Essay, Research Paper
Many readers argue that Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte is anything but a romance. Although it does not follow the conventional form of the Victorian Romance novels, it can be argued that it is one of the greatest love stories of all time. The traditional forms of love may not be represented in this story, but one can not argue that love is the predominant theme throughout the book. What else but love could possibly drive the characters to the ends which they accomplish.
The most controversial and the predominant love represented in this novel is that of ?spiritual love.? This form of love is the one shared between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw Linton. This bond is expressed by Catherine when she tells Nelly, ?I can not express it; but surely you and every body have a notion that there is, or should be, an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of my creation if I were entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff?s miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning; my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and, if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the Universe would turn to a mighty stranger….Nelly, I am Heathcliff .? (page 81) It may be hard for most people to understand their bond, as very few people ever experience a love of this type during their lifetime. The only comparisons that may be offered for an attempt at understanding may perhaps be the bond felt by someone regarding their first love. Although this relationship may end, a special connection will always be felt for this person, and the love that was felt will never be forgotten. As many state, there will always be a special place in their heart for this person. Another example may be the love a parent feels for a child. Although this is not a romantic love, it is a love that is unconditional and timeless. Catherine and Heathcliff, through their own actions, are never able to truly act on their love for one another, and this tragedy is what allows us to experience the timeless classic of Wuthering Heights.
With her marriage to Edgar Linton, Catherine makes it impossible for her and Heathcliff to ever be joined together. Although her actions seem selfish, she sees this as the only way that she can help raise Heathcliff from the clutches of her brother Hindley. Heathcliff, unfortunately, never understands her actions for what they truly are, and chaos results. This impeded love serves as the catalyst throughout the novel, bringing with it tragedy and revenge. Heathcliff is driven to reek havoc on all of those who he views as wronging him in some form – except of course for Catherine. Everything in the story happens through Heathcliff, and results from the distortion of his personality because of this thwarted love. As long as he has Catherine, he can stand anything, but without her all of his emotions turn to hate.
Some may questions whether or not Catherine loves Edgar Linton before she marries him. The only explanation that may be offered is that if she does love him, this love can only be defined as superficial. Catherine is unable to ever feel anything more spiritual for Edgar, as this part of herself is reserved for Heathcliff alone. Catherine expresses this emotion when she tells Nelly, ?My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods. Time will change it, I?m well aware, as winter changes the trees – my love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath – a source of little visible delight but necessary.? (page 82) She realizes that her love for Heathcliff is far more important than what she feels for Edgar, but Edgar offers her a civilized, socially acceptable, and materialistic advantage. She knows that marrying Heathcliff would cause them both a lifetime of misery, as they would live as beggars. What Catherine does not realize is that by denying herself a union with Heathcliff results in a tragedy deeper than she can comprehend.
After her marriage to Edgar, and the return of Heathcliff; Catherine is torn apart spiritually , mentally and emotionally when she realizes what she has done. She realizes that it is impossible for her to love Heathcliff and remain with Edgar and seeks release through death. At this point Catherine acknowledges that the only way her and Heathcliff will ever be together is through death. She knows that it will be impossible for her to enter heaven and will be able to wait for Heathcliff to come to her.
With her marriage to Edgar, the good in Heathcliff turns to evil, and he seeks vengeance upon everyone around him, except for Catherine. When Heathcliff returns from his three year absence, he arranges to once again see Catherine. Shortly thereafter, Catherine submits herself to her own death. After approximately seventeen years of avenging his ?enemies?, Heathcliff finally loses his desire to go on causing suffering to others. He realizes that he in fact loves Hareton (his nemisis? son) because of his resemblance to Catherine. Upon this revelation, he begins to eagerly await his own death, and his union with Catherine.
Heathcliff and Catherine are examples of two people who love each other beyond the comprehension of most people. The story is one of tragedy, and because of Heathcliff?s actions, many readers have a hard time viewing him as a hero. However, if one truly understands the meaning behind Emily Bronte?s writing, the only emotion that can be felt for Heathcliff is that of sympathy and pity. Through no action of his own, and only because of his birthright, Heathcliff is denied his one true love. Without the pressures of social expectations and usurpers, Heathcliff and Catherine may have married and changed the course of their lives. With Catherine, Heathcliff was a sedate and accepting childlike figure. After Catherine deserts him to marry Linton, Heathcliff is unable to feel anything but hate and anger for others. If Catherine and Heathcliff had been able to follow their hearts as Cathy and Hareton are, they would have experienced the greatest love possible. When Hareton and Cathy plant their garden at Wuthering Heights, and it begins to blossom, the reader understands that a rebirth is about to occur. Somehow it is known, through this symbolism, that all that was evil will turn to love. Heathcliff and Cathy will be united in death, and the love of Cathy and Hareton will bloom. What will endure is an easier and more plausible love represented by Hareton and Cathy. Heathcliff is redeemed when even he recognizes this. He finally lets go of his feelings of bitterness and is joined with Catherine through death.
This story represents a great romantic tragedy, that may in fact be compared to Romeo and Juliet. The fate of star crossed lovers who are unable to enjoy passion in life is to find redemption through death. To not understand that this is a love story, one beyond the comprehension of most, is a great loss to readers. To view this book only as one of violence, hate and revenge serves a great injustice. Understanding the love of these two people, Catherine and Heathcliff, would bring envy to anyone. To feel a love so strongly and so deeply is something that most of us will never be lucky enough to experience, and may never be able to truly comprehend.