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It may not be the sentiment on most Valentines Day cards, but it sure is the pervasive opinion on l'amour in Wuthering Heights. Does that sound like kind of a horrific idea of love to you? We have bad news for you—you're almost totally alone in thinking that. Wuthering Heights, and its warped idea of true love, is often voted the
Wuthering Heights, published in 1847, revolves around the passionate and destructive love between its two central characters, Emily Brontë's headstrong and beautiful Catherine Earnshaw and her tall, dark, handsome, and brooding hero/devil, Heathcliff.
Forget the romantic candlelit dinners, the wine, and the roses. Catherine and Heathcliff's love exists on an entirely different plane: one that involves ghosts, corpses, the communion (or possession) of souls, and revenge. And, speaking of revenge, Heathcliff—who harbors more than one grudge against his adoptive family, the love of his life, and his neighbors—manages to make every revenge drama look like kids' play.
Though Wuthering Heights is considered a classic, the book wasn't always so popular. In fact, when it first came out there was all sorts of confusion about the author, because Brontë published the book under the pseudonym Ellis Bell. Readers thought the book was by the same author who wrote (which was more immediately embraced by the public because the characters are a lot more likable). Turns out, Emily's sister Charlotte wrote Jane Eyre... under the pseudonym Currer Bell.
“Wuthering Heights is not a comfortable book; it invites admiration rather than love.” (Stoneman) The novel contains several different levels that force readers to ponder the text....
These brief quotes show that early critics of Emily Bronte’s first edition of Wuthering Heights, found the novel baffling in its meaning - they each agreed separately, that no moral existed within the story therefore it was deemed to have no real literary value....
Right about now you might be feeling peeved. "Hey," you might be saying, "I know Wuthering Heights is a romantic book. It's often called the most romantic book of all time. And I don't like sappy-pants, swoony love stories.
This is shown when she says, "Edgar Linton will be rich and I shall like to be the greatest woman of the neighbourhood whereas if Heathcliff and I married, we should be beggars.” In Wuthering Heights wealth signifies social class because Catherine strives to achieve high status by marrying the rich man over the poor man.
The story concludes in "resolution and reconciliation".
This is a love story like is a story about whaling. Yes, love in Wuthering Heights is pervasive. Yes, it's what the story is "about." But this book comes with a huge disclaimer that shouts: "Don't try this at home, kids!"
Because—spoiler alert—the love story in Wuthering Heights doesn't pan out. This novel is not about Catherine + Heathcliff = everlasting love. For one thing, they're siblings. For another, Catherine marries someone else for money and status. Heathcliff goes insane. He seduces another woman and then abuses her. He digs up the corpse of his lady love. He torments children. He dies cold and alone... but not before he makes everyone within a twenty-five mile radius of him insanely unhappy.
Catherine’s death proves that this flawed plan of repayment helps nothing. Heathcliff, haunted by the ghost of Catherine because he is her “murderer,” still is motivated by the need for revenge and tries to get young Cathy away from Edgar by having her marry his son, Linton. Heathcliff never finds peace until he gives up his plan for revenge just before he dies. When Heathcliff gives up his plan for revenge, he meets Catherine in death and truly becomes happy once more.
The love in Wuthering Heights is stronger than death, but the characters also portray a hatred in the novel that evokes even stronger emotions in both the reader and the characters.
In the first part of the novel, Heathcliff and Catherine’s love is prevalent, but when Catherine marries Edgar Linton, Heathcliff is motivated to get revenge on all those whom he believes have wronged him.