Wuthering Heights Pamela Walker ENG130-2 April 16, 2011 Anna Kudak Wuthering Heights is the only novel written by Emily Bronte. Many have called Wuthering Heights a love story. Others have called the novel a story of hatred, cruelty, and vengeance. Wuthering Heights is all these. Wuthering Heights is a novel about the love a woman has for two men. Wuthering Heights is the story of two old manors, Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. It is the story of two families, the Earnshaws and the Lintons and a story of two generations.
Additionally, Wuthering Heights is a story of opposing emotions, the despair and doom of the first generation and hope, peace, and joy of the second. Wuthering Heights is a novel of juxtaposed pairs. One of the first pairs mentioned in the novel are the old manors. Much like the other pairs described in the story, each of these manors represent opposite images. Wuthering Heights symbolizes anger, jealousy, hatred, and retribution. This would aptly describe the occupants of Wuthering Heights particularly with regard to Heathcliff and Hindley. Bronte, through the narrator Mr.
Lockwood, describes Wuthering Heights as an isolated manor set atop a hill where the wind must blow frequently (Bronte, 2002). We know this because the surrounding trees are bent over (Bronte, 2002). The reader imagines the manor as dark and dank and Lockwood notices the small windows set deeply in the walls (Bronte, 2002). There is a muddy marsh which separates Wuthering Heights from Thrushcross Grange (Bronte, 2002). Thrushcross Grange, in contrast to the bleak exposed farmhouse on the heights, is situated in the valley with none of the grim features of Heathcliff’s home. Even though Thrushcross Grange is solated as Wuthering Heights is, Wuthering Heights represents storm while Thrushcross Grange represents calm. And like Wuthering Heights, Thrushcross Grange symbolizes those that reside there (Bronte, 2002). Thrushcross Grange is filled with light and warmth. This is an appropriate home for the children of the calm, Isabella and Edgar. They are educated, upper class people. They are civilized, cultured, and proper. The opposite of those living at Wuthering Heights (Bronte, 2002). The narrators of the story represent yet another pair, Ellen Dean (Nelly) and Mr. Lockwood (Bronte, 2002). Mr.
Lockwood begins the narration as he relates his initial visit to Wuthering Heights (Bronte, 2002). Not long after, Nelly takes over the narration as she shares the history of Wuthering Heights, its current and past residents, with Mr. Lockwood (Bronte, 2002). Nelly grew up at Wuthering Heights and grew up with Catherine and Hindley (Bronte, 2002). This makes Nelly more than just a narrator as she is an integral part of the story. In fact, Nelly has on occasion manipulated some of the characters by withholding information and keeping secrets (Shmoop University, 2011). Nelly is not an unbiased narrator (Shmoop University, 2011). Mr.
Lockwood though he may be unbiased, is not necessarily reliable. He misjudges and makes assumptions regarding those residing at Wuthering Heights which are incorrect (Shmoop University, 2011). He appears awkward and at times not terribly intelligent (Bronte, 2002). “Wuthering Heights” is Lockwood’s journal, part his own observation and experience and part what Nelly relates to him. Also included in the story are the two generations. The story spans roughly 30 years and begins with the childhoods of Catherine and her brother Hindley. Their father, Mr. Earnshaw, brings a young boy home from one of his business trips (Bronte, 2002).
Until this point in the story all the characters appear quite happy (Bronte, 2002). This is when Heathcliff is introduced to Wuthering Heights and things take a turn (Bronte, 2002). Mr. Earnshaw quite favors Heathcliff. Hindley hates Heathcliff and is jealous of him as he believes Heathcliff has stolen his father’s affections (Bronte, 2002). That Heathcliff and Catherine become best friends, inseparable, cannot help (Bronte, 2002). Another cast of characters from the first generation are Isabella and Edgar. Both are pampered and privileged, the opposite of Catherine, Hindley, and Heathcliff (Bronte, 2002).
Heathcliff is dark and described as very masculine while Edgar is refined and not nearly so (Bronte, 2002). Isabella is childlike and spoiled (Bronte, 2002). Catherine is unruly, a wild child (Shmoop University, 2011). This is the first generation. The second generation completes this pair. They are the children of the first. Specifically, young Catherine is the daughter of the elder Catherine and Edgar (Bronte, 2002). Linton is the son of Heathcliff and Isabella (Bronte, 2002). And Hareton is the son of Hindley and Frances (Bronte, 2002). All three children inherited many of the character traits of their parents, the good and the bad.
Unlike their parents, Hareton and Catherine found happiness and grew to become decent caring people. Linton died at a young age, just like his mother. There are other pairs or opposing forces. Hareton begins his life under tragic circumstances. His mother dies when he is very young (Bronte, 2002). His father becomes a drunk and is completely disinterested and wants nothing to do with him (Bronte, 2002). Hareton falls victim to Heathcliff and his need for revenge (Bronte, 2002). He receives no education and is treated as a servant (Bronte, 2002). Even so, his story has a happy ending.
He becomes a caring and compassionate person, a good friend to young Catherine (Bronte, 2002). She teaches him how to read (Bronte, 2002). Eventually they become lovers (Bronte, 2002). By contrast, Heathcliff’s life is somewhat opposite. His early years, as an orphan, were undoubtedly difficult and harsh. But he was rescued by Mr. Earnshaw and soon became the favored son (Bronte, 2002). He received education, was privileged, and found a best friend in Catherine (Bronte, 2002). Through a series of events which began with Mr. Earnshaw’s death, his circumstance changed drastically (Bronte, 2002).
As a result, he became bitter, mean, and vengeful (Bronte, 2002). He lived to bring misery, pain, and suffering to all that had hurt him and many that had not (Bronte, 2002). His life was the opposite of Hareton’s. The first generation appears self destructive and in a downward spiral. The next generation improves and actually manages to attain happiness and some peace in their lives. Then there are the two loves of Catherine’s life, Heathcliff and Edgar. Catherine’s love for Heathcliff catalyzes a severe inner conflict leading her to a decision that plagues the rest of her life.
Catherine knows that she loves Heathcliff, as she confides to Nelly. “My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath – he’s always, always in my mind – not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself… ” (Bronte, 2002, p. 64). Heathcliff, though not so vocal about his feelings, clearly loves Catherine in an equally strong way (Bronte, 2002). Though Catherine feels that marrying a wealthy, educated, socially adept man such as Edgar is the most advantageous path for her, she also knows that the nuptial cannot separate the intense compassion between her and Heathcliff (Bronte, 2002).
This decision concurrently marks the commencement of Heathcliff’s plan for revenge, which begins to unfold following Catherine’s announcement to marry Edgar (Bronte, 2002). Heathcliff’s quest for revenge over everyone who has wronged him unquestionably influences more characters than any other aspect of the novel. Quickly after returning to Wuthering Heights following his unexplained three year absence, Heathcliff begins his mission by moving in with Hindley (Bronte, 2002). He subsidizes Hindley’s affection for alcohol and teaches Hindley’s son Hareton to turn against his father (Bronte, 2002).
Thus, Heathcliff has already started to exact his revenge on Hindley who is clearly becoming a weaker character (Bronte, 2002). Copying Hindley’s treatment of Heathcliff upon Mr. Earnshaw’s death, Heathcliff prohibits Hareton’s tutor from coming to Wuthering Heights, and consequently deprives Hareton of an education (Bronte, 2002). Hareton crudely implies the treatment that Heathcliff has given him during his dialogue with Nelly on her trip past the Heights. “No, I was told the curate should have his teeth dashed down his throat if he stepped over the threshold – Heathcliff has promised that! ” (Bronte, 2002, p. 86).
This form of revenge on Hindley parallels the way in which Hindley abused Heathcliff, and proves to be a highly effective method of waging revenge on his original abusers. On a tangible level, one could argue that Heathcliff has simply become the product of his upbringing, The argument could be made this is the only way Heathcliff knows to treat people. However, as other aspects of his presence at Wuthering Heights would suggest, Heathcliff’s quest for revenge runs far deeper than simply reciprocating the cruelty that Hindley inflicted on his childhood. There additionally are the two women in Heathcliff’s life, Isabella and Catherine.
While slowly destroying Hindley’s existence, Heathcliff also begins to take steps toward exacting his revenge against Edgar, the man who took Catherine away (Bronte, 2002). Isabella, Edgar Linton’s sister, eventually begins to take an interest in Heathcliff (Bronte, 2002). Heathcliff, capitalizing on Isabella’s blind attraction, pretends to be enamored in return (Bronte, 2002). Isabella believes they are falling in love (Bronte, 2002). Isabella, convincing herself that she loves Heathcliff, allows Heathcliff to use her as a tool to exact his revenge on the Linton family (Bronte, 2002).
Heathcliff begins to systematically torture Isabella (Bronte, 2002). “I assure you, a tiger, or a venomous serpent could not rouse terror I me equal to that which he wakens,” (Bronte, 2006, p. 112) Isabella writes to Nelly. As his plan falls into place, Heathcliff’s marriage to Isabella leads to her estrangement from her brother, Edgar (Bronte, 2002). By this time Edgar has realized his wife Catherine is actually in love with Heathcliff (Bronte, 2002). Heathcliff’s steps towards vengeance over everyone he feels has wronged him progresses quite efficiently through his marriage to Isabella (Bronte, 2002).
By marrying Isabella, Heathcliff estranges her from Edgar (Bronte, 2002). By abusing her as he does, he strikes a blow at the upper class persona which has hurt him in the past (Bronte, 2002). Additionally, as a result of Heathcliff and Catherine’s feelings for one another, Edgar forces an ultimatum on Catherine (Bronte, 2002). Choose between them, Edgar or Heathcliff. Catherine becomes ill and subsequently dies. Catherine’s death marks the end of the first phase of Heathcliff’s crusade for revenge, and he soon begins the next.
Some of the characteristics known of Emily Bronte are shared by the main character Catherine (Tallman). She loved the moors, she enjoyed the outdoors, and additionally held her own opinions and was not afraid to express them (Tallman). Perhaps she drew on her own life experiences then used her vivid imagination to fill in the remainder and create the cast of characters in Wuthering Heights (Tallman). We do know the central theme is her sense of opposing forces; calm versus storm, need versus want, nature versus culture (Whitman, 2003).
When the reader examines the backgrounds and characteristics of the people in the two families, the Earnshaws and the Lintons, it is obvious the two separate houses represent opposing worlds and values. The Earnshaws are wild, volatile, and strong while the Lintons are genteel, calm and delicate. It is clear that Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights” is a novel of opposing forces and pairs. This ends up being the driving force of the novel. References Bronte, E. (2002). Wuthering Heights (4th ed. ). W. W. Norton & Company. Emily Bronte, (2011, March 9). Retrieved on April 11, 2011 from http://academic. rooklyn. cuny. edu/english/melani/novel_19c/wuthering/index. html Kirszner, L. , & Mandell, S. , (2010). Compact Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing (7th ed. ). Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. Shmoop University, (2011). Retrieved on April 11, 2011 from http://www. shmoop. com/wuthering-heights/ellen-nelly-dean. html Tallman, M. VictoriasPast. com Retrieved on April 10, 2011 from http://www. victoriaspast. com/EmilyBronte/listenplease. html Whitman, R. , (2003, March 12). Black and White in Wuthering Heights. Retrieved on April 17, 2011 from http://www. rosalindwhitman. com/