Wuthering Heathcliff's Statement Bears The Stamp Of Book Report

Length: 4 pages Subject: Plays Type: Book Report Paper: #90731530 Related Topics: Emily Bronte, Selfishness, Forgiveness, Love
Excerpt from Book Report :

Wuthering

Heathcliff's statement bears the stamp of both arrogance and insecurity. This passage therefore encapsulates his character. He insults Edgar as being worthless and undeserving of Catherine's love. Heathcliff claims that Edgar is nothing more than Catherine's pet, her "dog" or "horse." The reader knows that on some level Heathcliff is right. Catherine loves Edgar as a friend and companion, certainly, but she does not at all love Edgar in the same deep and passionate way she loves Heathcliff. The fact that Heathcliff is aware of this makes him seem arrogant, but his arrogance is part of his charm. It is also what keeps Heathcliff honest.

However, Heathcliff's anger reveals a deep-rooted insecurity and weakness of character. Heathcliff abandoned Catherine every bit as much as she abandoned him. He did not fight for her love perhaps as much as he could have, and deep down he is furious with himself for not doing so, even if he is too proud to admit that fact. Instead of accepting responsibility and blaming himself consciously, Heathcliff takes out his anger on others. One of the ways he takes out his anger on innocent people is by marrying Isabella, who genuinely loves him and who Heathcliff uses in a terrible way. Heathcliff has a mean streak when he is angry, and seems as petulant as a child as he does when he states "It is not in him to be loved like me: how can she love in him what he has not?" His statement shows that although Heathcliff may be confident and sure that Catherine does love him eternally, he is not sure enough of his own self-worth or his deserving of happiness. This is why he later takes out his anger on Catherine, who is like a direct mirror of his own actions.

Heathcliff also takes out his anger on both Edgar and Catherine. It is understandable that Heathcliff would hate Edgar, and he harbors a deep resentment toward him. Heathcliff's taking over Wuthering Heights is the central means by which he achieves genuine victory and revenge. He lost Catherine. Soon it becomes clear that Heathcliff has actually not lost Catherine's heart.

2. Catherine's words exude her confusion and despair, mingled simultaneously with excitement and passionate love. After their long and bitter separation, for Catherine and Heathcliff to be in each other's company should provide some sort of solace and opportunity for compassion and forgiveness. Yet it seems they will both miss their chance at happiness because each one can only think of themselves. Catherine berates Heathcliff for having changed ("That is not my Heathcliff," she states). She eternally loves the Heathcliff of her memories only: "I shall love mine yet; and take him with...

...

The passage therefore shows that Catherine views Heathcliff as her soul mate, a central motif of the novel. This passage also shows that Catherine can be petulant, as she directs these words not to Heathcliff directly but to Nelly and refers to Heathcliff as if he were not there.

Bronte is careful to have Catherine repeatedly use first person pronouns to underscore her selfishness. First, she says, "That is how I'm loved," focusing all the attention on herself. Then, Catherine states, "That is not my Heathcliff." Bronte stresses the word "my" in this sentence to undoubtedly showcase Catherine's egocentricity. Then, in a remarkable display of first-person pronouns, Catherine states, "I shall love mine yet; and take him with me: he's in my soul." She uses the first person pronoun four times in the one sentence. This is not about Heathcliff or anyone else, but it is about her. She seems to care more about herself and her own drama than about Heathcliff. Her melodrama inadvertently enables the reader to sympathize more with Heathcliff than if Catherine were to be more conciliatory.

3. This passage is filled with the melodrama that characterizes Wuthering Heights in general. It is like reading the screenplay for a soap opera. Heathcliff and Catherine both seem resigned to the latter's death and talk as if they are certain she will die. Heathcliff accuses Catherine of being her own murderer, if not of her body than of her soul. According to Heathcliff, Catherine killed both their souls. She was the one who did "betray your own heart." Heathcliff is right to lash out at Catherine in this way, as he has kept these feelings bottled up inside and indeed, she did betray both herself and Heathcliff. Likewise, Catherine's sickness was self-inflicted and it is becoming certain that she is to die.

The frustrating feature about this passage is that both seem resigned to her death, and neither attempts to rectify the situation. Perhaps they feel that it is too late, but there is really no reason to believe this given the new life Catherine carries in her belly. This passage more than any other makes Wuthering Heights into a tragedy, replete with classical Greek heroes and their tragic flaws of hubris.

Interestingly, this passage can be easily compared and contrasted with what Catherine had said earlier to Nelly, referring to "my Heathcliff." Like Catherine, Heathcliff has a preconceived notion of what "his" Catherine is like, and this is why he felt betrayed by her actions. Unlike Catherine, Heathcliff directs his attention to his love and not to himself. He talks about "your eyes," asks that she kiss him, and even states, "I forgive what you have done." He also suggests that there are two sides to Catherine -- the part of her that he knows loves him, and the part that he wants to kiss and hold onto forever, and also the part that is killing her. Heathcliff wishes that his love could have mended the rift in her soul before it…

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