Wuthering Heights Love And Betrayal
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Love and Betrayal Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights is considered to be one of the greatest novels written in the English language. Due to Heathcliff and Catherine’s love relationship, Wuthering Heights is considered a romantic novel. Their powerful presence permeates throughout the novel, as well as their complex personalities. Their climatic feelings towards each other and often selfish behavior often exaggerates or possibly encapsulates certain universal psychological truths about humans. The role of love and betrayal in Wuthering Heights effects Heathcliff and Catherine’s relationship by eventually leading to their demise.
Throughout Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff’s personality can be defined as dark, menacing, and brooding. He is a dangerous character, with rapidly changing moods, capable of hatred, and incapable, it seems, of any kind of forgiveness or compromise.
Heathcliff’s life is marked by wickedness, love, and strength. His dark actions are produced by the distortion of his natural personality. The depiction of him at Wuthering Heights is described as a “dirty, ragged, black-haired child” (45). Already he was exposed to hardship and uncomplainingly accepted suffering. He displays his strength and steadfastness when Hindley treats him cruelly. Not only does he show his strength through Hindley, but also by following his personal goal of a life with Catherine. From the very beginning he showed great courage, resoluteness, and love. Few have the capability to be victimized and find secret delight in his persecutor sinking into a life of intemperance which will undoubtedly cause his own death.
Heathcliff’s hatred erupts when Catherine marries Edgar. She betrays him and now he wants revenge on Edgar and Hindley. His wickedness is entirely inappropriate and unusual. Without a question he is brutal and the universal darkness in Heathcliff must not be excused. The vicious manner in which he helps to destroy Hindley, kidnaps Cathy and Nelly, and brutalizes Isabella and Hareton, suggests that he is disturbed. Heathcliff’s dark instincts are evident because of his passion and undying love for Cathy. He vanishes for three years to win Cathy over with his successes and choses to fight a battle that most would never attempt to begin. When Heathcliff returns a wealthy gentleman, suddenly able to rival Edgar’s wealth, Catherine does not react like a wife in a loveless marriage.
Instead she renews her former plan to have Edgar as a husband and Heathcliff as a friend.
She says, “Edgar must get accustomed to Heathcliff” (105). She seeks to reconcile the two kinds of love. Of course, Catherine’s plan can not work. Heathcliff is not content as her best friend, and takes advantage of Isabella’s affection in an act of revenge.
His obsession with Catherine is what causes him to act out in revenge against Edgar. It must be assumed that his obsession with Catherine, his desperate yearning to be with her, and his longing for death was what ultimately killed him. That such a longing could actually kill Heathcliff suggests that perhaps what he was experiencing was more than love. It seems unlikely that love would inspire Heathcliff in such rage and anger as consumed in his life for the many years following Catherine’s death. That love alone could cause his physical decline and death seems unlikely as well. Heathcliff’s condition indicates that what he felt towards Catherine was more than love, it was more like a violent obsession, fueled by a mad jealousy and hatred of anyone who dared to stand himself between him and her.
Catherine’s first love is Heathcliff and she falls in love with him as they both grow up together. As children “she was much too fond of Heathcliff,” Nelly tells Mr.
Lockwood, “The greatest punishment we could invent for her was to keep her separate from him” (50). They are best friends throughout childhood, but are separated for the first time when Catherine must stay at Thrushcross Grange while her leg heals. She returns to the Heights a young lady, her class is brought out by the Lintons’ influence. However, she no longer shares Heathcliff’s wild appearance, she continues to feel a deep internal identification with him.
After living with the Lintons, Catherine can not help becoming dissatisfied with Heathcliff. Despite her continued deep feelings for him, she knows better than anyone else that he has negative qualities. She finds a different kind of love with Edgar Linton. She decides to marry Edgar, who can satisfy her civilized side. This is when she betrays Heathcliff. She has a dream about heaven and it represents her marriage to Edgar before she commits to him which proves she is wrong to marry him. She says, “I’ve no more business marrying Edgar Linton than I have to be in heaven” (98). She speaks of Heathcliff and says, “‘he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same, and Linton’s is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire'” (98). This proves she loves Heathcliff more than she loves Edgar. When Heathcliff returns to her life, she is torn between marriage and ideal love. She tries to lead two separate lives; she is Heathcliff’s wild friend at the Heights, but becomes Edgar’s refined love at the Grange. Whenever the two worlds meet she is confused.
In contrast to the wildness she shares with Heathcliff, Catherine has a cultured side that is brought out by the Lintons. Although Catherine loves Heathcliff, she also loves Edgar at the same time, she merely loves them in different ways. This is shown by the quote, “My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary” (100). She means here that she loves Edgar now, Catherine’s marriage to Edgar is not simply a marriage of convenience.
It is true that he can offer her the financial security that young Heathcliff can not.
However, she confides to Nelly her feelings for Edgar. “I love the ground under his feet, and the air over his head, and everything he touches, and every word he says – I love all his looks, and all his actions, and him entirely” (85 -86). In short, she loves Edgar in the way the average person would define “love.” Her life with Edgar is a kind of happiness, and she will not tolerate even her beloved Heathcliff’s attempts to ruin it. Catherine’s husband, unlike her other love, can offer her the emotional stability she needs.
Therefore, Catherine Earnshaw is a woman torn between two incompatible loves.
She wants the peace only marriage with Edgar can offer, and yet she cannot give up her wild bond with Heathcliff. She is tormented by impossible visions of love and fails to reconcile the two opposing loves of her life. Only at the arrival of her death is she willing to surrender to the truth of her love. She says to Heathcliff, “‘You and Edgar have broken my heart, Heathcliff! And you both come to bewail the deed to me, as if you were the people to be pitied! I shall not pity you, not I. You have killed me-and thriven on it'” (194). This struggle ends with Catherine’s death, but continues in a sense with her haunting of Heathcliff. The ambiguous ending, where Catherine and Heathcliff are rumored to be reunited as ghosts, completes the love theme of the story.
Heathcliff and Catherine’s stark backgrounds evolve respectively into dark personalities and mistaken life paths, but in the end their actions determine the course of their own relationships and lives. Behind all the hidden agendas, natural attributes, and wounds of external circumstances, the love of two kindred spirits prevails. In the end love conquers even a Heathcliff -after his soul has been cleansed with age and wisdom of the hate and distortion with which he has lived for decades. When all is said and done, Heathcliff and Catherine are the story. Heathcliff is a most unusual character demonstrating his love for Catherine by causing her pain.
He wreaks his vengeance recklessly, nearly destroying everyone, including himself and the ones he should love. The reader may regard the novel as a serious study of human problems such as love and hate, or revenge and jealousy. Catherine and Heathcliff’s misfortunes, recklessness, willpower, and destructive passion are unable to penetrate the eternal love they share. Their love and betrayal towards each other is what leads to their demise. The novel proposes that death is the only way to find the love that is unrequited in life, that the only way Catherine and Heathcliff can find peace is through the release of death.