In Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte presents two main houses where all the important events happen: Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. These two houses are on the Yorkshire moors and are positioned in opposition of each other. These two residences do have some similarities but they are extremely different in many ways.
Both houses are set on the moors but the surrounding of each one is very different. Wuthering Heights is settled on the top of a hill. As the name “Wuthering” implies, the house is surrounded by fierce winds and wild stormy weather most of the time. Such weather symbolizes the chaos and drama that is always going on inside the house. On the other hand, Thrushcross Grange is settled on flat land. It is well enclosed and protected, which symbolizes the calm and comfortable scenes that usually happen inside its walls. Both houses don’t only differ on their surroundings but on their vegetation and gardens too. In Wuthering Heights, “cows are the only hedgecutters”(pg 4) and the intense winds have formed “stunted firs at the end of the house” (pg 4).
The garden is neglected and is definitely not attractive, showing the hostility to foreigners. The stunted growth of the plants symbolizes the growth of the inhabitants that are sometimes unable to grow properly emotionally (as in the case of Heathcliff’s and Catherine’s love for each other). Such characteristics create a feeling of alienation in the house. Thrushcross Grange’s peaceful environment can be reflected on the vegetation around it. The garden’s main feature is the hedge that surrounds it. This hedge provides protection and privacy and it makes the house seem secluded and hidden. However, the hedge is “broken”. This little passage under the hedge may show how even the most organized things always do have tiny flaws, just like the inhabitants and the scenes in this house.
As well as the vegetation, the interior of each house reflects on the inhabitants and the scenes that take place in them. Wuthering Heights is more of a dark, cold place but Thrushcross Grange is bright and comfortable. The interior in Wuthering Heights is directly related to the hostility to foreigners. The “high-backed, primitive” (5) chairs seem very uncomfortable and not very welcoming, and the “narrow windows” that “are deeply set in the wall” (4) let scarcely any light in. The darkness and the isolation feeling inside create and uncomfortable environment for visitors, which is exactly what the Earnshaws are aiming for most of the time. On the other hand, Thrushcross Grange radiates warmth and a coziness atmosphere. It is a “splendid place carpeted with crimson” (48) that is very welcoming and agreeable. It has plush warm light from the “drops hanging in silver chains” and “little soft tapers”. This chandelier and candles fill the area with a soft light that is replaced by natural light during the day. The interior of both houses represent completely opposite atmospheres that often relate to the feelings of the people living in them.
At the beginning of Nelly Dean’s story, the inhabitants of each house behave themselves very differently. Their behaviors can clearly be related to the way each house is kept and decorated. The atmosphere at Wuthering Heights mainly shows the rejection towards outsiders. When Mr. Earnshaw brings Heathcliff into the house, nobody accepts him because of his “dirty, ragged” (36) look. Everyone in the house judges him and rejects him only because he looks different. The atmosphere in Thrushcross Grange is more welcoming and polite. The house is decorated very exquisitely and seems very warm and cozy. The young Lintons (Edgar and Isabella) are very spoiled and often childish, however they are well behaved. After staying with the Lintons five weeks, Catherine came back with “wonderfully whitened” (54) fingers from staying indoors, and “her manners much improved” (53) to Wuthering Heights. She was very influenced by the organized comportment in Thrushcross Grange. Both families differ from their styles of living and their residences manifest their characteristics.
In the novel, Bronte shows us how both houses serve as residences of families with different ways of socializing. Even though, the Lintons and the Earnshaws start to mix later on the novel, they each keep their personality. This feature creates a clash between wild and uncivilized with luxurious and refined. Each family has its own way of educating, growing and socializing, therefore each house has its own way of reflecting what lies in the inside of its walls.