Romanticism and Spirits

At the time the events of Wuthering Heights were taking place, the idea of Romanticism was combating ideals of the Enlightenment. Romanticism was an alternate source for hope where the spiritual could be found both in the natural world and inside of us as humans.

As the story of Wuthering Heights came to a close, Heathcliff’s life that was so driven by revenge and scorned feelings, seemed to drift into a need for escape. He tells Nelly that he sees Catherine, “in every cloud, in every tree” (chapter 33, paragraph 46) and this memory of her haunts him and makes life unbearable. Heathcliff does not see hope in these natural images but instead reminded of his lost love. After leading a life so bent on revenge, Heathcliff finally sees his life has no true meaning without Catherine. Heathcliff also tells Nelly, “I tell you I have nearly attained my heaven…” (chapter 34, paragraph 57) which is to die and be with the love of his life.

This just reminded me of a quote from Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus where Carlyle claims that we are all spirits that take the form of a body that “…revel[s] in our mad Dance of the Dead- till the scent of morning air summons us to our still Home” (paragraph 22). Heathcliff lived a great portion of his life angry and vengeful until he felt a summon to his own heaven, one where Catherine would be. Hints of the natural world (the clouds that reminded Heathcliff of Catherine and the scent of morning air) appear in Wuthering Heights and in Sartor Resartus. Although Heathcliff dies, he hold onto the hope that he will be reunited with Catherine.

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