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LITERARY / HISTORICAL INFORMATION
All Emily Brontë's girlhood was an unconscious preparation for the writing of Wuthering Heights. In her preface to Wuthering Heights, Charlotte describes her sister's feeling for the moors: "her native hills were far more to her than a spectacle; they were what she lived in, and by, as much as the wild birds, their tenants, or as the heather, their produce." Wandering over the moors in all seasons and weathers, Emily Brontë loved them with as passionate and intimate a knowledge as that with which she endowed her heroines of Wuthering Heights, the two Catherines. Those heathery wastes around her home fed her imagination as vitally as they nourished her physical well being. Emily Brontë's love and knowledge of her native place undoubtedly played a powerful part in the writing of the novel, which Charlotte described as "moorish, and wild, and knotty as a root of heath."
Emily might have taken the idea of Heathcliff's revenge from the Tales of Hoffman and other German romances she read while at school in Brussels in 1842. The sources of her characterization and incidents were various. As a child she had listened to the tales of her father over the breakfast table. Some of these were weird Irish legends from his youth. Others were lurid true stories of their own neighborhood in the recent past. Emily's lively imagination eagerly absorbed all of his descriptions and changed some of them into characters and events in Wuthering Heights.
In addition to all the tales she had heard, Emily Brontë had first- hand experience with the wretched spectacle of masculine depravity. Branwell, the brother of Emily, had high literary and artistic ambitions that were doomed to disappointment. Always in trouble, and slowly destroying himself with drink and drugs, he was an unending source of worry to his family. Emily's portrait of the disintegration of Hindley in Wuthering Heights reflects Branwell's own disintegration.