A Review of Wuthering Heights
----------- Wuthering Heights---------
The tale of Catherine and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights is a story of passion and unbridled love that transcends time. Catherine can be described as wild and untamed and Heathcliff as dark and foreboding, with an almost evil side. The story tells of both their struggles for self-identity and awareness. It is evident that Catherine and Heathcliff form a bond from the beginning of the story, and this bond proves to be one of a deep connection of two people more alike than is seen by the normal observer.
The story is narrated by Mr. Lockwood, as told by Mrs. Dean. It is obvious that there is bias on the part of both narrators. Mrs. Dean does not like Catherine, but she has feelings for Heathcliff in the beginning. Lockwood seems to be trying to understand the man that Heathcliff has become and why. Mrs. Dean tells her story often biased on the side of Heathcliff and against Catherine, yet always putting herself in the most positive light. Bronte does this because she wants the reader to always think there is a reformation coming for Heathcliff. This reformation does not seem to come. Upon deeper reading and analyzing, the reader finds that reformation doesn't come for Catherine either.
In the Beginning
From their first meeting, Catherine shows her spoiled side as she spits at the gift her father brings her when he returns with her new brother, Heathcliff. Heathcliff is called a gypsy, a boy that Earnshaw found in the smoky ruins of Liverpool. He is described as the devil. “ ‘See here, wife; I was never so beaten with anything in my life; but you must e’en take it as a gift from God; though it’s as dark almost as if it came from the devil,’ “ (p. 36). The smoky ruins where Heathcliff was found are symbolic of Hell itself. Catherine is drawn to him from the start, and they quickly become friends and coconspirators. After Catherine and Hindley’s father dies, Hindley banishes Heathcliff out of the family and treats him like a servant. This makes the tie between Heathcliff and Catherine stronger. They take whatever extreme measure necessary to spend time together.
Catherine is introduced to the Linton family in their home on occasion where she and Heathcliff were spying through the windows of The Grange and she is attacked by their dogs. She spends weeks recuperating there, and becomes accustomed to a finer life style than she has had at Wuthering Heights. This begins her relationship with Edgar Linton. The reader does not know of Catherine’s true feelings towards Heathcliff until a day she comes back from her time with Edgar and tells Nelly Dean of her intention to marry Edgar. “It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff, now: so he shall never know how I love him: and that, not because he’s handsome, Nelly, but because he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same,” (p. 81). Catherine justifies marrying Edgar by saying that she does it for Heathcliff too. “if Heathcliff and I married, we should be beggars? whereas, if I marry Linton, I can aid Heathcliff to rise, and place him out of my brother’s power.” (p. 82).
The places Wuthering Heights and The Grange are places in nature and of self-identity for both Catherine and Heathcliff. Since both Catherine and Heathcliff grew up in the dark surroundings of Wuthering Heights, it seems important to Catherine to grow in herself and to allow Heathcliff to grow by changing her own self and moving to The Grange. The Grange is represented as a more sophisticated and spiritual place. She desires this change but she is always drawn to the darkness of Heathcliff. This in itself represents the romantic concern of self-identity. The nature aspect is the emotional health she seeks at The Grange.
Heathcliff leaves Wuthering Heights after overhearing the first part of Catherine’s conversation with Nelly Dean stating that she will marry Linton. He does not return for three years and after Catherine is married to Linton. He returns a rich and powerful man, with better attire more suited for The Grange yet he remains at Wuthering Heights. He does not acquire the emotional health that Catherine wants him to have, and both of them become cruel in their treatment of the Linton’s and of each other. They both are split between the darkness and the light of emotional growth.
Catherine is describing herself and her own actions as she tells Isabella not to fall for Heathcliff. “I know he couldn’t love a Linton, and yet, he’d be quite capable of marrying your fortune, and expectations.” (p. 103). Catherine is describing exactly what she did in marrying Isabella’s brother. Yet Heathcliff does marry Isabella as revenge against Catherine and Edgar. He is cruel to her as Catherine is cruel at times to Edgar.
Heathcliff has been banished from The Grange, and he lives with his wife at Wuthering Heights. Catherine is so upset at having no contact with Heathcliff that she starves herself for several days because Heathcliff can not come to see her anymore. This is the beginning of her illness that will lead to her death.
It is apparent that Heathcliff and Catherine are very much alike all through the first half of this novel. They are both from the same darkness of Wuthering Heights and both search for a better life style, although their reasons are different. Heathcliff’s motives are revenge for the love he lost, and Catherine’s are a way to better herself. Both reasons are selfish none-the-less. They both can not survive with out the other. Catherine tries to keep Heathcliff in her life as much as she would her own husband. She is cruel to Isabella and Edgar to get her way. Heathcliff marries Isabella as revenge against Edgar and Catherine. They both experience the same struggle between darkness and light or growth and stagnation throughout their journey. The first half leaves the reader with the knowledge that Heathcliff has not reformed and neither has Catherine. The connection between them remains ever strong and their love, although not shared in a healthy way, remains true. The self-identity they both seek seems to be entwined in each other.
Bronte, Emily. Wuthering Heights. England. The Penguin Group, 1995
Sparknotes Wuthering Heights 5-04-2008
Odysseus the Faithful Husband
© 2013 Rebecca Shepherd Thomas