Emily Bronte is considered as one of the greatest female writers in the history of English Literature .The long novel Wuthering Heights is her masterpiece and shows her unique opinions of love and marriage . In this novel , the hero is Heathcliff , and the heroine is Catherine . Through them , “ Emily ranges human passions against social conventions with extraordinary violence , while at the same time retaining a cool artistic control .”
In terms of the plot of this novel , the writer narrates a story about love , hate and revenge. Originally , Heathcliff and Catherine loved each other . Because of her vanity , Catherine married Edgar who was a rich and handsome gentleman . Then Heathcliff converted his love into hate and revenged the persons who related to Catherine . The love between Heathcliff and Catherine makes people understand them gradually instead of thinking that they were crazy . The mistake, which Catherine chose her marriage , is the masterstroke of the novel . Her mistake influenced the fate of the two generations . In the novel , there are two triangle patterns in two generations------one pattern includes Catherine , Heathcliff and Edgar ; the other includes little Cathy, Hareton and little Linton . Emily used the two patterns to narrate the love story between a woman and two men . Though little Cathy was Catherine’s daughter , they lived in different periods and their characteristics were completely different . Both of them played more important roles in their own triangle pattern and inpenetrated the development of the whole plot . Their opinions and choices in the road of love reflected different love of the two generations . Just the different love , the results they got were also different .
ChapterⅠ Sensibility vs. Sense
Anyone , who reads Wuthering Heights ,will be moved by the holy love and deep emotions between the hero and the heroine . Heathcliff was brought up by Mr. Earnshaw . Catherine and he loved each other when they were very young . Later, she met Edgar in Thurshcross Grange by accident and lived there for a short time . She felt the obvious difference between Edgar and Heathcliff . One was a handsome , young , lively , rich and decent gentleman , while the other was an ill-mannered , ill-tempered , stubborn and poor villager . When Edgar asked Catherine to marry him, she in fact had the answer in her mind . If she married Edgar , she would become the greatest woman in the neighbourhood . If she married Heathcliff , her identity would be degraded and she would always live a poor life . When she considered whether she married Edgar or not, there were some dialogues between Catherine and her servant Nelly:
“Why do you love him , Miss Cathy?”
“Nonsense, I do—that’s sufficient.”
“By no means; you must say why?”
“Well, he is handsome, and pleasant to be with.”
“Bad!” was my commentary.
“And because he
is young and cheerful.”
“Bad , still.”
“And because he loves me.”
“Indifferent ,coming there.”
“And he will be rich , and I shall like to be the greatest woman of the neighbourhood , and I shall be proud of having a husband.” (Emily,2004: 91-92)
Catherine couldn’t find the reasonable explanations and answered why she loved Edgar . In fact , she didn’t love him at all , and her vanity drove herself to accept Edgar ,whereas who she loved all the same was Heathcliff . However , at the Victorian Period , a person was only judged by his economic status and social background . Influenced by the current society , Catherine was occupied by the vanity and married Edgar , regardless of the past passion for Heathcliff . From the latter plots , we can see who she really loved was Heathcliff, however , she couldn’t calm down at that time because she lacked of the sense .
When Heathcliff knew Catherine would like to marry Edgar , he left her . After three years , he appeared again and became a rich gentleman . Since Catherine became Edgar’s wife , her life seemed to be happy and harmonious . But when she met Heathcliff again , she was particularly excited and forgot her identity , even wanted Edgar to accept him . As Edgar’s wife , I think , she ought to respect his husband and care for his feelings . Just because of her strong sensibility , she ignored everything and still loved Heathcliff insanely . When she was ill, she yearned for Heathcliff and the life in Wuthering Heights . Even when she was dying , who she wanted to meet was still Heathcliff , on the contrary , she didn’t remember Edgar clearly.
From these unreasonable plots , we can see that Catherine is an emotional person . She preferred her sensibility to her sense . If she could calm down and choose to marry the person who she really loved , I think , for her sensibility , she would not regret her choice . Little Cathy was Catherine’s daughter . She had a good looking just like her mother . Unlike her mother, she had a kind heart and the genteel behavior . Edgar took “Cathy’s education entirely on himself ”(Emily, 2004: 220 ) when she was very young . So Cathy studied very hard and eagerly . She grew up under the surroundings of the adults , so she was always considerate to others . In fact , she was well educated under the surroundings of sense from childrenhood . Little Linton was her little cousin . The reason why she fell in love with him was that she thought she was elder and wiser than he , and she wanted to protect her little brother who was coward and frail . When Linton had a bad temper , she was always patient with him , told stories and shared jokes with him . She thought that he had the poor health , so she had the right to help him and give him her love .When she was prohibited to meet little Linton , she was very sad and seemed to make a mistake herself .
During the time that her servant Nelly was ill , Cathy “behaved like an angle”(Emily, 2004:284) and kept Nelly company and took care of her .Unfortunately , her father was ill at the same time . So she was busy to keep her father company as well as Nelly . Her days were completely divided into two parts—to her father and Nelly , and she didn’t leave a second for herself . Because of Linton , she secretly met him after taking care of Nelly in the evening . The purpose that she didn’t let them know was that she didn’t want them to worry about her.Cathy loved her father very much . When her father was ill , she felt sad and once said to Nelly:
I care for nothing in comparisons with papa . And I’ll never—never—oh , never , I have my senses , do an act or say a word to vex him . I love him better than myself , Ellen ; and I know it by this— I pray every night that I live after him ; because I would rather be miserable than that he should be: that proves I love him better than myself . ( Emily, 2004: 270) From her words , we can see that she was a very filial and kind daughter , and she freted about “nothing on earth except papa’s illness .”(Emily, 2004:270) Sense made her realize that her father was most important person in her life . Nobody can replace her father’s place in her mind . She was willing to give up everything , including love and her beloved Linton , only for her dear father . From these plots , we can see that Cathy’s sense was beyond her sensibility .
ChapterⅡ Primitive Love vs. Civilized Love
Catherine was born in Wuthering Heights , which symbolized freedom, primitivity and savagery . When she was young , she was a little trulculent and intractable . She wouldn’t like to read books , but like to play and run with boys . She often laughed at the Bible , she even didn’t go to the church on Sundays . However , Cathy was different from her mother . Cathy was born in Thrushcross Grange , which symbolized civilization and the upper class . She grew up in the surroundings of adults , for there wasn’t a friend of the similar age . “Her anger was never furious ; her love was never fierce : it was deep and tender .”(Emily, 2004: 220) Under her father’s good education , she “ learned rapidly and eagerly .”(Emily, 2004: 221) When she was forced to marry Linton by Heathcliff , she couldn’t bear the days in Wuthering Heights without a book . In her opinion , she couldn’t live on the earth without books . As we all know , reading books is a way to develop from the primitivity to the civilization . From their different attitudes about books , we can see that what they pursued was completely different .
Catherine pursued the freedom and the primitivity , while Cathy pursued the civilization and the ethic . Therefore , Catherine is the representative of primitive love , whereas Cathy is the representative of civilized love . Primitive love is irrational and jazzy . People of this kind will love one regardless of everything and hate one without thinking of the results . That Catherine married Edgar satisfied her vanity , however , her love for Heathcliff didn’t diminish . Even when she was dying , who she didn’t forget was also Heathcliff . The love was so strong and seemed to be the most original and basic strength in her life . As Catherine said :
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 . (Emily, 2004 : 96-97) Catherine felt that she shared her soul with Heathcliff , so marrying Edgar seemed to betray her soul . She thought all the time that Heathcliff was more herself than she was . Nobody could give Catherine love that she needed except Heathcliff . When he left her twice , she was seriously ill twice . When he returned twice , she was mad with joy twice . When she was dying , she wanted to meet Heathcliff and pled with him to forgive her . Finally , she devoted the whole heart to her real beloved Heathcliff and also devoted herself to the primitive love .
Comparsionly , Cathy’s love was civilized and tender . When she fell in love with Linton , she tried her best to keep him company , told him stories and jokes to relieve his loneliness . At the same time , she looked downed on her cousin Hareton . In her eyes , Hareton was a boor , whereas Linton was her real beloved . But she didn’t go into the extreme . Gradually , Cathy realized Linton’s ruffianism and wanted to break up with him . But it was too late , she was forced to marry the dying Linton under Heathcliff’s intrigue . Though there was no love between Cathy and Linton after their marriage , Cathy still took care of him carefully when he was seriously ill . She suffered not only physically but also mentally . Fortunately , Linton’s death changed her bad situation . In that situation , if Cathy wanted to get the happiness , she would have diverted her emotion to others . When she saw that Hareton was trying to approach to civilization and culture , she was eagar to get Hareton’s company and talk with him . She realized that the reason why he was unwilling to talk to her was that she laughed at him before . “ She was sorry for his persevering sulkiness and indolence — her conscience reproved her for frightening him off improving himself .” (Emily, 2004: 363) Facing this situtation , she didn’t give up and continued to make an effort to approach him . She said to Hareton that she would like to accept him as her cousin if he “ had not grown so cross” to her , “and so rough” . (Emily, 2004: 364) Finally , she found out her happiness and returned Thrushcross Grange with Hareton .
In my opinion , her progress was very obvious . At the beginning , Cathy’s mind was very narrow . She lived in the upper class , and she had no common language with Hareton ,let alone accepting him as her cousin . If she wanted to find her happiness , she must abandon her psychological barrier and accept Hareton to join her society . All that she did showed that she had the better education and the higher equality . She could face her lover calmly and deverted her attention from one person to another . Unlike her mother’s primitive love , her love is civilized , tender , rational . For the current society , she was an exception who had the self-consciousness of the women and self-pursuit of happiness . Therefore , Cathy is the representative of civilized love.
Chapter Ⅲ Love vs. Hate
According to the philosophy , if irrational and primitive love is hampered , it will be turned into hate . Rational and civilized love is unlikely to be turned into hate . On the contrary , it can eliminate hate .
When Heathcliff was young , he had original kindness and purity just like other children . That Catherine abandoned him hurt his heart and made him divert from love to hate . So Heathcliff’s hate and the plan of the revenge originated from Catherine . That Catherine died quietly without yelling his name wasn’t the same as what he thought . Heathcliff cried with anger :
Why , she’s a liar to the end ! Where is she ? Not there—not in heaven—not perished—where ? Oh ! You said you cared nothing for my sufferings ! And I pray one prayer—I repeat it till my tongue stiffs—Catherine Earnshaw , may you not rest , as long as I am living ! (Emily , 2004: 195 ) His hate was so strong that he hated her for eighteen years after her death . Then he tried to revenge al persons who related to Catherine , but he got nothing from it at last . Finally , he died in the extreme joy and the extreme sadness . He had to meet his Catherine in the heaven . As a result , their primitive love only exists like spooks in people’s imagination .
Hareton admired Cathy when he met her at the first time . But Cathy looked down on him and considered him as an impolite and ignorant person . Later , Heathcliff’s intrigue made them hate each other . Under Nelly’s direction , Cathy changed her attitude towards Hareton and endeavored to help him , even accepted him as her cousin . As we expected , they fell in love with each other . The reason why Cathy was happy was that Hareton no longer hated her , whereas he loved her deeply . Just because rational they use their love to eliminate their hate , both Hareton and Cathy made great efforts to change a lot for the other . So they could return Thrushcross Grange , which symbolized civilization and upper class , and lived a happy life . As a result , unlike the former generation , their rational and civilized love could exist in the reality .
Wuthering Heights is a classical novel of the love . After reading it , I am certainly shocked by the love between Heathcliff and Catherine and moved by their deep feelings . And I feel satisfied with the sound ending of Hareton and Cathy . At the same time, I also admire and appreiate Emily’s unique image and special writing style.In fact , the whole plots of this novel were dominated by a word—love . Of course , hate was also aroused by love . Characters of the former generation had irrational and primitive love . They lacked of the sense and loved with each other insanely . Because of the irrational love , their love was turned into hate . Characters of the latter generation had rational and civilized love . They had the sense and loved each other quietly and tenderly . Because of the rational love , their hate was eliminated . Just because of the different love they chose , their fates were completely different . One exists in the people’s imagination, whereas the other exists in the reality . If people love each other in a proper way , I think they will be happy . Love only accords with human beings . But primitive love is the spiritual love which is unlikely to exist in the reality .
By comparing the two generations in Wuthering Heights , I not only see the different love , but also realize the profound meanings of the novel . Facing the problems in daily life , we should use our sensibility to settle all problems besides love and marriage . If the process is hampered , we can not go into the extreme . We’d better convert our attention into another beneficial aspect . In Victorian Times , the system of social class was prevailing . People’s thoughts were contorted . But at that time , Emily had the self—consciousness about women . In modern times , women play more and more important roles in the society .
The tendency that women need free character , self—pursuit and the equity of male and female is overwhelming . Furthermore , the successful road of self—pursuit depends on ego . So , I think the novel Wuthering Heights is a classical novel of the love . It is also one of the greatest novels in the English literature .Bronte .
Family Master : Wuthering Heights［M］. San Diego : Central Compilation & Translation Press ,2004
E .L .Gilbert . Family Master : Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights［M］ . San Diego : Simon & Schuster, 2002