Oscar Wilde’s Themes of Death Between Love Interests and How this Intersects with Wuthering Heights

Oscar Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaols an epic poem that shared many similarities in themes to Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. The first similarity is the descriptions of death between lovers in both texts. This can be seen in the quote, “He did not wear his scarlet coat/For blood and wine are red/And blood and wine were on his hands/When they found him with the dead/The poor dead woman whom he loved/ And murdered in her bed.” This description seemed almost identical to the circumstances of the death of Catherine Earnshaw, who also died in her bed. In addition, Heathcliff asked to be buried next to her, hence the line of being found with the dead.

Further similarities can be found when Wilde discusses how relationships can bring about death in partners during their youth or during old age. He says, “Some kill their love when they are young, / And some when they are old; / Some strangle with the hands of Lust, / Some with the hands of Gold: / The kindest use a knife, because / The dead so soon grow cold.” Catherine was ‘killed’ by Heathcliff when she was young, while Heathcliff died of sadness when he was much older. In addition, when Catherine died, it was snowing, windy, and cold.

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