, Research Paper
The Various Themes in Wuthering Heights
In the novel “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Bront?, many relevant themes were portrayed. In this essay, I will be discussing the five most poignant themes, which in my opinion are “Good versus Evil”,”Revenge”, “Status & Education”,”Love” and “Selfishness”. I feel that all these themes are equally important, and in the following paragraphs, I will attempt to discuss their impact on the reader and to the novel as a whole.
Emily Bront? developed the main characters very vividly. From the beginning of the novel, I was aware of a sense of spirit, feelings and emotions. As the novel unraveled, I began to emphasize with the innocent victims (Hareton, Linton, Cathy, etc.), and I had a clear vision of what was happening in the homes and between the two families. It was very clear to me why Heathcliff and Edgar became so hateful and vengeful; however, I felt very angry at the cycle of abuse and misery that continued through the generations. It seemed like nobody in either family was ever able to find peace and harmony, and everybody who ever had any ties to the families were affected and displayed certain attitudes and emotional afflictions.
I think the overall theme is that good eventually overcomes evil (or love is stronger than hate). In addition, with the emphasis on spirituality and death, the reader’s focus turns to the role of God in determining the happiness or misery of our eternal soul. It was very frustrating to read about the pain and abuse the characters were inflicting on each other, It was evident that the
prejudices and attitudes of the first generation were being passed down to the next. Young Cathy, Linton and Hareton were all subjected to and expected to conform to the anger, prejudices and attitudes of their families. The animosity between the two families was being forced upon the children, and therefore could have continued forever. However, it was very enlightening when Cathy and Hareton were finally able to become friends and then marry. The love that had been repressed for so long, beginning with Catherine and Hareton, was finally given a chance to blossom. This turn of events gave me hope that good can overcome evil, and love can be attained even in the most evil environments.
Revenge is the most dominant theme of the second half of the novel. Heathcliff first believes that if he can avenge the death of Catherine, he will somehow grow closer to her. However, the exact opposite occurs. When Heathcliff gives up on his plan for revenge, he is soon reunited with Catherine in eternal bliss.
Ignorance and Education were very prominent in the beginning of the book. Especially when Heathcliff was first introduced to the family. He was a poor orphan, with little or no education. The rest of the family at Wuthering Heights treated him like a second-class citizen. Heathcliff was resented, mocked and abused if he attempted to improve himself in any way. When Heathcliff returned to Wuthering Heights, the abuse Heathcliff suffered obviously scarred him, so the cycle of abuse continued when he inflicted worse treatment on Hareton Earnshaw. He forced him to work in the home as a common servant, belittled him, and psychologically abused him by constantly badgering him. When the Linton’s are introduced to the reader, it is readily apparent that the family has a higher social status and is more educated than the residents at Wuthering Heights are.
Even though I wouldn’t consider “Wuthering Heights” to be a romantic novel, love was a very important theme. Bront? addresses the bond between Catherine and Heathcliff in a spiritual and supernatural manner. Their love is spiritual rather than physical, and although they seemed to be soul mates their love was never appeased. As children, Catherine and Heathcliff had a bond that grew out of similar needs. They grew up protecting and trying to shelter each other from the abuse from Hindley, and consequently they developed an eternal friendship, love and affinity. They were soul mates even as children. Bront? expands the notion of eternal love, by creating a supernatural aspect in the story, and this is masterfully illustrated when Heathcliff contacts Catherine’s spirit after she dies. Their souls are eternally joined, and Heathcliff cannot live in this realm without her, only their souls joined together make one. Heathcliff eventually dies because he has to reunite his soul to Catherine’s.
Selfishness was first introduced when Mr. Earnshaw brought Heathcliff, home to Wuthering Heights. In the beginning, Heathcliff was treated equally as a member of the family, but after Mr. Earnshaw’s death, everybody abused him (except Catherine) in any manner or regard they wanted. As a result of this treatment, Heathcliff grew up to be the most selfish person in the family. He was hateful, spiteful and very vengeful. In addition, he lost respect and compassion for people, and completely disregarded others’ emotions and needs. He devastated Catherine when he disappeared, and shattered Isabella when he married her to spite Edgar. When his only son Linton returned to Wuthering Heights, he withheld affection, medical attention and had no sympathy for Linton’s loss of his mother. Heathcliff then coerced young Cathy to marry Linton, therefore fulfilling his own greedy and vengeful agenda of acquiring Thrushcross Grange. At this end, he basically caused Linton’s death through neglect and malfeasance.
Catherine’s selfish character was depicted when she wanted both Edgar and Heathcliff at the same time. Catherine wanted Edgar for his status and Heathcliff for his love. Her selfishness caused years of grief for both Edgar and Heathcliff, and consequently she died forlorn and remiss of the true love that was destined to be hers.
Overall, I felt that “Wuthering Heights” was an excellent novel, and was very well written. The themes Emily Bront? introduced were well depicted, organized, established and resolved and/or analyzed. Emily Bront? was a magnificent author, and her style, use of words and ideas make “Wuthering Heights” a true classic. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and would recommend it to anyone.