Heathcliff as the Subject of “England 1819”

Wuthering Heights may end on a relatively hopeful note, but that does not erase how wholly heartbreaking the novel is. One of the most dismal aspects of the story being the way that Heathcliff becomes what he once hated: a tyrant, and one that seems to be far worse than Hindley. This structure, a depressing story with an ending that betrays the tone of the rest of it, reminds me of Shelley’s poem, “England 1819″. Not only that, but I cannot help but feel that Heathcliff, at the end of his life, can be described by the poem as well. Heathcliff is the country of England in which everything is going wrong. He is the ” old, mad, blind, despis’d, and dying king,” and yet, he is also that person “starv’d and stabb’d in the untill’d field.” Hate and suffering has made him into that hated and dying king, but a false king at that. It was a role that he never fit into, and really never wanted. So though he was the master of both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange at the time of his death, he died as the lonely orphan boy he once was. And yet out of all of this, that “glorious phantom may burst to illuminate our tempestuous day;” Hareton and Cathy go on to live what could have been between Catherine and Heathcliff, as Heathcliff is laid to rest, finally with the person he loves for the rest of eternity in “that quiet earth.”

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