Do you feel that 'Wuthering Heights' celebrates the perfect love between Catherine and Heathcliff or do you see their love as deeply flawed?

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Do you feel that ‘Wuthering Heights’ celebrates the perfect love between Catherine and Heathcliff or do you see their love as deeply flawed? With particular emphasis on chapters 6, 9 and 11, discuss how Brontë uses language and structure to present their relationship and what we learn about the characters.

‘Wuthering Heights’ was the only novel Emily Brontë had written. It was written in 1846 but published in 1847, under the pseudonym Ellis Bell, because people didn’t acknowledge that a woman could have written a novel like ‘Wuthering Heights’. Lord Byron and Mary Shelley influenced Emily Brontë in writing Wuthering Heights, as the novel exposes themes from both writers. Both Lord Byron and Mary Shelley used gothic and romantic language and themes, which were shown throughout ‘Wuthering Heights’ as well.

In this essay I will be exploring the love between Heathcliff and Catherine, and how Heathcliff’s love for Catherine differs from Catherine’s love for Heathcliff.

Also, how Brontë uses language and structure to present their relationship and what we learn about the characters.

Brontë presents Heathcliff as caring about Catherine. ‘”When would you catch me wishing to have what Catherine wanted?”’ Heathcliff wants to keep Catherine cheerful and content.

Brontë describes Heathcliff in such a way that the reader has both pity and hatred for him. ‘“Miss Earnshaw scouring the country with a gipsy!”’Heathcliff was bullied and degraded as a child because of his appearance and for him being an orphan, which could cause the reader to have sympathy for him. Heathcliff uses Isabella, by having a relationship with her and intending to marry her, confident that Thrushcross Grange will become his. ‘“She’s her brother’s heir, is she not?”’ Heathcliff enquired Catherine to assure him that Thrushcross Grange can become his, which could cause the reader to dislike him.

The language which Brontë uses, enables us to learn that Heathcliff has a soft side to him as well as a hard side, which Brontë has presented throughout the first few chapters of ‘Wuthering Heights’. ‘“I got a stone and thrust it between his jaws, and tried with all my might to cram it down his throat.”’ Heathcliff risks his own health to try and save Catherine from the dog and will not leave her side, until Mr Linton forces him away, which shows he cares deeply about her.

Brontë depicted Heathcliff, as a child, as a boy who barely spoke and never cried when Hindley harmed him, so we are surprised at the language Heathcliff uses and the depth he goes into about his feelings for Catherine.

The way Brontë displays their relationship gives the reader the speculation that they have a committed emotional relationship rather than a physical. ‘”He is more myself than I am.”’ Catherine conveys how she truly feels about Heathcliff to Nelly. She feels as though her and Heathcliff are the same person. The effect, their relationship so far, creates is that they are genuinely close and it is possibly ‘real love’ between them but not a ‘perfect love’.

Brontë gives no evidence that this is a ‘perfect love’. This could be a perfect love but we would never know, because Catherine starts to put Edgar before Heathcliff. ‘”The crosses are for the evenings you have spent with the Linton’s, the dots for those you have spent with me-“’ Heathcliff begins to realise that Catherine spends more time with Edgar than she does him and that her and Edgar’s relationship starts to surpass his own relationship with Catherine.

Brontë arranges it so that when Heathcliff comes home without Catherine, it makes Nelly question him about Cathy’s whereabouts. ‘”Where is Miss Catherine?”’ It is a good narrative device because Nelly gets the full story, of Wuthering Heights, from everyone’s point of view and the reader gets to discover how this occurs.

Brontë presents Catherine as passionate about Heathcliff. When Heathcliff ran away Catherine was extremely troubled by his absence. ‘Meanwhile, Catherine paced up and down the floor, exclaiming: “I wonder where he is?” ’ Catherine starts to think that the reason why Heathcliff ran away is because he overheard her saying it would degrade her to marry him.

Catherine is not a very likeable character in this chapter, because Brontë gives us the impression that Catherine is selfish since she only wanted to marry Edgar to help Heathcliff to rise, so Heathcliff was someone reasonable enough for her to marry. ‘”Whereas, if I marry Linton I can aid Heathcliff to rise.”’ Catherine clarifies to Nelly that if she married Heathcliff they should be beggars but if she married Linton she would be rich and would help Heathcliff to get rich. ‘”I want to cheat my uncomfortable conscience, and be convinced that Heathcliff has no notion of these things.”’ Nelly tells Catherine that she thinks Heathcliff heard some of what Catherine said.

Brontë doesn’t enable us to empathise with Catherine because she is exposed as self-centred and status conscious. ‘”It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now.”’ She thinks it would demean her to marry Heathcliff so she marries Edgar instead which would give her a higher status.

We learn that Catherine and Heathcliff’s relationship currently is falling to pieces, as Catherine wants to marry Edgar not Heathcliff. Catherine doesn’t tell Heathcliff that she is only marrying Edgar to help him. Therefore giving Heathcliff the idea that Catherine doesn’t love him anymore and would prefer Edgar over him. ‘He had listened till he heard Catherine say it would degrade her to marry him, and then stayed to hear no further.’ Heathcliff overheard Catherine talking to Nelly about him.

Brontë describes Heathcliff and Catherine’s relationship as not ideal, because although Catherine has deep internal feelings for Heathcliff she also reveals her feelings for Edgar, which interferes with her and Heathcliff’s relationship. ‘”I love all his looks, and all his actions, and him entirely.”’ Nelly questions Catherine about her feelings for Edgar. At this point Catherine and Heathcliff start to pull away from each other.

Catherine’s feelings don’t differ from Heathcliff’s because they both seem to love each other to the same extent; they would do anything for each other. ‘”I’ve no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in heaven; and if the wicked man in there had not brought Heathcliff so low, I shouldn’t have thought of it.”’ Catherine sacrifices herself by marrying Edgar, when we suppose she didn’t want to, to help Heathcliff rise so she could marry him.

Brontë organizes it so that Catherine accepts Edgar, when he asked her to marry him, but now she is uncertain that she has made the right choice, because she has feelings for Heathcliff as well. ‘”I accepted him, Nelly; be quick, and say whether I was wrong!”’ Catherine confides in Nelly, for her opinion, on marrying Edgar instead of Heathcliff.

Brontë presents Heathcliff as sadistic to those beneath him. ‘”You are welcome to torture me to death for your amusement, only, allow me to amuse myself a little in the same style-“’ Heathcliff reveals to Cathy how she has ill-treated him and how he plans his vengeance. He says to Catherine you can make me suffer for your enjoyment but let me do the same to Isabella and those below me for my enjoyment.

Brontë presents Catherine as loyal to Heathcliff. When Catherine and Edgar are arguing, she defends Heathcliff. ‘”Heathcliff! But, go – make haste! I’d rather see Edgar at bay than you.”’ She tells Heathcliff to go before he gets harmed by Edgar’s men. We are not surprised by Catherine and Heathcliff’s actions because we already know they love each other genuinely so it was obvious that they both was going to turn against Edgar.

The language which Brontë uses suggests to us that they got to say what they really think about each other. ‘”I want you to be aware that I know you have treated me infernally---infernally!”’ Heathcliff tells Catherine that he knows she has mistreated him. The effect this creates is that we know they think very highly of each other but they are not blinded by love and can see the bad in each other as well.

Throughout the study of the three chapters in ‘Wuthering Heights’ I have revealed that Catherine and Heathcliff’s love is neither a perfect love nor a deeply flawed love. Catherine and Heathcliff are very much the same person, because they are so close, which causes them to collide with one another and have arguments most of the time; nevertheless they are so much alike that they are perfect for each other. In the Victorian times this relationship would be seen as traditional, because in those times the only way you could get recognition, especially for a woman, was to have high status or be wealthy; which was why Catherine married Edgar. In modern day times, most people won’t marry someone for status particularly if they genuinely loved someone else. So in this day, Catherine would’ve most probably married Heathcliff.

Bibliography: Penguin Classics 'Wuthering Heights'.