Everlasting Love In Wuthering Heights
A story filled with terror, abuse, mystery, gloom, death, and most admirably love, Wuthering Heights is a classic novel and one of the greatest pieces in Gothic Literature. As William Shakespeare once wrote “The course of love never did run smooth.” (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 1) These honest words are the perfect introduction to the complicated relationship between the characters in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. The multiple aspects of love are determined by Bronte through the trials and tribulations of being human. The author demonstrates the destructive, selfish, and betrayal sides of the romances between the minor and main characters in Wuthering Heights; how everyone is confined to the ongoing cycle. Catherine and Heathcliff share an undeniable love that break the laws of the physical world as their relationship is sealed in the afterlife. Most readers believe the premise of this gothic masterpiece is hatred and revenge, but when one takes a closer look the entire plot revolves around the difficult love story between Heathcliff and Catherine. The theme of Wuthering Heights is love.
The theme of love is developed between the special harmony that endures between Heathcliff and Catherine. Their strong emotions toward each other had developed since they were children. When Mr. Earnshaw came across an abandoned gypsy child, he took the youth (who grew up to be Heathcliff) back to Wuthering Heights. Earnshaw already had two children, Catherine and Hindley though he preferred Heathcliff over his own which caused tension in the family. After Earnshaw passed away Hindley and his manipulative servant, Joseph took over the Heights and enslaved Heathcliff. Catherine and Heathcliff’s passion towards each other developed quickly as they confided in one another during their abuse and mutual rebellion against the wrath of Hindley. One of their most cherished times together was when Catherine attempted to educate an illiterate and uneducated Heathcliff. The first occurrence that drove the star-crossed lovers away from each other was when Hindley sent Cathy away to receive a higher education at Thrushcross Grange. While Heathcliff was left to rot at the Heights. “She was much too fond of Heathcliff. The greatest punishment we could invent for her was to keep her separated from him: yet she got chided more than any of us on his account.” (Bronte 5) Their determined personalities, paired with their numerous mistakes and failures, complex their problems. As a result, life keeps them separated even though Heathcliff and Catherine have pledged their devotion and love to one another. This relationship, however, is doomed to fail as long as they are alive due to social constraints. Heathcliff’s poverty, lack of education, and unknown origin made him an unsuitable partner for Catherine as she is imprisoned in her high class. When she met Edgar Linton at the Grange, she knew he was a man with power, a man with status, and can provide her with a comfortable lifestyle. Part of Catherine truly loves Edgar, but she is living an unquestionable truth when she says her love for Heathcliff “…resembles the eternal rocks beneath…Nelly, I AM Heathcliff! He’s always, always on my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.” (Bronte 9) She knows the love that she has for Heathcliff is truly special and beyond comparison. Nevertheless, she accepts Edgar’s proposal to be married although she feels guilty for betraying Heathcliff. For some time, Catherine hoped to have it all by marrying Edgar and keeping Heathcliff in her life as a friend. But such promises are certainly doomed to fail.
Heathcliff begins to go through degeneration in the process. He too tramples on the special bond that ties him and Catherine so close together. However, their love is not always filled with happiness as it is distorted into hatred and bitterness. As Heathcliff overhears Catherine and servant, Nelly conversing in the kitchen. “It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff…He’s more myself than I am.” (Bronte 9) Catherine has said aloud how deeply in love she is with Heathcliff but is drawn to Edgar because of his wealth and status. Her words have urged Heathcliff to run away from the Heights following his absence for three years. On Heathcliff’s return three years later, he suspiciously comes back with wealth and a mysterious charm. With his traumatizing childhood and Catherine’s betrayal on the back of his mind; he decides to seek revenge on her husband, Edgar Linton, and his brother Hindley by taking over both properties of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. Heathcliff uses the power of “love” to swoon and manipulate Edgar’s sister Isabella into falling for him within a short amount of time, and to foolishly elope with him. Heathcliff performs this action knowing it will hurt Catherine and her spouse, as he will be married into the Linton family and be eligible to inherit Thrushcross Grange. In the meantime, Catherine and Edgar find out they are expecting a child. As Edgar is elated knowing he can permanently take the Grange out of Heathcliff’s hands with his presumably male heir, Catherine is underwhelmed and emotionless about her pregnancy. Catherine soon undergoes a mental breakdown from her separation of Heathcliff, thus making her realize she cannot live a peaceful life without him present. After her three days of self-confinement Heathcliff visits Catherine while Edgar is off at church. During their short time together Catherine and Heathcliff rekindle their passion and raw love for each other. “Kiss me again…I forgive what you have done to me. I love my murderer—but yours! How can I?” (Bronte 15) Shortly Catherine realizes that Heathcliff’s absence or he himself will be the death of her. When
Edgar comes back from church; he is enraged to see an unconscious Catherine and Heathcliff hovering over her. As a result of her breakdown and lack of self-care Catherine dies during her premature childbirth and Heathcliff becomes a vengeful man as his reunion for which he so longed for, is denied by her parting. Now it is only through death that they can be eternally united. From the night of Catherine’s funeral, Heathcliff has been haunted by her ghost longing for him to join her in the afterlife. ‘The spiritual principle of which the soul is a manifestation is active in this life: therefore, the disembodied soul continues to be active in this life. Its ruling preoccupations remain the same after death as before. In other words, the individual’s nature and passions did not end with death; rather, death allowed their free expression and fulfillment and so held the promise of peace.” (Lord David Cecil’s Critique of Heathcliff and Catherine’s Relationship in Wuthering Heights) After many years of tormenting Catherine’s daughter, Cathy and the other children who lived in Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff felt his desire of revenge fading thus his craving for the sweet release of death. Before he died, Heathcliff requested to be buried with Catherine and her husband to put the entire affair to rest. Appropriately, there have been reports of Heathcliff and Catherine’s spirits seen wandering together on the moors; meaning in the afterlife, their love knows no status or restraints.