Wuthering Heights and Darwin: “Struggling to Exist”

In Darwin’s second paragraph of the On the Origin of Species excerpt, he defines and gives examples of the “struggle for existence,” which animals and plants both compete against weather, each other, and competitors to survive, but to add a dual quality, things also are dependent upon each other. This struggle for existence can be superimposed on Wuthering Heights in relation to the characters and their challenges. The obvious example, is Heathcliff starting out being treated poorly by Mr. Earnshaw to becoming wealthy and owning Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights, and then his eventual demise in becoming ill, to put it simply. Heathcliff did not accomplish this all on his own, he depended on young Cathy marrying Linton Heathcliff, Edgar Linton dying, and Linton Heathcliff’s inheritance from his uncle which he willed to his father, Heathcliff upon his death. The key to struggling to exist and still being successful, is knowing when to depend on others, and when to not. A further example is the Catherine, Edgar, Heathcliff, and Isabella conglomerate. Heathcliff depends on Isabella to fall in love with him so he can get revenge on Catherine and Edgar. He charms her at first and they marry, but he could not depend on her to stick around too long because she eventually got fed up with the abuse, and escaped. With Nelly, he has to depend on her to send a letter to Catherine for him. If it was any other servant that Heathcliff depended on, his letter may not have slipped past Edgar and gotten to Catherine. People need connections with each other in order to survive and succeed, and likewise, so do animals and plants, but even with our connections, we may still struggle. Sometimes the outcome, like with young Cathy and Hareton, will be positive; the shade-bearing trees and the shade plants flourish together. Other times in life, like with Heathcliff, the end will be tragic, as some plants just can’t get enough moisture, and begin to wilt before death.

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