Bronte’s novel Wuthering Heights is seen by many as one of the greatest love stories of all time.
A conventional love story usually includes two central, balanced characters who love each other equally. Although on first glance, Wuthering Heights may not seen like a conventional love story, it actually does feature some of the major themes of a love story, but simply demonstrates them on a more sinister level, with a mixture of violence, gothic fantasy and horror. Bronte explores different aspects of love through a range of methods, and from numerous perspectives, including religious, maternal, romantic and transcendent.
In central relationship, between Catherine and Heathcliff, Bronte fuses the themes of idealized romance and gothic horror together.
When Heathcliff first arrives at Wuthering Heights he is dirty, ragged and homeless, a portrayal which makes him an unlikely Byronic hero within the novel. This later changes, when he is portrayed as brutal, melancholic and powerful. The reader is given the impression that Heathcliff’s love for Catherine is passionate but he doesn’t know how to show it.
Neither of them seem willing to admit to wanting to be together because deep down they know it will not work.
There is a major problem with identity between Catherine and Heathcliff, as there are thoughts of them being the same person – “I love.. not because he is handsome, but because he is more myself than I am. ” Catherine struggles with two conflicting ideas of selfhood – she tries to combine a passionate life with a life which remains within social convention.
Her view that she IS Heathcliff is unlikely to provide her with any stability as Heathcliff is such an unpredictable and uncertain person.This lack of stability she feels within her self is also a feeling which casts a shadow over their love. Catherine eventually moves towards the more cultured identity, whilst Heathcliff regresses into nature. Regardless of the underlying feeling that the relationship is an impossibility, Heathcliff’s intense passion still shines though.
It actually trangresses a variety of social taboos, highlighting how to love in the novel is in fact explored through some of the most profound acts of violence.Their love turns into a jealous love, which undermines the stereotypical conventions cast upon love stories. The love becomes extremely corrupted. Bronte’s characters and their conduct is often unsavory and undesirable, which many people will find difficult to link with love, as many people have the antiquated belief that love should be perfect.
However, the love between Catherine and Heathcliff continues even after their marriages and deaths. Their love is portrayed as one endures forever – it is everlasting.This passion is obviously one of the most compelling and memorable aspects of the entire novel, as it seems powerful and boundless. The relationship between Catherine and Edgar is contrasting – it is very artificial, there is no passion.
Catherine clearly loves Edgar for his possesions and lifestyle rather than him as a person – “I love the ground under his feet, and the air over his head, and everything he touches. ” Nelly also points out Catherine’s materialistic view of marriage, suggesting that she only loves Edgar because he is rich.Edgar seems invisible to Cathy – she is attempting to split herself in two by forcing herself into a world that is not her. The love between Edgar and Cathy is extremely unbalanced, again going against conventions of a love story.
Edgar allows Catherine to treat him badly – she exploits her relationship by playing Edgar and Heathcliff off one another. Edgar and Heathcliff are so contrasting – Edgar represents everything Heathcliff is not – he represents the world of conventional morality. Many see Edgar as extremely effeminate compared to the strong tones of masculinity associated with Heathcliff.Cathy is unable to reconcile her passion towards Heathcliff with her marriage to Edgar to the extent where she resorts to self-destruction, refusing food, willfully exposing herself to a chill, and eventually dying through childbirth.
Frances and Hindley, however, do seem to have a conventional, true and honest love. Frances seems to change Hindley as a person on his return to the heights. When she becomes ill, hindley refuses to accept she is dying, and her last actions before her death signify their bond and dependence on each other – “she put her two hands around his neck. Her death has an extremely negative effect on Hindley, who resorts to alcoholism and the abandonment of his own son (who as a result appears mentally scarred.
)However, the love between Frances and Hindley lacks much description or emotion within the novel – it is not central to the plot as it is barely elaborated upon. This may be the reason why is comes across as the only genuine love within the novel – the lack of description makes it seem less contrived – it meets the conventions of love. Whether or not Wuthering Heights is the greatest love story of all time is down to personal opinion.Many people strongly believe that Brontes exploration of love from many different angles, shows the novel as not just a simple love story, but one about love, hate, rejection, jealously, and the majority of complex emotions we can experience.
The entire novel revolves around the barbaric impulses of the characters – some may find this difficult to link with love as they only interpret love in a conventional way, whilst other people may see this as a realistic interpretation of society – we can not go through life with an idealistic view on things.Although the love in Wuthering Heights seemed unconventional in many ways, and is explored through the profoundest acts of violence, there is not doubting the level of sheer passion that is portrayed throughout the novel. If the reader is able to see past stereotypes and conventions, then the novel’s attraction as a love story will not be at all difficult to understand..
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