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How Is Foreshadowing Used in Wuthering Heights?

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Emily Brontë foreshadows the further plot to hint at future events and add to the mystery. But some predicted events have already happened because the narrative is nonlinear. Foreshadowing is expressed through Lockwood’s dreams and other events.

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Lockwood pays a visit to his host, Heathcliff. Upon meeting him, Cathy, and Hareton, he makes a few wrong assumptions. He mistakes Cathy for Heathcliff’s wife and Hareton for his son. Heathcliff quickly denies both suggestions, but it does not satisfy Lockwood. Many things remain unclear. He is unsure of Hareton’s role in the manor, as Heathcliff does not bother to explain. The only hint that he gets is Hareton’s last name – Earnshaw. The apparent hostility between Heathcliff and the other tenants wonders him.

Throughout the novel, weather changes foreshadow certain events. Stormy weather precedes the turning points. For example, 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. The following night’s events predict the story of the Earnshaw family, told by Nelly. As Lockwood stays at the manor, he finds many writings on the wall of his bedroom.

He sees the name “Catherine” combined with different surnames – Earnshaw, Heathcliff, and Linton. Brontë hints at elder Catherine’s story, as she was born Earnshaw, fell in love with Heathcliff, and had to marry Linton. Lockwood finds fragments of her diary and reads them before falling asleep. Haunted by nightmares, he sees Catherine’s ghost trying to get inside the room through the window. Lockwood struggles to get rid of it. It says, “I’ve been a waif for twenty years.” The encounter with the ghost is another example of Brontë’s use of foreshadowing.

In the following chapters, Nelly tells Lockwood about the childhood of Heathcliff and Catherine. The way everyone treats Heathcliff foreshadows his attitude towards his kin later in life. Ironically, Isabella wants her father to lock Heathcliff up in the cellar. But then she marries him and gets mistreated. As Heathcliff suffers from Hindley’s hatred in childhood, he treats Hareton, Hindley’s son, the same way years later. His hatred for Lintons makes him treat Cathy, his daughter-in-law, in a similar manner.

Heathcliff hangs Isabella’s dog. It foreshadows his future violent behavior with her. Unable to marry Catherine, he has to endure Isabella’s presence until she runs away. Shortly before her death, Catherine tells Heathcliff she will not rest as long as they are together. She predicts her future, as she becomes a ghost, haunting Wuthering Heights’ tenants. Moreover, Catherine foreshadows Heathcliff’s obsession with her grave. He bribes a sexton to put their bodies together when he dies. After Heathcliff’s death, locals start seeing two ghosts walking together.

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"How Is Foreshadowing Used in Wuthering Heights?" IvyPanda, 1 June 2021, ivypanda.com/q/how-is-foreshadowing-used-in-wuthering-heights/.

1. IvyPanda. "How Is Foreshadowing Used in Wuthering Heights?" June 1, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/q/how-is-foreshadowing-used-in-wuthering-heights/.


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IvyPanda. "How Is Foreshadowing Used in Wuthering Heights?" June 1, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/q/how-is-foreshadowing-used-in-wuthering-heights/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "How Is Foreshadowing Used in Wuthering Heights?" June 1, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/q/how-is-foreshadowing-used-in-wuthering-heights/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'How Is Foreshadowing Used in Wuthering Heights'. 1 June.

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