Essay, Research Paper: Wuthering Heights

Literature: Wuthering Heights

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“Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living” (Bronte, 163)!
In this quote, Heathcliff’s pain from Catherine’s death is obvious.
Wuthering Heights is a Victorian novel regarding the lives of the Earnshaws and
Lintons. Through three generations, they all experience wave after wave of
tragedy all originating with Heathcliff’s overwhelming desire for revenge
against the Lintons. This hatred is brought on by the treatment Heathcliff
receives from the Lintons as well as Edgar Linton’s marriage to Catherine, his
soul mate. Although many passages of love are exposed in Wuthering Heights, the
true genre of this book is tragedy due to the role of characters other than
Heathcliff, the untraditional happy ending, and the death of the heroine early
in the story. The role of several characters makes this novel a tragedy. Hindley,
Hareton, Cathy, and Linton would be completely unneeded if this were a true love
story. Hindley becomes Heathcliff’s Nemesis from the very beginning. He is
cruel and hateful towards Heathcliff. “He [Hindley] drove him [Heathcliff]
from their company to the servants, deprived him of the instructions of the
curate, and insisted that he should labour out of doors instead, compelling him
to do so as hard as any other lad on the farm” (Bronte, 49). Hareton is also
unessential to a love between Catherine and Heathcliff. Hareton is Hindley’s
son and is treated like a slave, much the way Heathcliff was treated as a boy by
Hindley. At one point, Heathcliff, talking to Nelly, describes what is in store
for Hareton, “I know what he suffers now, for instance, exactly; it is merely
a beginning of what he shall suffer, though"”(Bronte, 211). Hareton and
Cathy’s love does make for a reconciliation of all this tragedy. However, it
is after the majority of the book and therefore does not negate the previous
misfortune. Linton is a pathetic boy who only brings disgust and general pity to
the book. Through the book, Linton is very sick. In this scene, Cathy has come
to pay him a visit, “…trembling, and retaining her hand as if he needed its
support, while his large blue eyes wandered timidly over her, the hollowness
round them transforming to haggard wildness the languid expression they once
possessed” (Bronte, 249). None of these characters are heroic or essential to
the love between Catherine and Heathcliff. The only possible heroic figure is
Heathcliff who is evil and rotten. Furthermore, this novel does not have a
traditional love story ending. Nearly the entire key characters die and most
before the book is halfway over. In the first half, Heathcliff and Catherine are
soul mates, yet she marries another. To the last day of her life, they argue and
blame each other for their unhappiness. In their last moments together,
Heathcliff berates Catherine for the pain she has caused him. “I have not
broken your heart – you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken
mine” (Bronte, 158). True love is not selfish and does not blame. Even after
Catherine is dead, the love between Cathy and Linton is very shallow. It is not
a true love story because of his apathy towards her. “His lack of interest in
the subjects she stated, and his equal incapacity to contribute to her
entertainment, were so obvious, that she could not conceal her disappointment”
(Bronte, 249). Also, Heathcliff forced them to marry. The only sense of a love
story is at the very end when Hareton and Cathy are seen as a happy couple. But,
this too was plagued by Cathy’s ridicule of him, “Oh, you dunce” (Bronte,
239)! Also, this was plagued by his maltreatment of her, “I was afraid for a
moment, and I let one volume fall; he kicked it after me and shut us out”
(Bronte, 240). Even though all seems well in the end, this is not a typical
romance. Additionally, our heroine dies early in the novel. She is consumed with
brain fever and never recovers. Her love for Heathcliff is only apparent during
the childhood years. Selfishness and anger overwhelm any feelings of love she
has toward him as an adult. With her gone and half the book remaining, it is
impossible to continue with any type of love story between them. In fact,
Heathcliff spends the rest of his life eaten with anger and anger does not breed
love. He is even angry towards Catherine because she married Edgar instead of
following her heart. “Why did you betray your own heart, Cathy? I have not one
word of comfort” (Bronte, 158). Their love is, in fact a tragedy, because it
is a spiritual, rather than physical love and they are only truly united after
their deaths. There seem to be no feelings of happiness related to any feelings
of love between Heathcliff and Catherine. Conclusively, the love that is in this
novel is not a pure love. Everyone is full of anger, hate, and resentment. It is
difficult to classify this novel as a love story because it is not happy. It is
apparent that because of the additional characters of Hindley, Hareton, Cathy,
and Linton, as well as the uncommon ending, and the early death of our heroine,
this novel should be classified as a tragedy.
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