In the first movement of 'Wuthering Heights', Emily Bronte develops an intense atmosphere that is initiated in the very first chapter, and carried on throughout the novel. She develops these ideas, and uses the moors, the weather, the two houses, Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange, and the inhabitants of the houses to do this. Changes occur in the atmosphere, through changes in the physical nature of the novel, and the vivid depiction of anger, hatred and jealousy is only increased as the novel goes on, and the atmosphere builds up. Through Bronte's way of accomplishing this, she puts forward a very suitable and accurate background from which the rest of the novel can flourish.
During Emily Bronte's life, it was almost unheard of for this kind of intense, passionate writing to come from anyone, let alone a woman, and this secrecy, this facade that Bronte had to hide behind, a male pseudonym, makes the extreme concealment and the hidden emotions come across even more explicitly. Bronte was also a Rector's daughter, making it even more bizarre that this story could be based on such raw emotion, and is so rough around the edges, though in all societies there has to be an exception, a rebel, someone who will insist on doing things differently, and Emily Bronte is definitely a prime example of this. Lastly, the Yorkshire moors in which Bronte lived were a heavy influence on the novel, 'Wuthering Heights', and through this story Bronte found a powerful way to feed her emotions into the un-accepting society of the 19 th century. First impressions of a book are a necessarily important way of getting the reader hooked on a novel, and even before the reader picks up the book, from the title itself we are instantly given an atmospheric picture in our minds, that is later explained in chapter one: "Wuthering Heights is the name of Mr Heathcliff's dwelling, 'Wuthering' being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather." This gives us a vivid picture in our mind of the house and sets the scene for the rest of the novel. From the very first paragraph of chapter one, we are instantly taken into the world of Wuthering Heights, its surroundings, and its inhabitants. On Lockwood's meeting with Mr Heathcliff, Bronte makes it clear to the reader that this man is a sinister, suspecting, and surreptitious character.
The very first sentence, "I have just returned from a visit to my landlord, the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with," tells us that Mr Heathcliff is a very solitary character, and the fact that Mr Lockwood says that he "shall be troubled with" Mr Heathcliff begins to prepare us for the story unfolding before our eyes, and what it may contain. Almost immediately following this, the description of Mr Heathcliff continues, and creates a very fitting atmosphere for this scene. Heathcliff's cloaked sentiment, especially towards other characters in the book, is shown particularly strongly here: "The 'walk in' was uttered with closed teeth and expressed the sentiment, 'Go to the Deuce!' " As Heathcliff radiates an aura of great disturbance here, we are indeed given a fine display of hidden emotions and a harsh atmosphere is created around this intriguing character. Heathcliff instantly becomes a model that we will use not only to judge every inhabitant of the Heights, but every character in the book. Bronte's description of the moors, and how she executes the events that take place there, are of great importance in the book. The moors play a large role in the development of the relationship with Catherine and Heathcliff, and mirror Heathcliff's life especially to a great extent, rough and unforgiving, ruthless and wild, passionate and intoxicating.
Catherine and Heathcliff's companionship is a prominent part of the opening chapters of 'Wuthering Heights', and an atmosphere is created around them, of trust, reliability and understanding. Even when Heathcliff is banished to the servant's quarters, Catherine sticks by him, "Cathy taught him what she learnt, and worked or played with him in the fields." The moors were a refuge for the two, away from the Heights, and an atmosphere of safety and reliability is created here, as it is a retreat to which they would frequently visit, "But it was one of their chief amusements to run away to the moors in the morning and remain there all day." Later on in the novel however, once Heathcliff and Catherine have grown apart, the moors help to change the atmosphere to a more appropriate one, one of treachery, and jealousy, and regret. The precious time on the moors grew into nothing, and as Catherine changed, Heathcliff remained the same. Heathcliff still had the urge to run away and out onto the moors, whereas Catherine had changed during her stay at Thrushcross Grange, and wanted to marry Edgar Linton. This changes the atmosphere from a secure, trustworthy one, to a very jealous, unforgiving and harsh one, which is a much more fitting atmosphere for Heathcliff's emotions. Also, on Catherine's marriage with Edgar, Heathcliff does in fact run away out onto the moors: "Heathcliff had never been heard of since the evening of the thunder-storm," re-affirming that Heathcliff still hasn't changed one bit and is still his old self, that he has been left behind as the times changed.
Wuthering Heights also plays a very important role in setting the atmosphere in the first few chapters especially. As it is the title of the book it is instantly made known to us as an essential component of the story. Home to Heathcliff and Catherine, it is where the story is set for most of the first movement. In Bronte's description of the house, she creates an atmosphere of anger, jealousy, denial and secrecy. The house is wild, old and overgrown, as well as completely removed from the rest of the world: "the excessive slant of a few, stunted firs at the end of the house, and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way,"the narrow windows are deeply set in the wall, and the corners defended with large jutting stones." This house sounds more like a ruined castle than a place that people might actually inhabit, and this is helpful to the reader as not only is this a description of the house, but partially of the inhabitants too.
Where the windows are "deeply set in the wall," the inhabitants' emotions too are deeply set inside them, "I beheld his black eyes withdraw so suspiciously under their brows," a description of Heathcliff on first meeting Lockwood. The 'Heights' part of the name, refers to the heightened emotions of the inhabitants of the house, as well as the house's situation. As you can see, many of the words and phrases that Bronte uses have double meanings, such as this one. In the beginning of 'Wuthering Heights', Thrushcross Grange is not mentioned in any substantiality, and so Bronte uses this as another point on which to re-create her atmosphere further into the book. Thrushcross Grange, the house in which the Linton's live, to which Catherine moves when she marries Edgar, is almost a complete contrast to Wuthering Heights and its inhabitants.
It seems at first more peaceful, and loving, and welcoming, yet when Heathcliff and Catherine sneak up to the window one night, the reader is set back, as we get something that we did not expect, a scene of commotion and spoilt anger. Heathcliff and Catherine see Edgar and Isabella incredibly distressed from a fight over their dog; Isabella, a year younger than Catherine, "lay screaming at the far end of the room, shrieking as if witches were running red hot needles into her. Edgar stood on the hearth weeping silently." This creates an atmosphere in itself; something that is seemingly so different to its surroundings, as if it were higher than them, still has the great anger and pain of its surroundings, even though it may be caused by different situations and events. Thrushcross Grange also plays a significant role in changing the atmosphere when Catherine moves there on marrying Edgar. This creates many new paths for the story to take, and the atmosphere is changed from one of apparent tranquillity and peace, to one that has to adapt to new situations, and becomes a stronger source of Heathcliff's jealousy, as his one true love has moved there. Perhaps one of the largest contributors towards the creation of an appropriate and complex atmosphere is the literary technique that Bronte uses to describe the weather.
Looking back at Chapter One, we can see how much the weather actually sets the scene: "'Wuthering' being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather." This sentence alone creates a stormy, unstable atmosphere that she enforces throughout the novel. An example of this is the thunderstorm in chapter 9. This thunderstorm is used as a pivotal point in the story, as Catherine gets ill from being in the rain so long and goes back to Thrushcross Grange, and Heathcliff runs away into it, when he finds out that Catherine and Edgar are getting married: "The storm came rattling over the Heights in full fury. There was a violent wind, as well as thunder, and either one or the other split a tree off at the corner of the building." This creates an atmosphere in two ways; one, in that stormy, dark, windy, rainy weather stirs a dark, troubled feeling in the reader, and two, in that the weather causes many things to happen, which significantly affect the story, changing atmosphere.
In conclusion, Bronte creates an excellent and appropriate atmosphere and background to the events of Wuthering Heights through her unique literary technique. Using the weather, the location, the two houses, the characters, and a dramatic opening that is carried on throughout the whole book, she has managed to create a very believable, yet eerily realistic atmosphere to the whole novel, and this is one of the main reasons, if not THE main reason why this book has been so renowned for so long.