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Literary Criticism Summary

According to the editor Currer Bell, the novel Wuthering Heights may seem rather

crude and unintelligible to those who know nothing of the author. Strangers who are

unacquainted with the setting where the story takes place, or who are unfamiliar with the customs

of the time may also look at Wuthering Heights with a critical eye. “To all such Wuthering

Heights must appear a rude and strange production” (Bell 5).

Readers may feel that the manners, language, and the very dwellings of the characters

are somewhat “repulsive” (Bell 5). People who are perhaps calm and collected will “have no idea

what to make of the rough, strong utterance, the harshly manifested passions, the unbridled

aversions, and headlong partialities” (Bell 5). Many people have been taught carefully to observe

the evenness of language and manner, and it is these people whom the roughness will shock .

The entire novel is regarded for its rusticity. “It is moorish, and wild, and knotty as the

root of heath” (Bell 5). However, Currer Bell insists that this is exactly the way the novel should

be. The author was a product of these wild and rustic moors, and it is quite natural that she writes

about what she lived in. “Her descriptions, then, if natural scenery, are what they should be, and

all that they should be” (Bell 6).

The author herself was not a very social person. She looked upon most

people with benevolence, but there were very few instances where she interacted with them on a


personal level. However, this did not stop her from accurately identifying the ways, language, and

family history of most people. “She could hear of them with interest, and talk of them with detail,

minute, graphic,and accurate; but with them she barely exchanged a word” (Bell 6-7). Her

imagination was dismal yet powerful.

Still, there are certain examples in Wuthering Heights that bring a sort of brightness to

the other dreary aspects of the novel. The character of Nelly Dean is an example of tenderness

and compassion. In the character of Edgar Linton one can see a sense of constancy and

thoughtfulness. Also, “some glimpses of grace and gaiety animate the younger

Catherine” (Bell 8). Even the first Catherine possesses strange sort of beauty in the midst of all

her intense passion.

Heathcliff possesses only one characteristic that shows he is in fact human. It is not his

love for Catherine, which is wild and fierce, but it is his, “rudely confessed regard for Hareton

Earnshaw- the young man whom he has ruined; and his half -implied esteem for Nelly Dean”

(Bell 8). If it weren’t for these mere examples, we would look upon Heathcliff as a child purely of


Wuthering Heights was a novel formed out of poor materials with simple tools, yet it

reflects an amazing sense of power. There was no model for it except the visions of the

author’s mind. It took time and effort, but the novel took on a human form and there it stands

dark and mighty, radiating a sense of strength and charm.

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