Monday, 26 November 2012

Themes in Wuthering Heights Book Covers

Locating a single image to covey the complexities of Wuthering Heights is perhaps an impossible task. Yet, the subtle art of book cover design has created many, sometimes surprising, responses to Emily Brontës well known novel. In anticipation of our upcoming conference, we have selected just some of these covers to examine how the book's themes of love, revenge, family, and identity, have been envisioned by publishers over time.

The heroine of Wuthering Heights, Catherine Earnshaw, is famously torn between the forces of nature and culture, symbolised in her contrasting love for Heathcliff and Edgar. Several book covers featuring Cathy have attempted to capture the character's torment.

The character of Heathcliff is a profoundly difficult creation to assess. His deep devotion to Cathy is central to the book's narrative of obsession, and eventually drives him to the point of madness. Equally, his charisma, capacity for self-invention, and desire to reap revenge are central to his story. Many of these book covers seem fittingly mysterious in their portrayal of the complicated literary figure. 

Cathy famously identifies two versions of love when choosing to marry Edgar over Heathcliff. Although commonly known as a romance novel, the actuality of Wuthering Height's depictions express various dimensions beyond typical romance, from marriages of convenience to dangerous obsession. Perhaps as a result of the mythology that has grown around Cathy and Heathcliff, some book covers seem to overlook the complexity of relationships expressed in the story.

The Moors
The forming of the Yorkshire moors as a character unto itself is widely considered to be one of Emily's most inspired literary techniques. As the deeply atmospheric setting of Wuthering Heights, the wild and unpredictable countryside provides a fitting backdrop to the shifting nature of the character's relationships. The novel's remarkably descriptive landscape continues to provide readers with rich and memorable mental imagery, making it a common choice for book cover designs. 

If you would like to share your thoughts regarding this post, please do not hesitate to comment below. To register for the Re-visioning the Brontës conference at Leeds University, please visit

We do not own any of these images, but use this selection of book covers for academic purposes only. If there are any issues arising from their publication on this blog please contact

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