Time Cannot Heal A Broken Heart: As Exemplified Through Heathcliff, Tennyson, and Miss Havisham

There’s a common saying that almost everyone hears at some point in their life and it goes like this: “Only time can heal a broken heart.” Based on the texts we have read so far, like Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Alfred Tennyson’s In Memoriam or Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, this cliche is continuously proven wrong. Time cannot, in fact, heal a broken heart. Initially we see this with Heathcliff’s erratic behaviour and his obsession to be reunited with Catherine I. His pain is evident in his infamous plea when he learns of Catherine’s death: “Be with me always—take any form—drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!  Oh, God! it is unutterable! I cannot live without my life!  I cannot live without my soul!” (XVI). Heathcliff lives the remainder of his life in hopes of this reunion, because as Tennyson eloquently puts it: “More years had made me love thee more” (82.8).  I personally appreciated reading Wuthering Heights and then In Memoriam prior to Great Expectations because it enables me to empathise with Miss Havisham and her heartbreak. Like Heathcliff and Tennyson, Miss Havisham also ruminates in her grief as time passes by. While Heathcliff yearns for Catherine eighteen years after her death, and Tennyson, takes seventeen years to complete his tribute to Hallam, Miss Havisham exceeds almost twenty-five years of living in remorse. Her heartbreak and grief makes it seem as though the world around her has stopped moving, and all that she ever loved and cared for is placed out of her reach. Miss Havisham adopts the same coping mechanism as Heathcliff, and also resorts to revenge. While it may not seem directed on one particular person or family, she wants men to feel her to feel her pain, she wants their hearts to break, and uses Estella to carry out her revenge. In both Heathcliff and Miss Havisham’s grief, they become bitter and vengeful because they have spent all their time obsessing over their pain. Therefore it’s safe to assume that based on their circumstances, time does not heal the emotional wounds of Miss Havisham, Heathcliff, or Tennyson but rather, consumes their every thought and serves as an obsession to see who can hold onto their pain, and lost loved ones, the longest.

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