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The story of Emily Bronte?s Wuthering Heights revolves around the passion that Catherine and Heathcliff felt for each other. These passions run extremely deep and intense. These passions are normal, everyday ones ? love, hate, affection, contempt and revenge. These depicted wild, untamable force are so violent, cruel, subjugating that more aften than not defies all order and break all barriers.
F.H. Langman states ?that the most important thing in Wuthering Heights, its central experience, is the love between Catherine and Heathcliff. What to make of it is another matter. The intensity of this particular passion which Catherine and Heathcliff display for each other goes beyond all physical and family barriers:
She was much too fond of Heathcliff. The greatest punishment we could invert for her was to keep her separate from him, yet she got chided more than any of us on his account. (Ch.V Pg. 40)
But in the eyes of the Lintons, Heathcliff has no right to Catherine or to the privilages of her class. He is a ?gypsy?, a ?castaway?, a ?wicked boy, at all events?? quite unfit for a decent house, while Catherine is ? Miss Earnshaw? and worthy of Linton respect and Linton attention.
The intensity of feeling between Catherine and Heathclif defies family barriers imposed by Catherine?s brother ,Hindley after their father?s death. Heathcliff was ill-treated by Hindley after the death of the old Earnshaw:
He drove him from their company to the servants, deprived him of the instructions of the curate ?
He bore his degradation pretty well at first, because Cathy taught him what she learnt, and work or play with him in the fields. They both promised fair to grow up as rude as savages, the young master being entirely negligent how they behave, and what they did, so they keep clear of him?? and the after punishment grew a mere thing to laugh at.
The crute might set as many chapters as he pleased for Catherine to get by
heart, and Joseph might thrash Heathcliff till his arm ached, they forget
everything the minute they were together again. (Pg 44)
Thus, it is clearly obvious that since childhood their feeling for each other defies all the family barriers imposed on them. No outside force would be strong enough to eclipse their emotions.
Even when she grows old enough for the question of marriage to arise, Catherine?s relationship with Heathcliff remains much as it was when they were children. The way the two spirit intertwined are clearly illustrated in Catherine?s speech below:
My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff?s miseries; my great thought in living is himself. If all else perish, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the Universe would turn to mighty stranger. I should not seem a part of it. My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods. Time will change it, I?m well aware, as winter changes the trees?my love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath?a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff?He?s always in my mind?not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself?but, as my own being?so, don?t talk of our separation again?it is impracticable??
Catherine loves both Heathcliff and Edger Linton on different basis?She loves Linton because he is handsome, and pleasant, and young, and cheerful, and rich, and loves her. Her love for Heathcliff is a must: it is the deepest impulse of her nature, it is ?necessary?. Through her feeling for Heathcliff, Catherine discovers her own identity, her place in the world?as he does through her.
Though Catherine realizes she has more in common with Heathcliff than with Litton, (Both are ?fire? to Litton?s ?frost?) nevertheless, she decides to marry Linton. Her decision is explained as:
And he will be rich, and I shall like to be the greatest woman of the neighborhood, and I shall be proud of having such a husband. (pg. 78)
It would degradme to marry Heathcliff.
??if Heathcliff and I married, we should be beggers?..(pg 81)
In choosing to marry Linton instead of Heathcliff, and become the lady of Thrushcross Grange, where nature has been tamed, accommodated to the values of good taste and orders, Catherine has betrayed her own heart.
Catherine decides to marry Linton but reluctant to forsake Heathcliff:
Every Linton on the face of the earth might melt into nothing, before I could consent to forsake Heathcliff. Oh, that?s not what I intend?that?s not what I mean! He?ll be as much to me as he has been all his lifetime. Edger must shake off his antipathy, and tolerate him, at least?.(Pg. 81)
If I married Linton, I can aid Heathcliff to rise, and place him out of my brother?s power. (Pg. 81)
This is her attitude towards marriage. She is deeply in love with Heathcliff but married Edger Linton with a motive. Even when she was married to Linton her extremely intense form of friendship with Heathcliff still persists. She is unfaithful to her husband by meeting with Heathcliff . On the other hand, Heathcliff also tries to work out to meet her .This extramarital relationship between them clearly has violate the social norms of her society in the Victorian age.
Catherine and Heathcliff?s love can be described as weird, as F.H. Langman terms it ?a love so peculiar that it transcends, by definition, all possibility of intelligent discussion.? Their love is a composite of many human traits and emotions yet at the same time are fluid and whole. It is astonishing revenues and possessive and rebellious, against the confines of human nature.
It is this intensity of feeling that results in the lost of humanity in the form of revenge by Heathcliff. Ordinary love is thought to redeem destructive impulses, but in Heathcliff?s case it is his love for Catherine which motivates his cruelty.
?I don?t care how long I wait, if I can only do it, at last. I hope he will not die before I do.?
His first step towards avenging himself is to ?befriend? Hindley, the one who make his life so miserable. He wins the friendship of young Hereton and begins his revenge on Hindley by degrading his son Hereton Earnshaw to servility and illiteracy.
The contrast of the simulated Chrismas cheer at Wuthering Heights is made to look even more stark by Heathcliff?s unchristian vow of revenge against Hindley.
?For shame, Heathcliff!? said I. ?It is for God to punish wicked people; we should learn to forgive.? (Pg. 60)
In making his vow, Heathcliff has opted to usurp God in the punishing of the wicked?he has decided to take justice into his own hands. It is ?rough justice??An eye for an eye, which is what melted out as revenge by Heatcliff. His revenge is willed and systematic. He has particular goals?revenge upon the agents of his past humiliation among them?and he uses force and deceit to reach them.We can say that in doing so he has denied them ?the right to exist, to hold a place in the scheme of things?.
He treats Hereton, Hindley and Joseph with contempt and looks uponthem as sub-humands., Hindley in particular. Heatcliff even despises his own son, Linton Heathcliff. (?I despise him for himself, and hate him for the memories he relives!?) and looks upon him as a means of securing for himself Thrushcross Grange.
The revenge exerted by Heathcliff is more of emosional and mental than physical abuse. Physical abuse is seen only in the case with young Linton Heathcliff who died as a result of his father?s nonchalace and when Heathcliff loses his temper which is hardly ever an act of revenge on Heathcliff?s part. However, in Hindley?s case, Heathcliffgets his revenge by getting him (Hindley) into his (Heathcliff?s) cluches, wins his (Hindley?s) inheritance through deceit (gambling) and plays on Hindley?s weakness by driving him to drink and ultimately death.
The spiritual revenge is seen in the forced marriage of Linton ans Cathy. The adult love which he imposes on them is representative of what was not between him and Catherine. Heathcliff does it in full knowledge that the love he is imposing upon them is unbereablefor both of them?Linton and Cathy, Heathcliff and Catherine. Young Linton and Cathy are made to suffer as a result of their unrealised adult love. Obviously, these acts of revenge are inhuman in nature.
The power of their passionate love not only leads to revenge, but depecited in Heathcliff?s extra-ordinary act which vilates all orders. Before Heathcliff dies,he makes a ghoulish arrangement with the sexton to knock out the adjoining sides of his own and Catherine?s coffin so that in death they might finally achieve the consummation of their love?a perfect and irrexocable union- which had tormented and eludedthem they were alive.
It is this desire to join Catherine that make Heathcliff starves himself to death.
In Wuthering Heights, passion is not seen to be a warm, tender thing, full of goodness of life or neatly tied up compassionate, considerate feeling. Heathcliff, is the embodimat of relentlessly single-minded passion. The lovers are not concerned with humanity?s law. They are concerned with passion?s law.