Heathicliff



Ryan Scadlock
AP English
Ms. Mertens
Wuthering Heights Essay
February 17, 2000
When Wuthering Heights was published it was blasted it’s contemporaries as obscene. They railed that Catherine and Heathcliff were the most immoral and in general worst people they had ever had the misfortune of reading about. Although Wuthering Heights has taken it\'s rightful place as masterwork of 19th century literature and Emily BrontÁ has receive credit for her work, it is still possible to see where the early attacks are based. Heathcliff especially behaves in a very obtuse manner. The basis for this behavior is Heathcliff\'s bizarre love/hate relationship with Catherine. His frustrated desire to be with her causes him deep personal pain, which he transfers to other characters in a sadistic attempt to force them to feel that pain as well.
Heathcliff and Catherine\'s relationship is neither stable nor in any way normal. Instead it is full of violent emotions which are either soaring high or dashingly low, with very little between the two. Catherine declares that she and Heathcliff "Whatever souls are made of, his and mine are the same"(73). Heathcliff desires nothing more than to be with Catherine, but their relationship is undermined by the revelation that Catherine feels that "it would degrade me to marry Heathcliff . . ."(73). Heathcliff was unsuitable to Catherine because he is poor with no family. However, Edgar Linton has both and for those shallow reasons Catherine marries Edgar betraying Heathcliff’s feelings for her and her own feeling as well. Catherine had hoped to marry Edgar but also to keep on loving Heathcliff as well, to "have her cake and eat it too". The violence, hatred, love, and passion of Catherine and Heathcliff’s relationship is encapsulated in their "conversation" on Catherine\'s deathbed:
He [Heathcliff] could hardly bear, for downright agony, to look into her face. . . . She was fated, sure to die.
‘Oh, Cathy! Oh, my life! How can I bear it?’[Heathcliff speaking]
. . . . . . . . . . . .
[Catherine speaking,]‘I shall not pity you, not I. You have killed me—
and thriven on it, I think. . . How
may years do you mean to live on after I am gone?
. . . . . . . . . . . .
I shouldn’t care what you suffered. I
care nothing for your sufferings. Why shouldn’t you suffer? I do!’
. . . . . . . . . . . .
[Heathcliff answers,]‘You know you lie to say I have killed you: . . .
I could as soon forget you as my own existence! Is it not
sufficient for your infernal selfishness, that while you
are at peace I shall writhe in the torments of hell?
. . . . . . . . . . . .
How cruel you’ve been—cruel and
false.
. . . . . . . . . . . .
I have not broken your heart—you have broken it;
and in breaking it have broken mine. . . .
What kind of living will it be when – oh, God! Would you
like to live with your soul in the grave?’(147-48)
Love and hate are so closely entwined that they are both expressed in a single sentence. No one will call that exchange ‘normal’ but it contains the essence of their relationship. Despite the barbs of blame for the situation being thrown there is no doubt that Catherine’s death pains Heathcliff to the very soul.
Heathcliff becomes determined to share the pain caused by Catherine\'s betrayal and her death. The victims of his deranged vengeance are Isabella Linton, Edgar Linton, Linton Heathcliff, and Catherine Linton II. "The more the worms writhe, the more I yearn to crush out their entails!"(140). Clearly a sadistic attitude and one that makes it absolutely clear that Heathcliff\'s marriage to Isabella is a revenge on both Catherine and Edgar. The marriage of Heathcliff to her sister-in-law is emotionally damaging to an already frail Catherine. Edgar, who despises Heathcliff throughout the novel, is shock and very nearly disowns his sister for marrying a ruffian like Heathcliff. So Heathcliff gets vengeance on Edgar as well. Poor Isabella is caught with a man who does not, in fact never, loved her. She writes Nelly, "". There is another motivation for the marriage: money. Though his marriage with Isabella Heathcliff has placed himself in line for