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What do the moors symbolize in Wuthering Heights?

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What do the moors symbolize in Wuthering Heights?

In Wuthering Heights, the moors symbolize freedom. While out on the moors, Catherine and Heathcliff can escape from an oppressive and abusive social order and be themselves.

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The wild moors that surround Wuthering Heights represent freedom for the young Catherine and Heathcliff. The two grow up, especially after old Mr. Earnsahw dies, in a dysfunctional and violent household. Joseph subjects the two children to long, cold Bible studies in the attic, and in between, constantly predicts they will go to hell for their bad natures and bad behavior.

Hindley turns on the adopted Heathcliff with resentment, beating and degrading him for having been their father’s favorite. Hindley also becomes an often raving and dangerous alcoholic. Nelly Dean, for example, will hide his young son in a cupboard when Hindley begins his drunken ravings. At one point, we witness Hindley raving at his toddler son at knifepoint, threatening to carve him up.

It is no wonder that Catherine and Heathcliff find freedom, peace, and beauty in the moors. The moors are wild and rugged, perhaps unpleasant to outsiders, but for the two of them, they are a place of escape. On the moors, they can do what they wish. Nobody is around to criticize, hurt, or rave at them. Social restraints and differences in social rank don’t matter. Gender doesn’t matter. Joseph’s warped religious ideas about hellfire are far away. On the moors, the two can relate as the human beings they are.

Catherine, in particular, longs for the freedom of the moors as she is dying, dreaming of being cast out on them rather than sent to heaven.

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