1. Why did Charlotte Bronte feel the need to write a second preface? On what grounds had reviewers criticized Emily’s work? (anonymous, unfeminine, immoral)What explanations of her sister’s life are needed? (explanation of her solitary, unsophisticated existence) What had been reviewers' responses to the sisters' efforts?
2. In her earlier preface, what does Charlotte Bronte seem to believe about her sister's character? (fiercely independent, high-minded) Her book? (a work of inspired, irresistible genius) What features does she feel the need to explain, and on what grounds? (character of Heathcliff)
3. What features of the novel does she admire? Would Emily have agreed with her characterizations of Nelly Dean and Heathcliff?
4. What may have prompted Emily Brontë to choose Mr. Lockwood as her first narrator? How is his temperament suited to inspire the reader's trust? What do we learn of his tastes and thoughts? His past behavior? (forms a contrast with the unconventional and malicious inhabitants of Wuthering Heights; like the reader, he views them from the outside)
5. Do any of the novel’s names carry associations?--e. g., Heathcliff or Wuthering Heights? Is it significant that the former bears no “Christian” name? What do you make of such names as Joseph and Zillow?
6. How does the isolation and location of the novel's northern Yorkshire setting influence the tone and events of the story? Are there symbolic elements to the descriptions of the houses and their landscapes? (e. g., guns)
7. What are some striking features of Lockwood's first encounter with the Heathcliff/Wuthering Heights family? Who is living there, and what forms of rudeness
does each display? What unusual forms of behavior does he witness? Do they seem attached to one another?
8. What are advantages to the choice of Nelly Dean as the narrator of much of the family’s background? What are some of the ways in which she herself has been a participant in the tale?
9. To what extent is Nelly Dean a reliable narrator? A believable narrator? How does she judge some of her own past actions? At this early point in the tale, which behaviors of her employers does she favor? Does she seem fair-minded? Conventionally-minded?
10. What sequence of events causes Lockwood to be placed in Catherine Earnshaw Linton’s bedchamber? What are some important elements of the scene in the old bedchamber--for example, what seems the significance of the names scrawled on the windowpane? The dream in which Lockwood shatters the windowpane?
11. In what form does Catherine's voice enter the story? (enters through her diary--a story within a story within a story, and thus deeply true at a psychological level) What incidents and thoughts does the child-Catherine describe?
12. What seems the significance of the repeated forms of violence manifested by the characters?
13. What are some unusual structural features of the novel--its frames, multiple narrators, time gaps, and dreams? In these regards, does it remind you of other novels you have read?
14. Under what circumstances does Lockwood first notice that Heathcliff has shed a tear? Is this surprising, given his earlier behavior? What may have caused his pain?
15. How does the novel present religion? (chiefly used for purposes of repression and judgment; many references to the devil and witchcraft suggest evil rather than benign forces)
16. What purpose is served by the character of Joseph? What is significant about his social class and language? (speaks in Yorkshire dialect; in life the middle-class characters would also have had a regionally-inflected speech, if not as extreme a one, but their speech has been normalized, as was the custom.
17. What do Cathy and Hindley each desire that their father bring them from town? Are these choices symbolic? (a whip, a violin)
18. Why do you think Mr. Earnshaw brought home Heathcliff to his family? What does the novel indicate about Heathcliff's origins? (an orphan found in streets of Liverpool)
19. Do you think his account is credible? What alternate explanations could be suggested? Could Heathcliff could be an illegitimate child?
20. How do the other family members respond to him? (Hindley marginalizes him; Nelly mistreats him) How can you explain the negative reactions of others to him?
21. What do you make of the fact that he is often referred to as a "gypsy," and described as dark? Why isn’t he given a second name?
22. How does Nelly characterize Heathcliff’s life? (a “cuckoo’s story,” 37) What does this mean?
23. How does Nelly later explain her behavior to Heathcliff? Does she later change? Does she feel regret at her previous behavior?
24. What do we learn about Catherine’s childhood? How does she behave toward others? Who becomes her chief companion, and what do you think prompts this?
25. What events follow Mrs. Earnshaw’s death? (her husband dies soon after) How does the family’s life change after Mr. Earnshaw’s death soon afterwards? (Hindley marries a woman described as frail and frivolous)
26. How does the new Mrs. Earnshaw (Hindley’s wife) behave toward Heathcliff, and with what consequences? (deprived of education, forced to be a menial)
27. Under what circumstances does Catherine first visit Thrushcross Grange? Why isn’t Heathcliff permitted to enter with her? How do the Linton and Earnshaw young people respond to one another during their first visit?
28. What incident confirms the hostility between Heathcliff and Edgar? Who is more responsible? (Edgar first insults him; Heathcliff is first to be violent)
29. What does Heathcliff confide in Nelly that he regrets? What factors have caused Heathcliff's degredation? Does the novel imply that these could have been remedied? When he complains to Nelly, does she give him good advice?
30. Why do you think the author presents Lockwood’s praise of Nelly’s reading habits? (confirms her intelligence and reliability as narrator; literacy a class marker)
31. What fate is suffered by Frances Earnshaw? (dies in childbirth, giving birth to Hareton) Does this event seem consistent with other events in the novel? (outsiders don’t seem to thrive at Wuthering Heights) Do women seem to flourish in its atmosphere?
32. What are some consequences of her death? (Hindley degenerates into alcoholism and violence)
33. How does Catherine behave during a visit from Edgar? (pinches Nelly, strikes Edgar) What do you make of these responses?
34. How does Edgar react? (forgives her) Are these events symbolic? (union begins with violence) Does the reader expect that this will be a happy union?
35. How does Hindley behave to his son Hareton? Had his father behaved in this way toward him? (no)
36. What sequence of events causes Heathcliff to leave Wuthering Heights? (Catherine’s lack of regard; he overhears her statement that to marry him would degrade her) What natural event occurs on his departure? (fall of a great tree)
37. What are Heathcliff's feelings toward Catherine, and to what extent are they reciprocated?
38. What does Catherine tell Nelly are her reactions to the thought of marriage to Edgar? Why does she intend to accept his proposal? Does she intend to separate from Heathcliff after her marriage? (assumes he will not leave her or marry) Does this seem realistic?
39. How does Nelly respond to Catherine’s confession? (impatient)
40. According to her speech to Nelly, what are her emotions toward Heathcliff? (“I am Heathcliff”) How would you interpret her speech in Freudian terms--does she feel love? Sisterhood? Possessiveness? Obsession?
41. How does Catherine respond to the news of Heathcliff’s departure? (falls sick) What sad event occurs when Catherine is taken to Thrushcross Grange to recuperate? (Mrs. Linton catches sick and dies) Does this outcome seem symbolic?
42. How does the novel treat themes of parenting and motherhood? (mothers seem weak and absent, fathers arbitrary and violent) Are there good parents in the novel? Which characters suffer from childhood neglect? What consequences follow harsh and arbitrary child-rearing practices?
43. Why does Nelly move to Thrushcross Grange with Catherine? (Catherine wishes it) Is it surprising that Catherine wishes her company? How do you explain her preference for a servant who doesn’t approve of her actions?
44. What changes have occurred to Heathcliff during his absence from Wuthering Heights? Are there explanations for these? What seems to have been his motives for returning to Wuthering Heights?
45. What events and quarrels are precipitated by his return? What forms of disagreement do Catherine and Edgar have? Do you find one or the other more reasonable?
46. How does Catherine behave toward Heathcliff on their meeting? Is it significant that her expressions of attachment occur in the parlor of Thrushcross Grange?
47. What is Edgar’s attitude toward his wife, and what does he desire of Nelly? (protective; doesn’t wish her to be crossed)
48. Under what circumstances does Hindley lose his fortune? (loses to Hareton in gambling; gambling losses are a common motif in novels of the period)
49. How has Catherine interfered in Isabella’s life, and from what motives? How does she characterize Heathcliff to Isabella? Are these her real views, and if so, what do they reveal about her view of their relationship?
50. What precipitates a fight between Edgar and Heathcliff? (suggestion that Heathcliff might marry Isabella)
51. What events precede Catherine’s sickness? To what extent are her illnesses psychological or physical in origin? In particular, what precipitates her death? (childbirth)
52. How do Nelly’s communications (or lack thereof) influence Edgar and Catherine’s behavior during her sickness?
53. What symbolism is associated with an empty mirror?
54. Does the novel provide a motivation for Isabella’s elopement with Heathcliff? Has he behaved well toward her? Is the timing of her departure significant? (doesn’t care about her brother’s opinion or her sister-in-law’s death)
55. What are some financial implications of Isabella’s marriage? (if Catherine and Edgar do not have a son, any son of hers will inherit Thrushcross Grange)
56. What news does she send of her married life? (husband is cruel to her)
57. When Heathcliff asks to visit the dying Catherine, how does Nelly respond? (permits this) Would such an interview be expected? What reason does Nelly give, and is this plausible?
58. What occurs during Catherine and Heathcliff’s final interview? (they quarrel and embrace; she collapses and dies)
59. Where and how is Catherine buried? Is there symbolism to the placement of her grave? What do you make of the fact that Edgar doesn’t place her in the churchyard near a stone for himself or his or her families?
60. How is Heathcliff permitted access to Catherine’s corpse, and what final symbolic act does he commit? (places his hair in her locket and removes that of Edgar)
61. When Isabella visits the Grange after escaping from her husband, what account does she give of her husband’s behavior? In particular, what final violent scene does she relate? (Heathcliff has nearly killed Hindley, thrown her and Joseph on the floor, and hurled a knife at her) Did he have reason for anger at Hindley? At his wife?
62. What has been his attitude toward Catherine’s memory? (prays to her)
63. What do we learn of Isabella’s behavior from this account?
64. How has Heathcliff behaved toward the unconscious Hindley? What do you make of the fact that Heathcliff weeps after this scene? (is mourning Catherine)
65. What prompts Heathcliff to hurl a knife at his wife? (she reminds him of Catherine’s death) What enables her to make her final escape? (Hindley attacks Heathcliff)
66. Where does Isabella go upon departure? (London) In the novel’s allegorical topography, does this make sense?
67. What changes are observable in Edgar’s behavior after his sister’s departure? (becomes a recluse)
68. Under what circumstances is Linton Heathcliff born? Are his early years well-favored? (described as ailing and peevish) Why does Heathcliff permit Isabella to raise their son? (threatens to assume control of him unless Edgar leaves him with Hareton)
69. How many years afterwards does Isabella live? (until her son is 12) In the meantime, what has happened to young Catherine? (is raised by her father Edgar and Nelly)
70. What fate overtakes Hindley, and under what circumstances? (dies prematurely at 27, though no one is able to prove that Heathcliff has hastened his death) What are some hints that his death has been unnatural? (even the unpleasant Joseph suspects him)
71. How does Heathcliff behave toward Hareton? (abuses him)
72. What traits of character does Hareton seem to manifest? (abuses animals, hangs puppies, surly)
73. Who does Edgar send to inquire about Hareton’s financial situation at Hindley’s death? (Nelly; he is unfit to concern himself with practical affairs) Would this have been a predictable choice? Why doesn’t he go himself?
74. What account does the lawyer give of Hareton’s inheritance? (mortgaged to Heathcliff) What might have motivated the lawyer to misrepresent the situation?
75. What threat does Heathcliff make when Nelly attempts to recover Hareton? (will demand control of Linton) What is Edgar’s response to this? (accedes)
76. When young Catherine visits Wuthering Heights shortly before Isabella’s death, how does she respond to Hareton? (dismisses him as a servant) Does this attitude echo any situation from the past?
77. How does Nelly describe Hareton? (has better qualities than his father--is there evidence for this?)
78. What factors limit Heathcliff’s potential abuse of Hareton? (the latter resists sturdily)
79. Under what circumstances is Catherine educated? (privately by her father)
80. Why does Nelly urge Cathy to conceal their visit to Wuthering Heights? Is this wise? Revealing? (she tells her that Edgar would dismiss her if he knew; she is aware that the visit would be a source of alarm)
81. What effect does the limited range of characters and locations have on this novel?
82. Where does Linton Heathcliff first reside after his mother’s death? Why haven’t his relatives anticipated the dangers this would cause? Who threatens to fetch him?
83. How does Nelly enable young Linton’s removal to Wuthering Heights? What does she tell him to induce him to accompany her cheerfully? (lies) What can be her motive? Does he wish to remain with his biological father?
84. When young Catherine visits Linton, what interests or attitudes do the two share?
85. What ensues when she and Nelly visit at Wuthering Heights? (they quarrel but she tries to comfort him)
86. What does Heathcliff explain to Nelly are his motives for raising Linton? (wishes his son to own Thrushcross Grange) Does it seem plausible that he would confide these motives to Nelly?
87. What account does Heathcliff give her of his relations with her father, and how does she respond? (Linton and I have no share in your quarrel)
88. What are his views of Hareton and his son respectively? (respects Hareton, dislikes his son)
89. How do the respective parents respond to their friendship and correspondence? (Nelly forces her to burn his letters) Does this seem spiteful?
90. How does Catherine respond to this? (grieves)
91. What inducements does Heathcliff use to encourage Catherine to return, and with what result? (reports that Linton is lonely and pines for her; Nelly agrees to accompany her)
92. What unusual circumstance permits the two young people to visit? (both Edgar and Nelly fall ill) Does it seem strange that Nelly fails to wonder where Catherine may be?
93. When Nelly recovers and learns of Catherine’s visits to Wuthering Heights, what crucial information does she fail to convey to Edgar? (an account of Linton Heathcliffe’s character and declining health)
94. What financial provision has Edgar made for his daughter? Has he made any effort to prepare her for a life of self-sufficiency? What will eventually happen to the money he has managed to save for her? (it will pass from Linton to Heathcliff)
95. As he nears death, what belated invitation does Edgar send, and how is it received? (Linton declines to visit, but a correspondence ensues)
96. When Catherine and Linton are permitted to meet outdoors, what strange behavior does Linton exhibit, and how does Catherine interpret this? (is frightened when she prepares to leave; clearly his father demands a successful courtship)
97. What is Heathcliff’s motive in desiring the marriage of Catherine and his son? (hopes for her property)
98. What violent means does he employ to obtain it? (locks Catherine and Nelly in house) What possible source of help do the two women apparently ignore? (Edgar’s servants are in the garden)
99. Over what do Linton and Catherine quarrel after their marriage? (he wishes to take her parents’ pictures from her) What is the fate of the pictures of her parents? (Heathcliff takes that of Catherine and crushes Edgar’s picture on the floor)
100. How does Heathcliff behave toward Catherine? (strikes her)
101. What plan does Edgar form for protecting his daughter’s financial interests, and what prevents its success? (lawyer delays, he dies)
102. What enables Catherine to visit her father before his death? (Linton abets her departure)
103. To whom has Linton left his property in his will? How do you explain his “choice”? What does Heathcliffe do upon assuming ownership of Thrushcross Grange? (bears off Catherine’s portrait)
104. What does he tell Nelly he has done to her grave? (opened the side so that he can be buried there)
105. After Linton’s death, who manifests friendliness toward Catherine, and how does she respond? (rejects Hareton’s advances and mocks his attempts to read)
106. What does Lockwood find changed after a six month’s absence? Who is now living at Wuthering Heights? (Nelly, Hareton, and Cathy) What is now the relationship of the young couple?
107. What events have occurred shortly before Heathcliff’s death? (tries to strike Cathy but is unable to complete the act) What does he tell Nelly are now his emotions? (has sense of Catherine’s presence; knows his death is imminent)
108. What seems his mood before death? What rites does he wish to forgo? (spends time in Catherine’s chamber, seems exhilarated, wishes no minister or religious rites) Are there proximate causes of his death which Nelly conceals? (has not eaten for four dates)
109. What future plans do the young couple make? (will marry on New Year’s Day and return to Thrushcross Grange) What symbolism is inherent in these plans? (a new beginning; will leave dark Wuthering Heights forever)
110. Does this ending provide catharsis and/or a sense of closure? Would you describe it as a happy ending? What final reflections on human attachment, love, violence, and hate does the novel suggest?
111. Do you find the characters of the novel consistent?
112. Is this a difficult novel? In what ways does it seem Victorian to you? Modern? To what extent are irony and reversal features of the plot?
113. What do you make of the novel's recurring scenes of violence? Which characters are violent, and what are their motives? Why don't others in their environment stop them?
114. To what extent is the novel organized around repeating patterns? Contrasts within these similarities?
115. How do assumptions about social class affect the relationship of characters to each other? Are members of all social classes given equal attention?
116. Which elements of the novel maintain reader interest and prompt suspense? Horror? Empathy?