How Is Foreshadowing Used in Wuthering Heights?

Emily Brontë uses foreshadowing to hint at future events and add to the mystery in her novel. However, since the narrative is nonlinear, some predicted events have already happened. Lockwood, the narrator, is uncertain about the relationships between the characters and their roles in the story. He mistakes Hareton for Heathcliff’s son and Cathy for his wife. Brontë hints at the complexity of the relationships through Lockwood’s confusion.

The weather changes in the novel foreshadow turning points. Stormy weather precedes significant events such as old Earnshaw’s death and Isabella’s escape from Wuthering Heights. A storm makes Lockwood stay at Wuthering Heights, setting the stage for the conflict. Lockwood finds many writings on the wall of his bedroom, including the name “Catherine” combined with different surnames. This foreshadows elder Catherine’s story, who fell in love with Heathcliff and had to marry Linton. Lockwood has nightmares and sees Catherine’s ghost trying to enter his room, which hints at the supernatural elements in the story.

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Nelly tells Lockwood about the childhood of Heathcliff and Catherine, which foreshadows their later attitudes towards others. The way everyone treats Heathcliff as a child predicts his behavior towards his kin later in life. Isabella’s desire to lock him up in the cellar foreshadows his future violent behavior towards her. Heathcliff’s hatred for the Lintons makes him treat Cathy, his daughter-in-law, in a similar manner. The mistreatment of characters foreshadows the theme of revenge that pervades the novel.

Heathcliff’s violent behavior towards Isabella’s dog foreshadows his future behavior towards her. Catherine predicts her future as a ghost haunting Wuthering Heights’ tenants. She also foreshadows Heathcliff’s obsession with her grave. Heathcliff bribes a sexton to put their bodies together when he dies. After Heathcliff’s death, locals start seeing two ghosts walking together, which hints at the possibility of a supernatural ending to the story.

In summary, Emily Brontë uses foreshadowing throughout the novel to hint at future events and add to the mystery. The nonlinear narrative structure adds to the complexity of the relationships between characters, making foreshadowing an essential device for the reader to understand the story. The weather changes, Lockwood’s nightmares, and the mistreatment of characters are some of the ways Brontë uses foreshadowing. The novel ends with the possibility of a supernatural element, leaving the reader to ponder the true nature of the story.


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