Wuthering Heights, written by Emily Brontë, can be classified as a Romantic novel, because it contains many tenets of Romanticism. Romanticism was the initial literary reaction to changes in society caused by the industrial revolution: it was an attempt to organize the chaos of the clash between the agrarian and the industrial ways of life. Romanticism was developing in a time in which all of society’s rules, limits, and restraints on how each person should act where being questioned, tried, and twisted. Wuthering Heights is a Romantic novel which uses a tale of hopeless love to describe the clash of two cultures—Neo-Classicism and Romanticism.
One of the most significant tenets of Romanticism is the love of the past. The first instance in which the reader finds an intimate love of the past is when Nelly remarks how she wished Heathcliff had never been introduced to the family, because his presence at Wuthering Heights upsets the established order: "he bred dad feeling" (42). Another instance is when Heathcliff realizes that his one love, Catherine, has fallen in love with Edgar. He shows love of the past by pointing out to her how little time she has spent with him compared to the time she spends with Edgar. After Catherine’s death, both Heathcliff and Edgar wish her back even if they must return to fighting each other for her love. The Romantics had a love of the past, because it is stable and predictable: all possible scenarios have already happened.
Mr. Earnshaw’s act of taking care of Heathcliff contains many aspects of Romanticism. A key tenet in this act is Mr. Earnshaw’s will to enter into the mind of a child. Mr. Earnshaw tries to do this when he takes Heathcliff home. Mr. Earnshaw sees a humble child in need of help. He is not concerned with the constrains of society, which is another tenet of Romanticism, but rather the welfare of the child. Brontë gives Mr. Earnshaw’s benevolence relatively high moral value, also a trait common to Romantic works. Mr. Earnshaw cares for the child despite its dark appearance, because he believes in the instinctive goodness of humanity, which is also a characteristic of Romanticism. Mr. Earnshaw’s act of caring for Heathcliff is very Romantic, in that he throws aside all constraints to help the humility he loves and the child that holds it.
The accurate observation of nature is another tenet of Romanticism, which is present in Wuthering Heights. Brontë describes nature with great detail and full of life. She depicts the "excessive slant of a few stunted firs" (10). She pictures the "range of gaunt thorns" which stretch for nourishment from the sun (10). Emily Brontë sees "the power of the north wind" flowing through Wuthering Heights (10). In the end, "the grass [is] as green as showers and sun could make it" (309). Emily Brontë’s love and vividness in her descriptions of nature help confirm that Wuthering Heights is a Romantic novel despite its being written during the Victorian era.
Nature is not only described with detail but also as being imbued with mysticism, symbolism, and religious significance. The heath is the major symbol in Wuthering Heights which has these characteristics. When Heathcliff and Catherine are young, they often go out at night onto the heath to enjoy the freedom and beauty of nature. The moor serves them as a religious sanctuary from the harshly exaggerated world they live in: Mr. Earnshaw tells his own daughter, "’thou ‘rt worse than thy brother. Go, say thy prayers, child, and ask God’s pardon’" (46). Much later, in a symbolic replay, Cathy says to Linton, "’this [the moors] is something like your paradise’" after she spends the day on the heath with Heathcliff to avoid scorn (249). Nature, specifically the heath, is shown as being a religious haven for those, like Linton, Catherine, and Heathcliff, who wish to contemplate or hide.
The Romantics especially the Graveyard School had an elegiac interest in mutability, mourning, and melancholy. Emily Brontë also had an interest in stressing and manipulating these qualities of man. Throughout his life, Heathcliff is the one character who not only realizes the mutability of life but also makes some of his decisions based on it: "’I’m trying to settle how I shall pay