In Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte uses Romantic conventions to reject Romantic ideals through the characters of Catherine and Heathcliff and two kinds of love. Perhaps she chooses to reject Romanticism because she sees that the innate irrationalism of the ideal can lead to destruction when taken to extremes, as it is in her novel. She speaks to her audience with almost an appeal to look away from the stylized emotions of Romanticism and return to the simple beauty of the commonplace, the non-fantastical. Her main narrator, Nelly Dean, describes the daily necessities of life in exquisite detail; it is only the Romantic characters, such as Catherine and Heathcliff, who speak of the abstractions of love with ardour. Nelly maintains a world of the real, however harsh, where a woman can get out of breath walking the moors and where even handsome of men can waste away. Her level voice is the appeal that Bronte put out, it seems. One of the sadder things about the book is that many readers choose to ignore the book for anything but its first, passionate love story. No one remembers Catherine Linton and Hareton's shy, gentle love; instead they remember the insatiable passions of Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff. They remember the wild beauty of the moors instead of the simpler but equally beautiful realities of the civilized world. They remember Heathcliff as a dark hero, doing some evil, but only because of his broken heart. Most movie versions of the book end with Catherine Earnshaw's death. There is no mention made of any of the next generation. Bronte's message that the ideals of Romanticism can be destructive if applied in the extreme are subverted or simply ignored. However, it is there as palpably as Heathcliff's undying love and the dark eaves of Wuthering Heights, equally if not more important.
Wuthering Heights and the Rejection of Romanticism