Critics such as Elizabeth Napier and Lorraine Sim explore some aspects of space and borders in their discussions of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, presumably to demonstrate that the novel is a representative nineteenth-century text that depicts and comments on fundamentally nineteenth-century debates and concerns. However, the existing critical work on Brontë’s novel does not include analyses that incorporate spatial theories such as those of Henri Lefebvre, Edward Soja, Michel Foucault, and Henk van Houtum in their discussion of Brontë’s narrative as a seminal nineteenth-century work of fiction. These spatial theories maintain that those who occupy positions of power in society shape and remodel the spaces and borders in which society exists and of which it consists, and impose these constructs on the other members of society to ensure social order and to safeguard their own position of authority within the structure of society. In this dissertation, such theories have been used to emphasise the significance of the portrayal of space and borders as social constructs in the narrative, and to show that such an investigation presents alternative or more nuanced interpretations of some of the events and characters in the novel.
Particular attention is paid to Brontë’s reworking of earlier literary traditions and tropes, such as the distinction between nature and civilisation, to depict and examine problems in the society of nineteenth-century Britain. The study also considers the relations between nineteenth-century Britain and the other communities within the British Empire, the three-tier structure of nineteenth-century British society, the male bodily ideal, the representation of socially acceptable behaviour, and the places assigned to those who do not conform to social norms. Lastly, ideas about death and the afterworld, as they are portrayed in the narrative, are examined, as well as the link between society and the shaping of locations of death such as heaven, hell, and purgatory.