Wuthering Heights Essay, Research Paper
Love is an affection of warm attachment, adoration, and devotion based on strong admiration, benevolence, and common interests. It would be anomalous to associate this pleasurable emotion with the ever so spiteful thought of revenge. However, considering the major themes proposed in Wuthering Heights, revenge is the most imminent of them all. It is the predominant factor that leads the protagonists to their dismal fate. Emily Bronte proves that there is no peace in eternal vengeance, and in the end, self-injury involved in serving revenge?s purposes will be more damaging than the original injustice.
The theme of revenge grows from the ill treatment Heathcliff receives from Hindley. Hindley’s prime motivation for this badgering is centered around love, or to be more precise, the lack of love. He decides to persecute Heathcliff, who has usurped Hindley’s very own position in his father’s heart. He releases this animosity on the young and vulnerable Heathcliff by refusing to allow the curate to continue Heathcliff?s education and by also forcing the young boy to work as a farm hand. Hindley?s final desperation at revenge is an attempt to kill Heathcliff. This backfires and he only succeeds in hurting himself more in the process. This revenge on Heathcliff causes Hindley to go bankrupt and eventually hastens his own demise. Hindley’s tragedy illustrates the point Isabella makes, ?Treachery and violence are spears pointed at both ends; they wound those who resort to them worse than their enemies? (Bronte 177). The ever so common phrase, “What goes around comes around,” also comes to mind. The reasoning behind Hindley’s revenge is clearly understood, but sympathy for Hindley is only temporary because his unfortunate predicaments are of his own making. If he had been more lenient and understanding of Heathcliff’s needs, he would have avoided his own mishaps. In the end, Hindley?s loss of Wuthering Heights to Heathcliff and his mysterious death reflect how vengeance does not make anything better, only worse.
Heathcliff’s seeking of revenge in a selfish manner also leads to the misery of his own soul. Heathcliff exhibits a very immature quality of always needing to propagate agony in those who have offended him. Continually being abused as a child and later losing his love, Catherine, eventually leads Heathcliff to develop into a monstrous being. First, he was invited by Hindley’s father into the Earnshaw family because he was a poor orphan, with little or no education. Yet, the rest of the family at Wuthering Heights treated him like an uncivilized second-class citizen. Despite his attempts to improve himself in any way, the other members of the household resented, mocked or abused him. Then, Catherine also hurt Heathcliff, by disregarding his love and marrying Edgar Linton. In retaliation for the abuses he has endured, Heathcliff seeks revenge to free his soul of these ill treatments. Heathcliff proclaims that he does not feel any remorse when thinking of the revenge he could take. He devises a plan of attack to get back at Edgar, the man who singularly took away his happiness. Yet, the moment Catherine’s ardent welcome proves she still loves him, he abandons this plan and adopts another – that of taking up residence again at Wuthering Heights in order to be near her. He devises a plan to try once more to regain the love of Catherine. The rest of his plan deals with the hopes of becoming master of the Heights and the Grange. By doing this he can take revenge against all of the Earnshaws and the Lintons collectively. His final act of revenge is the forced marriage of Cathy and his son Linton, ?Mr. Heathcliff, you have nobody to love you: and, however miserable you make us, we still have the revenge of thinking that your cruelty arises from your greater misery!” (Bronte 218) This union completed the journey of revenge for Heathcliff. With that union, Heathcliff gains control of Thrushcross Grange.
Heathcliff’s great passion in the need for revenge and administering acts of cruelty allows the reader to understand his basis of emotions. He first plans to redress Edgar and Catherine by marrying Isabella, who is ignorant of both love and men, because she has never experienced either. He eventually marries her only to avenge Catherine by trying to make her jealous. Because of Edgar’s rancor for Heathcliff, Heathcliff also believes that by marrying Edgar’s sister he will also aggrieve him. Catherine?s death proves that this flawed plan of repayment helps no one. However, the haunting memory of his beloved Catherine again motivates Heathcliff’s need for revenge. He believes that if he can somehow avenge the death of Catherine, he will grow closer to her. Therefore, he devises a second plan to keep the young Cathy away from Edgar by forcing her to marry his son, Linton. Unfortunately, all does not work out as planned. Eventually, Heathcliff gives up on this plan for revenge and he finally becomes reunited with Catherine in eternal bliss only through death. Although he believes he can find happiness in his revenge, the exact opposite occurs. While seeking fulfillment through the torture of others, Heathcliff?s satisfaction is anything but fulfilled. He acknowledges that his vengeance has not released him by stating that he burns in hell despite his actions. ?I have no pity! I know no pity! The worms writhe; the more I yearn to crush out their entrails! It is a moral teething, and I grind with greater energy, in proportion to the increase of pain.” (Bronte 152) In this proclamation Heathcliff affirms that he cannot achieve freedom by the crushing of his enemies, but that his pain increases as his selfish actions prevail. Heathcliff destroys himself in his quest for revenge and his unending attempt to destroy others. He realizes that his revenge has caused nothing but pain and that it offers no solace as he observes the caring relationship of Cathy and Hareton. He finally realizes that his need for revenge was misguided and that it has not minimized his pain. He no longer finds interests in his life, and finds that his revenge has devoured him. He never glimpses tranquility until he finally gives up his plan for revenge just before he dies. Heathcliff is then able to reunite with Catherine in death and finally know peace. His revenge had not accomplished the satisfaction he desired; instead he felt destroyed and distraught by the results of his selfish conduct. The selfishness that consumed him prevented any hopes for contentment. Overcoming this selfishness would have led to true happiness; yet he attempted to fulfill his desires instead at the cost of others, resulting in a life of misery.
Another fruitless attempt of revenge comes from Catherine. She tries to extract revenge on Heathcliff by blaming him for her foreseen death. Unfortunately for her, this does not come close to ameliorating her mind. Just before her death she tries to punish Heathcliff by blaming him for her ?murder.? ?You have killed me, and thriven on it? (Bronte 158). Catherine?s death is facilitated by her lack of emotional control and her dual personalities. She is free-spirited, beautiful, spoiled, and arrogant all at the same time. Despite her intense love for Heathcliff and her belief that they are one, her desire for social advancement and popularity draws her toward Edgar. This was the event that was pivotal in driving away Heathcliff. Her decision was to marry Linton, during which she reveals, ?I?ve no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in Heaven; and if the wicked man in there had not brought Heathcliff so low, I shouldn?t have thought of it. It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now (Bronte 63);? Clearly, she does not love Edgar, but we witness another example of selfishness taking control. Catherine?s revenge on Heathcliff does not assist her in finding contentment either. She looks forward to dying and is ?wearying to escape into that glorious world? (Bronte 160).
In the long run, she does not redress Heathcliff, nor does she procure him as her love.
Bronte corroborates that revenge is not only a harsh and rash way to live life, but is counter-productive and hurtful. The essence of love is consistently present throughout the entire novel, but there is also a strong underlying current of hate and the want for revenge. The self-hurt involved with this vengeance in the main characters illustrates that there are better ways of solving conflicts than resorting to spiteful acts of revenge. Bronte delivers a great message by demonstrating how a quest for negative revenge can be empty and consuming. A life-long lesson of never seeking retaliation is epitomized through this novel. Bronte underscores her message by only allowing her character’s a glimpse of peace, contentment, and happiness when they finally relinquish their quest for vengeance.