature of the estate. The shallowness that emerges just as Catherine matures with the grounds as she is restricted by her injury to a couch at Thrushcross Grange; completing womanhood at the estate and her choice of husband confine her to the propriety of The Grange rather than with her true nature of love, Heathcliff. Meaning, given the choice Catherine chooses a higher social status or the “true love” to Heathcliff, due to her pubescent years and days spent at Thrushcross Grange and not Wuthering Heights.
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Emily Bronte uses the setting of Wuthering Heights to extend how novel uses contrasting characters to support the theme of Good vs. Evil. It is not just the homes alone that contrast but more importantly the individuals that emerge from each place mirror that of its setting. The “stunted plants” reflect that of the underdevelopment of the Earnshaw children in the essence of composure. Just as the plants need outside resources like water and sun as a way to reach a healthy state, as does Heathcliff needs additional sources, Catherine’s hand in marriage or later revenge on all those that have wronged him, to once again continue growth until reaching a normalcy. In complete contrast to the “sadism” that comes from Wuthering Heights, Edgar as a child of the Linton family matures and grows to become an individual much more “elegant and cultured” (10). Just as the characteristics if Wuthering Heights mirror that of its people, Thrushcross Grange does as well as it is described as filled with light and warmth. Unlike Wuthering Heights, it is “elegant and comfortable-a splendid place carpeted with crimson, and crimson covered chairs and tables, and a pure white ceiling bordered by gold.”(10), reflecting that of Edgar Linton who is very gentle, polite, and well mannered. The connection here is continued even when the homes switch roles, Heathcliff’s new found funding help him develop and grow both mentally and physically as upon his arrival he was mistaken as a “gentleman” by Isabella. The same occurs in The Grange, at the time of Catherine’s injury, she becomes dependent on others for advancement, comparable to the “stunted” plants in The Heights being dependent on other resources. Two main settings of the novel, are constantly being put into contrast. From the beginning of the story the reader is presented with these two opposite places and slowly sees how the “storm” of Wuthering Heights takes over the “calm” of the Grange. The novel is based on this contrast between the two houses. The storm of Wuthering Heights, upon the return of Heathcliff from his departure, starts to take over. In the end, however, the calm of Thrushcross Grange prevails and Good defeats Evil.
In the novel by Emile Bronte, Wuthering Heights, a strong contrast exist between storm and calm. Wuthering Heights and Thrusscross Grange, illustrate this concept, as they are double opposites in the story. The physical characteristics of the two places and the people that reside there are the driving forces for this opposition. The name of the residence, Wuthering Heights, in itself shows us how this storm is illustrated. Wuthering Heights is a dwelling characterized by fiery emotions, primal passions, resentful vengefulness, and sheer evil. Thrushcross Grange is a peaceful, beautiful home which symbolizes all that is good and lovely. Emily Bronte includes these two places in the novel to create a contrast which furthers the overall theme of Good vs. Evil.
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