Wuthering Heights, the great novel by Emily Bronte, though not inordinately long is an amalgamation of childhood fantasies, friendship, romance, and revenge. But this story is not a simple story of revenge, it has more profound implications. As Arnold Kettle, the English critic, said,” Wuthering Heights is an expression in the imaginative terms of art of the stresses and tensions and conflicts, personal and spiritual, of nineteenth-century capitalist society. The characters of Wuthering Heights embody the extreme love and extreme hate of the humanity.
Introduction of the auther
Emily Jane Bronte was the most solitary member of a unique, tightly knit, English provincial family. Born in 1818, she shared the parsonage of the town of Haworth, Yorkshire, with her older sister, Charlotte, her brother Branwell, her younger sister, Anne, and her father, the Reverend, Patrick Bronte. All five were poets and writers; all but Branwell would publish at least one book.
Fantasy was the Bronte children’s one relief from the rigors of religion and the bleakness of life in an improverished region; they invented a series of imaginary kingdoms and constructed a whole library of journals stories, pomes, and plays around their inhabitants. Emily’s special province was a kingdom she called Gondal, whose romantic heroes and exiles owed much to the poems of Byron. Brief stays at several boarding schools were the sum of her experiences outside Haworth until 1842, when she entered a school in Brussels with her sister Charlotte.
After a year of study and teaching there, they felt qualified to announce the opening of a school in their own home, but could not attract a single pupil. In 1845 Charlotte Bronte came across a manuscript volumn of her sister’s poems. She knew at once, she later wrote, that they were “not at all like the poetry women generally write… they had a peculiar music-wild, melancholy, and elevating. ” At her sister’s urging, Emily’s poems along with Anne’s and Charlotte’s, were published pseudonymously in 1846.
An almost complete silence greeted this volume, but the three sisters, buoyed by the fact of publication, immediately began to write novels. Emily’s effort was WUTHERING HEIGHTS; appearing in 1847, it was treated at first as a lesser work by Charlotte, whose JANE EYRE had already been published to great acclaim. Emily Bronte’s name did not emerge from behind her pseudonym of Ellis Bell until the second edition of her novel appeared in 1850. In the meantime, tragedy had struck the Bronte family. In Septermber of 1848 Branwell had succumbed to a life of dissipation.
By December, after a brief illness, Emily too was dead; her sister Anne would die the next year. WUTHERING HEIGHTS, Emily’s only novel, was just beginning to be understood as the wild and singular work of the world.
Introduction of the story
The beginning of the story was Mr. Lockwood’s visiting of Wuthering Heights. His amazement of Heathcliff’s surliness and curiosity of beautiful Catherine’s rudeness urged him to listen to a very strange and frightening love story from Nelly Dean. In the summer of 1771 Mr.
Earnshaw brought home an orphan later called Heathcliff he had found in Liverpool. This waif was persecuted by young Hindley, but deeply loved by his daughter Catherine. So there was contradiction between Hindley and Heathcliff since childhood. After the death of their parents and his own marriage, Hindley treated Heathcliff as a servant, but this was relieved by the pleasant times with Cathy. On one of their expeditions they reached Thrushcross Grange where she stayed as the Linton’s guest for several weeks. When she returned to the
Wuthering Heights, she was altered a lot: she had been deeply attracted by the dress, luxury of the Lintons, especially the handsome and gentle Edgar Linton. Although she still loved Heathcliff she could not compare Heathcliff’s snobbishness with the gentility of her new friends. Heathcliff was even more badly treated by Hindley after his wife’s death, which increased Heathcliff’s more anger. After overhearing part of Catherine’s conversation with Nelly that she would marry Edgar, Heathcliff could not bear the indignation and degradation and left Wuthering Heights.
Catherine’s conversation with Nelly was that if Heathcliff could remain, even though all else perished, she should still continue to be. She and Heathcliff belonged to the same kind. But Heathcliff didn’t hear it. So after Heathcliff’s leaving, Catherine was desperately ill and recovered by the care of Linton couple. Three years later Catherine was married to Edgar. Six months later, Heathcliff, a different man, appeared. Catherine was so pleased at the news. But out of her surprise Heathcliff took on his two-fold revenge, first on Hindley who had treated him so badly in the past, secondly he threatened Catherine to marry Linton.
Unfortunately Edgar’s sister Isabella fell in love with Heathcliff and Heathcliff married her out of love, but for the property of Thrush cross Grange. At the same time Catherine locked herself in the room because Edgar refused Heathcliff. The she became delirious from illness and had brain fever. Eventually she recovered but remained delicate. Edgar worried too much about Catherine’s health and emotion. Then Heathcliff and Catherine met again. There was a terrible scene between them. Both of them showed their anger and love to each other which worsened Catherine’s health.
Then two hours after her daughter — Cathy’s birth Catherine died. When Heathcliff got the news he was desperately sad. After Catherine’s death Isabella returned to Thrushcross Grange after three months with Heathcliff. Hindley died and Heathcliff took Wuthering Heights. Thirteen years later Isabella died, leaving her son Linton to Heathcliff, a weakling boy. Then Edgar Linton and young Linton died and so Heathcliff, Cathy and Hareton, an ill-assorted trio, were left at the Heights; while Thrush Grange was left to Lowood, to whom Nelly told the tale.
The story ended with the death of Heathcliff and the marriage of Hareton and Cathy. This was two generations’ love story. The first generation’s love was transcendental and the second generation’s love was earthy.
Introduction of social background
In Viction’s period, the rich are enormously proud of their success and property; the secular sense of hierarchy penetrates into the daily life of common people; money and property is nothing but everything. In literature, the smoky, threatening, miserable factory-towns were often represented in religious terms, and compared to hell.
The poet William Blake, writing near the turn of the nineteenth century, speaks of England’s “dark Satanic Mills. ” Therefore, under the control of this concept, the spirit of human is vehemently suppressed, and the humanity is cruelly twisted and deformed. At this time, Emily who has great rebelling spirit and strong desire of freedom, wrote WUTHERING HEIGHTS, disclosed the evilness of society. The work depicts how humanity was twisted, broken, band destroyed under the hand of violent devastation. But the great death is the steady faith of and yearns for happy life.
In the world reined by Heathcliff, the bud of love, coming from Hareton and Cathy, broke through the hard soil of hatred. The betrayal of love brings the twist of humanity but pure love cures the wound, consoles the injured heart, and saves the degenerated soul. Emily shows her positive attitude to the pure love and their destructibility of humanity.
Theme of the novel
Wuthering Heights, the creation of Emily Jane Bronte, depicts not a fantasy realm or the depths of hell. Rather, the novel focuses on two main characters’ battle with the restrictions of Victorian Society.
Social pressures and restrictive cultural confines exile Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff from the world and then from each other. Hate can’t make love disappear, and love is stronger than hate. Love Wuthering Heights is a love novel. It has praised human’s moral excellence, has attracted the will of the people’s darkness, unfolding the human with the common custom life and pursueing the fine mind. Love in the novel is manifested in many respects.
Earnshaw’s love for Heathcliff
Forty years ago Wuthering Heights was filled with light, warmth and happiness. Mr. Earnshaw, a farmer, lives happily with his boisterous children Catherine and Hindley. However, being a kind and generous fellow, he can’t help rescuing a starving wretch off on the streets of Liverpool, a gypsy child named Heathcliff. In time Heathcliff becomes one member of the family, loved by all except Hindley (who nurtures the feeling of being usurped). Thus it can be concluded that Earnshaw’s love for Heathcliff stems from sympathy.
Catherine’ love for Heathcliff
As a child, her father was too ill to reprimand the free spirited child, ‘who was too mischievous and wayward for a favorite. P46). Therefore, Catherine grew up among nature and lacked the sophistication of high society. Catherine removed herself from society and, “had ways with her such as I never saw a child take up before; she put all of us past our patience fifty times and oftener in a day; from the hour she came downstairs till the hour she went to bed, we had not a minute’s security that she wouldn’t be in mischief. Her spirits were always at high-water mark, her tongue always going–singing, laughing, and plaguing everyone who would not do the same. A wild, wicked slip she was–“(P51).
Catherine further disregarded social standards and remained friends with Heathcliff despite his degradation by Hindley, her brother. ‘Miss Cathy and he [Heathcliff] were now very thick; ’(P46) and she found her sole enjoyment in his companionship. Catherine grew up beside Heathcliff, ‘They both promised to grow up as rude as savages; the young master [Hindley] being entirely negligent how they behaved, ’(P57). During her formative years Catherine’s conduct did not reflect that of a young Lady, ‘but it was one of their chief amusements to run away to the moors in the morning and remain there all day, (P57).
Thus, Catherine’s behavior developed and rejected the ideals of an oppressive, over-bearing society, which in turn created isolation from the institutionalized world. Therefore, Catherine’s love for Heathcliff is pure, and Heathcliff’s love for Catherine is tinged with danger and violence.
Isabella’s love for Heathcliff
The first time when Isabella sees Heathcliff, attracted by the charming man, she falls in love with him. No matter how Catherine persuades her, she makes her mind to get married with Heathcliff. Her love for Heathcliff is pure. While, Heathcliff just uses Catherine’s sister-in-law Isabella Linton as a weapon, caring not for the poor lass.
Catherine’s love for Edgar
When Catherine and Heathcliff exist their private island unchecked until Catherine suffers an injury from the Linton’s bulldog. Forced to remain at Thrushcross Grange-the Linton’s home, which isolates Catherine from Heathcliff and her former world of reckless freedom. Living amongst the elegance of the Lintons transforms Catherine from a coarse youth into a delicate lady.
Her transformation alienates Heathcliff, her soul mate and the love of her life. Catherine fits into society like a square peg trying to fit in a round hole. However, she feels pressure to file her rough edges and marry Edgar Linton. All in all, it is the social pressures and restrictive cultural confines that force Catherine to pretend to fall in love with Edgar. However, Edgar loves Catherine with gracious and transquility. Hate In Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff is the protagonist. In his life, there is full of hate and revenge.
Happy is very far away from him. During his life, he is treated badly by everyone except old Nelly and Catherine. He loves Catherine, but Catherine forsakes him and marries Edgar. From then on, he starts to hate everyone and revenge everyone. At last, Heathcliff dies, his wish of revenge fails . In this novel, the point that attracts the view of the readers is not only the deep, fierce, and financial love between Heathcliff and Catherine, but also Heathcliff ‘s perfound hate and cruel revenge after losing his beloved woman. His hatred also influences others.
Heathcliff grows up as the foster child in the Earnshaw home and is regarded as an outcast by family members. His arrival at Wuthering Heights is marked by contempt and insults from every person in the family, except Catherine and old Mr. Earnshaw. Miss Catherine warmed up to the orphan and they soon became good friends. Mr. Earnshaw, ‘took to Heathcliff strangely,’ (P47) and esteemed the poor, fatherless child (P47) as the favorite of the three children. Hindley saw Heathcliff as the usurper of his father’s affections and his privileges, (P47).
The reason that Heathcliff’s lineage and position as the favorite of Mr. Earnshaw causes Hindley to push Heathcliff away and eventually exile him as a servant at Mr. Earnshaw’s death. What is worse, even Nelly consideres herself superior to Heathcliff. Her actions further exile Heathcliff from the Earnshaws’ company by treating him as inferior and sub-human. Both children, entirely refuse to have it in their bed with them or even in their room; and I [Nelly] had no more sense, so I put it on the landing of the stairs, hoping it might be gone by the morrow. (P47).
As an adult, Heathcliff experinced the torment of his childhood and felt he had been, treated … infernally-infernally! and if you [Catherine] fancy I’d suffer unrevenged, I’ll convince you of the contrary, (102-103). Heathcliff seeks to destroy those who severes the relationship between himself and Catherine. Catherine’s affection for her soul mate renewed at Heathcliff’s return to Wuthering Heights. In short, considering this historical context, Heathcliff seems to embody the anxieties that the book’s upper- and middle-class audience had about the working classes.
The reader may easily sympathize with him when he is powerless, as a child tyrannized by Hindley Earnshaw, but he becomes a villain when he acquires power and returns to Wuthering Heights with money and the trappings of a gentleman. This corresponds with the ambivalence the upper classes felt toward the lower classes—the upper classes had charitable impulses toward lower-class citizens when they were miserable, but feared the prospect of the lower classes trying to escape their miserable circumstances by acquiring political, social, cultural, or economic power.
When Isabella knows what Heathcliff really is. She starts to torture other people around her. For example Isabella is beginning to enjoy seeing others suffer. After the incident between Hindley and Heathcliff, Isabella is happy to see Heathcliff looking upset, and she taunts him about Catherine until he cries. Her cruel words lead to a cruel act, just as she previously feared Heathcliff impeaches her with a knife. The bigger surprise about Isabella is that she throws it back at him, hoping to wound him. What is worse, Linton becomes hysterical and had a terrible coughing after being forced from the living room. Cathy still blames Hareton, and she hits him with her whip as she leaves.
Love tragedy. Catherine’s beauty
Appearance is very important to everyone, especially to a girl, even in the Victorian period. During this period, most women were deprived of any education opportunities, so they didn’t know how to culture their inner talent. They didn’t know how to show themselves to others. Then the most important way to get admiration from others was their beauty. Of course we cannot say an ordinary girl who was born in a poor family could not have happiness.
The vital point is how to cultivate and display their beauty. While Catherine, an attractive girl since her childhood, could not control her fate and ended with death tragedy. When she is a child, she is loved by everyone. She is naughty, bad tempered and always making a lot of mistakes to get others into trouble. But people can pardon her. “A wild, wick slip she was-but she had the bonniest eye, and sweetest smile, and lightest foot in the parish” (P51). When people know her make some mistakes not on purpose, Catherine’s tenderness and sweet smile could compensate for it.
She is a pearl in her father’s eyes, she could say bad words to her maid and quarrel with her father. But she is so lovely, so pleasant, so nobody wants to make life hard for her. When she is a little older, she is the center no matter where she goes. At Thrushcross Grange, she is complimented by everyone. Catherine is called a beauty with natural advantages. When she wants to eat, the maid will prepare. When she wants to play, Heathcliff and Edgar would accompany. When she wants to beautify herself, her parents would buy a lot of beautiful clothes. But on the other hand, all the people’s love spoils her.
She likes to play with Heathcliff but after returning from Thrushcross, she begins to feel low staying and playing with Heathcliff. Nelly takes good care of her all the time, but she would give a slap to her if she is not pleased. To Catherine, the good living environment and beauty deprive her time of thinking of hardships and others’ feeling. We cannot say Catherine is a bad girl, but we are clear that she thinks too much of her advantages and so little of others. Her advantage is her beauty and her noble birth; her disadvantage is that she never tries to cultivate her inner beauty.
This lack of inner beauty and thought goes a step further when she gets attraction from Edgar. When she goes to Thrushcross Grange, what attracts Edgar deeply is her beauty. Catherine’s vivacity and sweet smile impresses Edgar deeply. So despite of Catherine’s bad temper, she is still loved by Edgar. Even after Catherine’s rudeness, Linton is still deceived into his own dream. He is so deeply attracted by Catherine’s appearance and her disposition so that he ignores all Catherine’s shortcomings. This is totally different from Jane. But she knows how to display her virtues and how to gain others’ admiration.
Catherine’s beauty lies in her appearance, and makes herself self-compliment, others’ compliment urges Catherine to take every adventure no matter what bad results are waiting for her. If Catherine is not so beautiful and lovely she could not keep all the persons her company. She could experience the feeling of frustration that is very important to her later life and choice. We cannot deny that Catherine was a very lovely girl since her childhood. But we cannot omit that she never uses her intelligence properly, for everything can be solved without her thinking of it. If she was a little reasonable, she could not meet her early death.
Of course we cannot say appearance is of too much importance, but it really plays the role. Catherine, depending on her lively character and sweet smile, gets admiration and love from others very easily. But this doesn’t last long due to her foolishness. She finally loses everything and at the same time also makes others miserable.
Catherine’s family background
Family is the first place when people come to this world. Different family will determine or influence one’s character and one’s fate to some extent. If a child was born in a good family: rich and harmonious, she would be full of wonderful dreams toward life.
But at the same time she would seldom experience hardships of life, which will be inevitable and important in his later life. So she would not be brave enough and capable enough to deal with all kinds of difficulties. But if a child were born in a poor family, he would be always in a poor physical condition. At the same time, she would become bearable to those difficulties that come out in his later life. It can be said that her childhood she was a flowerin the green house. She was born in a rich family and tenderly loved and looked after by all the family members. She is very energetic and mischievous.
Different from most other girls, she is very naughty and full of fantastic ideas. When her father had a journey she asked for a whip for riding horse. She is wild, wanting to control others. Once she learned that the master had lost her whip in attending on the stranger, she would show her anger by grinning and spitting at the stupid little thing. Even before her father’s death, she couldn’t keep quiet. When her father asked her why she could not be a good girl, she confronted why he could not be a good father. She was not obedient to her father. This is understandable.
Her father loves this girl and even indulges her so she is very confident of herself. She knows very clearly that she is a princess in the family. No matter what she wants, she could be granted. So she will never know there would be children who could be maltreated by others. If Jane’s strong-will and bravery come from frustration and failure, then Catherine’s indifference and caprice breed in indulgence and spoiling. The more love she gets, the more she would become indifferent of others’ love. Catherine was very lucky. She was always ready to make others angry, even though sometimes not on purpose.
She was not scolded and browbeaten by others. This increased her wicked idea and confidence of herself. At the same time, she didn’t know how to be considerate of others’ feelings. She could not bear others’ indifference and disobedience. She wanted to be a dominator. She will never imagine if she lost everything especially material things, how could she live? So when she chose to marry Edgar, she put the material the first importance, which led her final tragedy. Catherine would never conform to any tradition and accept others’ blame. To her male friend Heathcliff, she didn’t know how to avoid hurting him.
She loved Heathcliff since her childhood. Staying with Heathcliff, she would feel very happy. But she still didn’t treasure their friendship. After she went to Thrushcross Grange she began to look down upon Heathcliff. Catherine has a very comfortable and protected childhood. She grows out of the perverse will. Her family is so kind to her so she will never think of being sent to a far away place. Then she is deprived chance of education. She will never be sensible enough: to tell right from wrong. She doesn’t have enough ability to solve all kinds of problems that are inevitable in her life.
She is complimented and affected in her family, so once Heathcliff never shows his love as before, she could not accept the fact. She is so dependent on her family, on her father.
Love beats revenge. Heathcliff
Heathcliff is seemingly a devil or a brute, merciless, revengeful, full of hatred and hostility. But in reality ,he also has feelings ,just like any of us. All he has done is only out of his permanent love for Catherine, and his wild behavior is the reflection of his twisted and hardened heart. After Catherine’s death, he dies quietly.
Catherine’s female consciousness experiences suppression, denial, awakening and destruction course. When she is a child, her self-consciousness is suppressed and not awakened. All the family members take it for granted she should be taken good care of. The more her parents indulge her, the more she feels she is lost. Then later she would be accustomed to such a dull and peaceful life naturally. Her disobedience and neglect of others result from this practical family dynamics.
For Catherine, this defiance and violence that seem impolite and rude come from her need to be regarded as an independent ntegrity. When her father died she didn’t even grieve. She has in some part of herself hopes that after her father’s death she could get rid of the stress coming from this patriarchal family and this dull life, which has been clouding her free mind. But she could not because her brother becomes her second “father “who deprives her freedom and love. So Catherine could not change her state. The longer she lives in this environment, the less integrity she could keep. At last she doesn’t know what she really needs in her heart. This childhood sojourn influences her later life greatly:
Her visit to Grange has brought about changes in her that affect all her life and many others’ life. She becomes aware of the gulf between herself and Heathcliff for the first time. And now she put hers female need aside and chooses her material need. As she is very young she doesn’t know what is the bad result of this lack of love and understanding. From then on, her life will be smooth but lack of love.
In fact “The spiritual bond between Catherine and Heathcliff is clearly shown. Despite this, she is to betray Heathcliff and her own nature by accepting he superficial values of the Lintons” (Hillegass P29). Here Catherine’s double character is fully displayed. After Heathcliff’s departure she is ill. This illness is both physical and mental, which indicates her beginning of the spiritual breakdown. Now we are clear of her inner conflict and what she really needs. But contrary to our expectation she finally marries Edgar and denies her true nature. What influences her choice? The most important reason is her family and education. The lack of education could not enable her to fully realize her potential and needs. Her choice of Edgar as a husband meets her demand as a goodness figure, her need to shine, to climb up to the social ladder.
She gives up the chance when she could make her own decision and use her own reason. So this time her consciousness is denied instead of suppressed. She doesn’t understand rationally the meaning or the impact of such foolish choice on her psyche; yet intuitively she knows that she is hurting herself and denying herself. To other people their marriage is ideal. One is beautiful; the other is handsome and rich. It’s Edgar’s love that suppresses Catherine’s anger. Staying with him is like playing with something inanimate. The longer she stays with Edgar, the more such feeling she would have.
As a girl, she needs to be loved and also she wants to share her love and release them to others. Too much protection urges her to rebel, to have a more independent and more interesting life. Catherine begins to realize that material abundance cannot make up her spiritual void. Her inner heart calls for love and understanding. She wants someone to share with her sorrow and happiness. Her face turns from pale to red and her heart becomes light, when Heathcliff’s coming back. She realizes that Heathcliff is really her need. She wants to come back to her former life with Heathcliff. But it is too late.
The time her consciousness is fully awakened is the climax of her tragedy. She must pay a lot for her earlier mistakes. Heathcliff’s coming back also put Catherine on the way of her breakdown and early death. One is her Husband who loves her deeply; the other is her love that could bring the hope of life to her. How to balance these two needs. The absolute contradiction between Heathcliff and Edgar cannot be solved. In order to arouse both of their feeling, she refuses to have any food and she hopes that her death could release her from this misery and enable her to live together with her lover.
This refusal to eat anything is a further destruction on her weak health. It is definite that her health is damaged beyond recovery and she has become devoted to the destruction of herself. The thing that irks me most is this shattered prison, after all. I’m tired, tired of being enclosed here. I’m wearying to escape into that glorious world, and to be always there; not seeing it dimly through tears, and yearning for it through the walls of an aching hear; but really with it, and in it. Nelly, you think you are better and more fortunate than I; in full health and strength —you are sorry for me — very soon that will be altered.
I shall be sorry for you. I shall be incomparably beyond and above you all. (P160) Finally Catherine meets her death, maybe with a beautiful dream: that one day Heathcliff would come to her grave and tell her he has been loving her all the time. Catherine could only pursue and get her true love the next life. Why Catherine’s feminist consciousness could not be fully realized? Her strong character and lack of formal education play the role. From the beginning to the end Catherine decides her matters and solves all the problems only out of her intuition instead of reason.
Her rude manners to her maid, her tease of others, her cruelty to Heathcliff, her love to Edgar, all these ideas come from her own narrow mind. She never thinks it very carefully whether it is wrong or not. Her education is fragmental and lady like. She has not any frustration. The lack of working experience and education enables her to take everything for granted. She takes it for granted that female is dependent on male. Since her childhood she depends on her parents. When she grows up she tries to find a rich husband. She regards herself as a foil to both her father and her husband.
She has been living in her daydream most of the time. She never knows how to cultivate her inner needs. So it is inevitable that she would have a tragic death.
After reading Wuthering Heights, our heart would sink. Why? We see a beautiful lady’s ruin from a lovable and attractive lady into an upset and miserable ghost, floating in the deserted forest. We could not help shedding our tears on her. We are sympathetic with her because her beauty and love are not well cultivated. We are angry since she takes away the happiness of two gentlemen who both love her deeply.
We also hate her for she leaves a girl child Cathy lonely in this world. But what changes her life? Who leads her to the death road? It’s Catherine herself, her vanity and ignorance. Happiness and integrity is everyone’s goal. It is possible for everyone especially lovers to achieve their wholeness. But the most important is that they must combine their pursuit with their social and family background.