Tag Archives: Wuthering Heights

Miss Havisham and Heathcliff

Now that we know a little bit more about Miss Havisham and her motives, I’m noticing how similar she is to Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights in terms of motives, which for both of them is revenge.

They are both caught in the past. Miss Havisham stopped all her clocks, still has her wedding dress and cake, and hasn’t left Satis House since she was left by her fiance. Heathcliff is still in the past because he’s so caught up in what could have been with Catherine. He doesn’t move on from her, he never really makes any friends and is pretty much alone at Wuthering Heights as a result similarly to Miss Havisham.

The two of them also both use children as a means to get their revenge. Miss Havisham adopts Estella to seek revenge on men as Pip is informed in Chapter 22. We see this through how she treats Pip when he comes to play by her asking if he finds Estella pretty and whispering to Estella to “Break their hearts my pride and hope, break their hearts and have no mercy!”. Meanwhile Heathcliff treats Hareton the way that Hindley treated him- uneducated and as a servant. He also then brings his son, Linton, to Wuthering Heights as a way to inherit Edgar Linton’s estate through his marriage to Cathy.

I’m interested in seeing how Miss Havisham’s plot line ends in comparison to Heathcliff’s.

Orphans During the Victorian Age

Upon reading Great Expectations, Pip’s character stood out to me because he reminded me of Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. Both Pip and Heathcliff were orphaned as young children, which caused them to face more adversity while growing up. Even though their situations were different, both characters demonstrated how common it was for children to be orphans during the Victorian Age.

In chapter one of Great Expectations, Pip mentions that he never got the chance to meet his parents and his “first fancies regarding what they were like were unreasonably derived from their tombstones.” As a child, it must have been difficult for him to grow up without knowing much of anything about his parents. Luckily, his sister took him under her wing and raised him. However, society likely misconstructed his situation and assumed that his parents abandoned him as a child.

Similarly, Heathcliff was orphaned as a child too. However, his situation was different because he had no family to live with. Therefore, he had to live on the streets of Liverpool all by himself. The master in the novel “picked it up and inquired for its owner.” As soon as he figured out that Heathcliff had no home, the master took him back to his home where he raised him from that day forward. There were many orphaned children in Europe, so Heathcliff was lucky to have been given a home.

Adaptation and Survival in Wuthering Heights

In Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, the reader sees that by the end of the novel the only two characters of the Earnshaw/Linton family line left alive are Cathy and Hareton. All of their predecessors- Hindley, Catherine, Edgar, Isabella, and Linton all died and died quite early on in their lives. As we talked about in class this could be attributed to various illnesses during the time, but could this also be read as them dying because they were unable to adapt to live among each other? Were Cathy and Hareton being the only ones to survive and get a happy ending because they learned to evolve from their predecessors and co-adapt with one another?

Cathy and Hareton were both best fit to survive because they developed characteristics and skills to co-exist with one another. Hindley was never able to because he had always felt threatened by Heathcliff from the moment he came to live with them as children because his father liked him more. Catherine was never able to adapt to the idea of entering a lower social status in being married to Heathcliff as she was quite selfish and so she died unhappily while being married to Edgar. Edgar was never able to adapt to living among Heathcliff because he also felt threatened by him and saw him as an enemy, knowing how Catherine felt about him. Isabella was not able to co-exist with Heathcliff because he abused her. Also she had unhealthy relationships with her brother and Catherine before marrying Heathcliff. To add we also see Linton Heathcliff was not able to survive because he was weak from the beginning and never able to recover from that. He was also terrified of Heathcliff from the moment he met him and never adapted to living with him. However, Cathy and Hareton both live with Heathcliff for an extended amount of time and outlive him unlike their predecessors. Cathy is much kinder and less selfish than her mother and is able to use with forming an actual healthy relationship with Hareton. Hareton was also different from his predecessors in that he was able to form an actual, somewhat healthy relationship with Heathcliff. When Heathcliff died, he was the only one to mourn him because he looked to him as a father.

Overall the ending to Wuthering Heights left me satisfied as Hareton and Cathy prove that there is hope for the next generation to form healthy relationships among one another unlike their predecessors.

Wuthering Heights’ equation of admiration and love

One connection from the prior chapters of Wuthering heights we read preciously to the end of Wuthering Heights, which we read this week, is the consistent connection the women of the novel make between loving someone, and wanting to be like them. Early on in the novel, in Chapter 9, Catherine states she loves Edgar because, in her word, “he’s more myself than I am”. Later, towards the end of the novel, when the other Cathy finally confronts Heathcliff, she says, quite deliberately “I wouldn’t be you!” This sentence seems a direct reference to the previously mentioned line in chapter 9, as despite the fact that Cathy is not talking about personally loving Heathcliff, (like Catherine had been talking about Edgar), her comment is directly tied to the concept of love, as her comment is preceded by her statement that Heathcliff is loved by no one. This way Bronte continuously equates wanting to be someone (or wanting to be like someone), and loving that someone is rather disturbing, but also intriguing. It leaves me wondering, did Bronte simply see this as a healthy form of love, or is she trying to further integrate the idea that all of the romantic relationships in the novel are broken in some way ?

Throughlines in Wuthering Heights

As the second half of the novel came to a close, I found it interesting how much of the second half mirrored the first. Similar themes such as marriage, complicated relationships, and familial lines all play a role in both the first and second half. Each generation within Wuthering Heights is almost like a mirror of the other, facing similar problems with similar characters (most glaring, of course, would be the two Catherines). Yet, the stories are not exactly alike. However, one through-line between both generations connects the two together, Heathcliff.

Of the initial conflict: Edgar, Catherine, and Heathcliff, Heathcliff lives the longest. As the plot continues, he becomes more sinister and more and more engulfed in his personal revenge, which creates the antagonist needed for the second Catherine. One of the most significant portions of the final chapters and Wuthering Heights as a whole is how he is buried, next to Catherine and Edgar, representing the eternity of this conflict.

Heathcliff is the single thread that persists through the entire novel, and his tale of revenge through both generations seems to be both the driving force of action behind everything that happens. Yet is reveals the changes between the two generations. His influence on those around him, from a position of no power to great power. The stark differences in the Catherines, their personalities and goals. How they react and respond to Heathcliff, as well as the rest of the cast of characters.

Along with Heathcliff comes his themes. The persistence of revenge and hatred, the ghosts of the past (sometimes literal). Fighting against him is love over pragmatism (often surrounding the Catherines), or civility to counteract has savagery.

Heathcliff pins the second part of Wuthering Heights together with the first, revealing the many ways it has persisted, but also showing the areas where it has changed.

Heathcliff’s Obsession with Catherine

This was the first time I read Wuthering Heights and so I went in not really having an idea of what it was about. Now that I have finished it, if I could summarize it in three words I would say ”abuse and obsession” which is what Heathcliff’s character demonstrates throughout Emily Bronte’s novel. Heathcliff’s love for Catherine is so strong throughout the novel that I would call it an obsession. However, Catherine never fully commits to Heathcliff as she eventually marries Edgar to fulfill societal expectations. As the story continues, Heathcliff becomes so engrossed in getting revenge for the way in which he was separated from Catherine that he plots his whole life around it against the Earnshaws and the Lintons. Some of his actions include putting Hindley into debt so he can inherit Wuthering Heights, his marriage to Isabella to anger Edgar and devising a plan to have Linton and Cathy marry so he can take over Edgar’s property once he passes away. We further see Heathcliff’s obsession with Catherine when he tells Nelly that at Edgar’s burial he asked them to cut the lid off of Catherine’s coffin so that when he is buried they can both be facing each other.

Heathcliff’s obsession over Catherine reminded me of what John Stuart Mill says in his Autobiography. Mill says, “My course of study had led me to believe, that all mental and moral feelings and qualities, whether of a good or of a bad kind, were the results of association; that we love one thing, and hate another, take pleasure in one sort of action or contemplation, and pain in another sort, through the clinging of pleasurable or painful ideas to those things, from the effect of education or of experience”. Here Mill is explaining why humans are so opposed to change. We are accustomed to what we know that it is hard to accept change. Heathcliff was so used to having a free-spirited Catherine by his side growing up that when they were older, he was unable to accept that she has changed in order to fit society’s expectations for women.

The Wuther of the Other

An overarching theme that our class has been discussing is gender ideologies and attributes depicted within Victorian literature. In response to this interest, Group 3 found Steven Vine’s article, “The Wuther of the Other in Wuthering Heights” which focuses on the relationship of the Other as it pertains to Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff and the influence it has on their social mobility throughout the novel. The article establishes a parallel between the term “wuthering” and the description of the Heights by Lockwood in the first chapter. Vine argues that the term wuthering can also represent a metaphor for stability and instability throughout the novel. Vine’s analysis of the wuthering of the other also applies both marxist and feminist theories to the novel and argues that Wuthering Heights replaces a masculine ideology of romanticism with a feminine one. This inherits Wuthering Heights to be “feminized Romanticism” reshaping the masculine Romantic narcissism. The article also expresses ways where a construed aspect of social and sexual identity are dramatized. Heathcliff is the main example in this article in relation to his  introduction to the family and argues that this experience represents Heathcliff’s unstable position in the family structure. Vine argues that “Heathcliff’s entire history in the novel is framed in terms of “taking the place of others” whether it relates to his assumption of the name Heathcliff or his succession as master of Wuthering Heights. Vine also argues Catherine and Heathcliffs relationship is the core representation of this theory.  As for social mobility, Heathcliff’s arrivals at the Heights has quite an influence over Catherine because his perceived objective is to separate her from her father’s governance. Vine argues that Catherine portrays disempowerment in communicating with her father as well as indicating that a power battle arises between them over Heathcliff. This disempowerment also causes a lack of identity within Catherine, as she is restrained by traditionally feminine roles in which she is expected to marry Edgar Linton and conform to societal pressures and expectations. Vine argues that if Wuthering Heights reveals gendered identity as a division, then what forms of this division are taken within this narrative? Whether historical or self revealing, this narrative presents the division in more than just an allegorical form. Overall, Vine conveys the instabilities present throughout the novel. 

The Struggles of Poor Victorian Children

While reading Wuthering Heights, my heart ached for the child who was taken in by the Earnshaw’s. He was heavily mistreated by the family because of the way he looked and his position in society. As the evening approached, the family refused to allow the boy in their rooms even though he was alone and looking for a welcoming place to sleep. They referred to the boy as “it” and “put it on the landing of the stairs, hoping it might be gone on the morrow.” This shows that their hearts were cold towards the child, even though he was probably feeling vulnerable. In an attempt to find a place of comfort, the boy snuck into “Mr. Earnshaw’s room.” This action led him to get kicked out of their house. After his short stay with the family, he was alone and on the streets once again. The way they treated the boy was inhumane. Sadly, they probably did not see anything wrong with their actions because it was acceptable to treat people from different social classes badl. Unfortunately, this mentality was also apparent in The Chimney Sweeper.

The Chimney Sweeper represents how some lower-class children felt during the Victorian Era. They often had to work strenuous jobs just to survive. Even though they were so young and helpless, other citizens did not help them because they appeared to be happy. Sadly, they were left to fend for themselves, causing them to get clothed “in the clothes of death.” This meant that they were destined for a short lifespan. In a way, it also meant that they would never become successful because of their social standing. Just like the family in Wuthering Heights, the Victorian Era upper-class assumed that they had done the poor children no harm. However, this was far from the truth. The children were forced to fend for themselves and work at a young age. Had the upper class offered a helping hand to these children, they would not have had to face harmful work environments or worry about what the future held. The class divide during the Victorian Era was quite apparent and it cause the lower class to suffer immensely.

Image result for the chimney sweeper