Emily Bronte: Wuthering Heights

Emily Bronte in her first novel, the Wuthering Heights brought a new sensation to the world of the 18th century. It was a world of divided living, where fine lines were drawn among all the social classes, and material possessions defined the status of the people. In this classified society Emily Bronte managed to draw the image of two people who had confined themselves to the constrict society, but had created a shared world of their own. And this shared world, yielded strong passions, of love, desire and revenge.

Cathy and Heathcliff though came to live together from their early childhood but their social differences made them come into direct conflict with the society. Catherine Earnshaw belonged to the family of aristocrats, and Heathcliff was no other but a gypsy, who was brought to the house, as an act of kindness. Yet very soon Catherine develops a liking for the quiet Heathcliff, as she finds him in harmony with her own self. Whether its playing, eating, singing, or lesson of bible, she finds a tendency to be like Heathcliff more than herself. Growing together in the moors, Cathy and Heathcliff, come together as they learn to share the same perspective towards life. They live in freedom and high spirit in the vast spread lands.

Unconsciously they develop a bond, a connection of love, so strongly that don’t even know themselves.

The conflict arises when Catherine is introduced to Edgar Linton. Catherine and Heathcliff are aware from the beginning that the future holds difficulties for them, but they keep themselves busy in their own happiness until Edgar Linton comes into the picture. Heathcliff becomes agitated and raged by his frequent visits and finds him to be a threat to his dignity while Catherine sees no enemy in Edgar Linton and she soon becomes well acquainted with his way of life. As new realities open to Catherine, she sees a larger world beyond what she had seen with Heathcliff at Wuthering heights.

Catherine is torn between the society and her own world. Edgar Linton seems the right person to marry, as he has wealth, status, and honor. But with Heathcliff she has something beyond all material possessions. She says “Whatever our soul are made of, his and mine are the same.” This was an epiphany for Catherine as for the first time she realized that there was something distinct about her feelings for Heathcliff. She could not separate herself from him in any way, because deep inside she felt that they were no separate beings, but a single soul that occupied two bodies. She says “-he’s more myself than I am.” This was an intense emotional realization. And the forward movement was shaped by it, as Cathy started to think of ways in which she could be with Heathcliff not only emotionally but also in the societal world they lived in.

In an attempt to make relationship with Heathcliff survive the conflict with the orthodox society, Catharine thinks of marriage with Edgar Linton. She wants to quieten the world outside that had started to disturb the quiet simple world she shared with Heathcliff. She wanted to marry Linton so that not only could she make Heathcliff rich, but also to regain the secret connection with Heathcliff, without anyone noticing or interfering with it. However Heathcliff is not of the same idea, he finds it against his pride for Catherine to marry someone else. He agonized by the thought that a relation like marriage would tear them apart forever, and in despair and utter helplessness he decide to take an exile. Heathcliff’s absence makes Catherine upset, she wants him back. And then she marries Linton. She had had hasten this act so has to make her accepted socially, and in her heart she waited for Heathcliff.

Heathcliff does return, but seeing his beloved Catherine living with Edgar Linton enrages him. This is the time when things start to turn the way Catherine could not have imagined. Catherine wants Heathcliff to remain as he was, and she fails to comprehend his furious anger. Heathcliff felt isolated and left out, and at the same time he felt a connection with Catherine which pulled him to the step of Thrushcross grange often.

Following events turn out to be even worse, Catherine is taken by serious illness, and Heathcliff could not find peace and he makes desperate attempts to make Catherine realize her faults. Edgar Linton finds himself sincere to Cathy and tries to nurture her, keeping her away from the temptation of Heathcliff.

The composite character that Catherine and Heathcliff share becomes evident to the readers on the day when they meet for the last time. The moment holds emotions of love, anger, guilt, and fear for both of them. Catherine wants Heathcliff to know that even death can’t separate them both. She tells him that if any of her words would torment him, she would be in distress too. She cries and holds onto o him for life, and says “that is not my Heathcliff. I shall love mine yet; and take him with me: he is in my soul.” She knows that what she shares with Heathcliff is unique, and she was sure to treasure it with her and take it to her grave. Heathcliff is ablaze with passion too, he knows that he is about to lose Catherine and without her his life would be empty. He blames her for leaving him and putting an end to his life too but more he hates himself, for he cannot save her for he can never have her again like before. Heathcliff’s intense emotions are clear when he says “I love my murderer – but yours! How can I?” Heathcliff is inconsolable and helpless.

Catherine dies, and Heathcliff is left to grieve. He is tormented and in desperation he calls out Catherine, he curses her to never be in peace till he was alive. Heathcliff realizes his own death, in the demise of Cathy. He yells and begs her “you said I killed you – haunt me, then!” “-I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul.”

These moments are important as they make us realize as Catherine and Heathcliff shared a bond prior to essence. They had created their own world where they had each other. Catherine and Heathcliff had isolated their beings from the traditional norms of the society, and they lived to their content. They had always been in harmony with each other and even by trying they could not differentiate between each other as they felt one. They had shared all feelings, all moments and all torments together; they had become one against a world that conspired against them. It was with this composite strength that they had grown and flourished, but had remained one in all odds.