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Love and revenge in Emily Bronte's "Wuthering Heights"

Love and revenge in Emily Bronte's "Wuthering Heights"



My essay for my English Literature Class on the topic "Discuss revenge in Emily Brontë’s "Wuthering Heights". In what way is the love connected? What is the nature of love in the novel, that it can ...

My essay for my English Literature Class on the topic "Discuss revenge in Emily Brontë’s "Wuthering Heights". In what way is the love connected? What is the nature of love in the novel, that it can be so closely connected to vengeance?". Quotes included



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    Love and revenge in Emily Bronte's "Wuthering Heights" Love and revenge in Emily Bronte's "Wuthering Heights" Document Transcript

    • Running Head: LOVE AND REVENGE IN WUTHERING HEIGHTSDiscuss revenge in Emily Brontë’s "Wuthering Heights". In what way is the love connected?What is the nature of love in the novel, that it can be so closely connected to vengeance?KlimentSerafimovCourse: English LiteratureSchool: Maximilian BerlitzDate: 06.05.2013
    • LOVE AND REVENGE IN WUTHERING HEIGHTS 2Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights” (1847) is a book about love that transcends death andrevenge that spans over generations. In the book, the protagonist, the character on which theentire plot centers, and the man from which all the conflicts arise, namely Heathcliff, isconsumed by his love for Catherine and by his hate for Hindley, who humiliated him all his life.These two main feelings give rise to all the other relationships in the novel and determine howthey will evolve. Emily Brontë’s mastery of the tensions and conflicts in the novel and her abilityto construct complex and believable characters made her novel famous. However, what her onlynovel is best known for, is the intense and consuming passion that characterizes many of thecharacters, and Heathcliff in particular. This incurable passion is the source of both desire andaggressiveness in “Wuthering Heights”, and the reason for which revenge and love are soughtwith the same restlessness. The present paper thus argues that revenge and love areinterconnected in the novel because they have the same source, namely the characters’ passionatetemperaments.The first intense feelings in the novel, besides the strong attachment between Heathcliffand Catherine, are those felt by HindleyEearnshaw ever since the arrival of Heathcliff atWuthering Heights. Hindley’s feelings of hatred towards Heathcliff are determined by hisjealousy, since he feels that his father favored the orphan Heathcliff and disregarded him, hisnatural son. As a result, his jealousy governed his actions and made him want to humiliateHeathcliff as much as possible. Even after many years since his father’s death,“He [Hindley] has been blaming our father (how dared he?)for treating H. [Heathcliff]too liberally; and swears he will reduce him to his right place” (p. 22).
    • LOVE AND REVENGE IN WUTHERING HEIGHTS 3This attitude suggests that Hindley’s jealousy did not cease and that it consumes the character.Hindley will try to revenge on Heathcliff for having intervened between himself and his fatherby treating Heathcliff as poorly as he can.Heathcliff does not remain passive to this flow of hatred and he swears to revenge all thehumiliations and suffering Hindley put him through. Even if he is just a boy, he confesses that:“I’m trying to settle down how I shall pay Hindley back. I don’t care how long I wait, if Ican only do it at last. I hope he will not die before I do” (p. 65).This refers to an incident when Heathcliff is humiliated in public and even more, in front of hisrival Edgar Linton. It shows Heathcliff’s determination and has a prophetic value, particularly ifone thinks of the outcome of this early conflict. Therefore, even in this, one can perceive how thecompetition for the love of a father, continues even after death and destroys the relationship ofthese two men. Likewise, the love for Catherine that both Edgar and Heathcliff feel, and theirrivalry, will dominate the greatest part of the novel, and will continue even after her death.In the Heathcliff-Catherine-Edgar trio, Edgar becomes the intruder. Heathcliff andCatherine are best friends since childhood and are very fond of each other. Their relationshiponly breaks when Edgar enters into their world. Edgar, with his fine manners and his superiorsocial statute, represents a better choice for Catherine, who begins to love him too. Theirs is apassionate love, no less intense than that which slowly grew between her and Heathcliff. Thus, asthey became more and more attracted to each other, they come to confess their love:“Ah, I thought, there will be no saving him: hes doomed, and flies to his fate! . . . I sawthe quarrel had merely effected a closer intimacy – had broken the outworks of youthful
    • LOVE AND REVENGE IN WUTHERING HEIGHTS 4timidity, and enabled them to forsake the disguise of friendship, and confess themselveslovers” (p.78).This love is a combination of desire and of illusion, because Catherine loves Edgar for all thethings she could become next to him, whereas for Edgar’s love for Catherine is born of herdomineering character and her imposing personality.Catherine does feel attracted to Edgar, although it is more a love much inferior to the oneshe feels for Heathcliff, for whom she has a spiritual type of bond that goes far beyond the merephysical attraction. This is proved when Catherine confesses her feelings to Nelly. She says that:“My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change It, I am well aware,as winter changes the trees. Nelly, I amHeathcliff! Hes always, always in my mind: notas a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being”(p.89).Catherine’s relationship with Heathcliff is so profound that she feels she is part of him. Shecannot choose not to love him, as he is so much a part of herself that giving this feeling up wouldbe like giving up a part of herself.Nevertheless, despite feeling an intense love for Heathcliff, and of knowing that he tooloves her passionately, Catherine chooses not to marry him but to accept Edgar’s propositioninstead. She also explains this decision to Nelly:“It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him:and that, not because hes handsome, Nelly, but because hes more myself than I am.
    • LOVE AND REVENGE IN WUTHERING HEIGHTS 5Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same; and Lintons is as different asa moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire”(p. 87).Therefore, her decision is made with her brain, not with her heart, choosing social status andfinancial security instead of following her heart. This is not uncommon for the eighteenthcentury, when the action takes place. This was, in fact, expected for young girls, and it was theway that most marriages were arranged. However, in this novel, this decision is shown by theauthor to be a wrong one, as it will cause much suffering for all the characters involved.Heathcliff’s existence after Catherine’s abandonment was only driven by his thirst torevenge against Edgar for the loss of Catherine. Heatchcliff could never get his life back ontrack, although he did marry and had a son. He explains that:“Two words would comprehend my future – death and hell: existence, after losing her,would be hell. Yet I was a fool to fancy for a moment that she valued Edgar Lintonsattachment more than mine. If he loved with all the powers of his puny being, he couldntlove as much in eighty years as I could in a day” (p. 163).Such passionate love could only lead to passionate hatred, and desire to revenge on the one whocaused Catherine’s betrayal. Heathciff does not try to revenge on Catherine, who betrayed him,so his love for her does not transform into hatred, it remains steady and does not change. Hehowever will attempt all his life to revenge on Edgar.For this reason, he marries Isabella, in order to punish Edgar for what he had done. Edgaris indeed in deep distress over his sister’s crush and does not accept this love. Isabella, who haddespised Heathcliff as a young girl, now sees him as a romantic figure and idealizes him.
    • LOVE AND REVENGE IN WUTHERING HEIGHTS 6Heathcliff’s feelings for her are nevertheless inexistent, even though they do have a son, Linton,whom Heathcliff will meet years later. Heatchliff does not ignore Hindley either and makes useof his alcoholism to acquire Wuthering Heights for himself. Therefore, in both cases,Heathcliff’s revenge is caused by feelings of jealousy, even though in Hindley’s case, he was theone who had been jealous of Heatchcliff, and mistreated him as a result.The couple Heathcliff - Catherine will not be able to demonstrate their everlasting,obsessive love for each other until her last moments. In their last encounter, Heatchcliffdemonstrates not only that he did not forget her, but also, that he did not try to revenge on her forhis sufferings, although she is the main culpable. Thus, he asks her:“Kiss me again, but dont let me see your eyes! I forgive what you have done to me. Ilove my murderer-but yours! How can I?" (p. 177).He calls her his murderer because his devouring love for her left him empty inside. Catherine’smurderer is Edgar, in Heathcliff’s view. Thus, by accusing him of Catherine’s death, he hasanother reason to hate him and try to revenge against him, apart from jealousy. This addedreason also has to do with his love for Catherine, and with his passionate temperament.Heathcliff never gives up, either loving or seeking revenge against he who separated him fromhis lover, first spiritually and then, physically.Heathcliff’s thirst for revenge will therefore live on and affect the new generation,whereas his love for Catherine takes on a new dimension, when he begins to communicate withher ghost. Heathcliff’s plans of revenge come to include the new generation, Cathy, Catherine’sdaughter, Linton, Heathcliff’s son, and Hareton, Hindley’s son. Here is therefore a new trio that,should they make the same mistakes as their parents, may come to repeat their destinies.
    • LOVE AND REVENGE IN WUTHERING HEIGHTS 7Heatchcliff’s revenge plan on Edgar is that of making Linton marry his cousin, Catherine. At thesame time, he has very specific plans with Hareton too. Thus,“He lifted the unfortunate child on to the table and muttered, with peculiar gusto. Now,my bonny lad, you are mine! And we’ll see if one tree won’t grow as crooked as another,with the same wind to twist it!” (p. 205).He therefore will try to apply to the child the same treatment as was applied to him when he wasa boy.His plans of revenge are somewhat spoiled when he saves Hareton, Hindley’s son fromdeath. In these circumstances,“It expressed, plainer than words could do the intensest anguish at having made himselfthe instrument of thwarting his own revenge” (p. 81).However, this failure that can only be attributed to a trace of humanity that lives on in him makeshim try even harder to create the perfect revenge. He makes Hareton his servant, and raises himas an uneducated brute, as he was under Hindley’s rule of Wuthering Heights. Hareton thereforebecomes a copy of himself, which, even though was his plan from the beginning, it is in the endironical, because Hareton too, wins Cathy’s heart.Therefore, Cathy, as a copy of her mother, and Hareton, ironically, as a copy ofHeathcliff, fall in love with each other and reiterate their parents’ story. Heathcliff fulfills hisplan of revenge when he manages to have Linton and Cathy married. However, even though itseems that destiny repeats itself, Linton does not live long after his marriage. In addition, bothCathy and Hareton resemble Catherine so much that Heathcliff gradually loses his desire to
    • LOVE AND REVENGE IN WUTHERING HEIGHTS 8revenge. Eventually, consumed by his love more and more, and obsessed with Catherine’sghost, he will finally cross to the other side to be with her, therefore living young Catherine andHareton, to fulfill their parents’ destinies, and their own.As it was shown throughout this paper, the characters’ passion, and most importantly,Heathcliff’s, determines them to love and hate so intensely. The revenge is born out of love, ofthe feeling of betraying love, or is a consequence of it. As the love for Catherine goes on evenafter her death, similarly, the desire to revenge continues after Hindley’s death, and after Edgar isno longer Catherine’s husband. This desire to revenge will only be appeased by love, becauseHeathcliff’s begins to see Catherine in both Cathy and Hareton. Having nothing else to live for,Heathcliff will die to join his lover.