Wuthering Heights

Mirrors, Windows, and Glass in Wuthering Heights

Various glass objects, usually mirrors and windows, play a seemingly ubiquitous role in the construction of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights; rarely does a chapter go by where the reader is not given some description of a character passing by a window, looking into a mirror, or some other such activity. Yet we should not find this persistent imagery too peculiar; the natural properties of glass 'impermeability, lucidity, fragility' make it an excellent symbolic correlative for several of the characters of the novel. Most specifically, Catherine and Heathcliff are thoroughly reflected (both literally and figuratively), and thereby enlarged as characters, in the various glass imagery that abounds throughout Wuthering Heights.

Catherine, like all great tragic characters, ultimately fails (in life, at least) because of her tragic flaw, namely the insistent wrongness of purpose with which she makes important decisions. Her decision to marry Edgar Linton, for instance, is predicated on her desire to aid Heathcliff by becoming wealthy, and while the sentiment is sincere, it is equally misplaced; we know that it is her very marriage to Linton which ultimately leads to Catherine's death and Heathcliff's lifelong...

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