This passage is indicative of the depths to which Heathcliff has sunk. The quote elucidates his character as he descends into being an abusive father. Heathcliff views his son as a tool to be used to gain property, referring to Linton as "mine," not in the sense of paternal love but because Linton can be "prospective owner of your place." Heathcliff means by this that he wants Thrushcross Grange, not for the money or even the status, but as a means to secure symbolic vengeance and power over Edgar. Linton's name becomes increasingly symbolic at this time.
Heathcliff also reveals the depth of his anger, sorrow, loneliness, and despair in this passage. The reader wonders if he is actually truthful when he states, "I despise him for himself, and hate him for the memories he revives!" Heathcliff must feel a lot of dredged up emotions upon encountering Linton, who he had not raised until this point and who reminds him of his losing Catherine. Bronte achieves ambiguity in this scene by hinting that Heathcliff still retains some of his humanity. Beneath the awful, misanthropic, almost psychopathic exterior lies a man who remains deeply insecure and deeply hurt.
Bronte has Heathcliff stress the words "mine" and "MY" to show that Heathcliff has turned completely in on himself, shutting out the world. As soon as Catherine married Edgar, Heathcliff had started to close himself off from others. Not being able to open his heart to his own son, and only thinking of himself, shows just how damaged the man had become.
Heathcliff is also self-aware. Bronte shows this by having him state outright, "I want the triumph of seeing…my child hiring their children to till their father's lands for wages." Here, Heathcliff makes it clear that he feels utterly defeated; otherwise he would not cling so terribly to an illusory "triumph." Likewise, Heathcliff blames Edgar and all the Linton family excessively for his lot in life, as he wants to curse generations there to come.
2. Catherine feels an inexplicable love for Linton. He is clingy, moody, and weak, and perhaps these faults are actually what make Catherine like him. In this passage, Bronte shows that Catherine possesses much compassion and kindness, because she does not actually look down on Linton at all. She sees him as being inextricably tied to her destiny.
When she states, "He'll never...
It seems that Catherine might be the only one who can and ever will understand poor Linton. Catherine pities him for his inability to make friends, but rightfully attributes that fault to his persona. It is not something Linton can help, or that he has any control over. She stats that he will never be at ease himself; Linton is not comfortable in his own skin. He has a "distorted nature" that is no fault of his own.
Although the scene is technically about Linton and his character, Bronte wants readers to identify with Catherine in this scene. It is Catherine's character that is being developed; Linton does not change much during his short life. Catherine's ability to forgive and have compassion on Linton far surpasses her mother's, which is one of the purposes of this passage. The passage parallels interactions that Catherine's mother had with people like Heathcliff, who she had viewed as being beneath her. Catherine the younger is deeper and more thoughtful, kinder and far more humane and mature than her mother. This scene encapsulates the way Catherine can be at once willing o acknowledge her slight disgust at Linton's physical and psychological condition, and also her ability to have an open heart.
3. Heathcliff reveals to Nelly his sinister grand scheme in which he manipulates all the children: Catherine, and especially the two boys Hareton and Linton, his own son. This scene is tragic. Yet it also shows how Heathcliff's behavior and his attitudes were formed long ago. Heathcliff is a victim of his own circumstance. The reader wishes he were stronger and more able to rise above the tragedy of his situation, to pass on strong moral character and good values to his son and his adopted son Hareton. Unfortunately, Heathcliff cannot see past himself. Like his lover Catherine, he is short-sighted and selfish.
Heathcliff sees himself as being constrained by social class, which is why he wants so badly to usurp the property ownership of the Linton manor. His reference to gold being used as a paving stone refers mainly to his transformation of Hareton from one of relatively high social status to being nothing more than a servant. The opposite is true for his son Linton, who he compares with tin being polished to resemble gold. The tin symbolizes the low birth caste, and Heathcliff wants to groom his son into being the heir of Thrushcross.
This is one of my favorite passages in this portion of the novel because it directly addresses the role of class in Wuthering Heights. Through the eyes of young Catherine, class does not seem to matter much in her life because she has only known privilege. Like her mom, she is lucky by birth. However, unlike her mom, Catherine does not seem self-conscious about social class or restricted by it. Ironically, Heathcliff was victimized by his low birth, and the social stratification that governs his society. Yet it is he who ends up clinging to class issues more than any other character. Heathcliff becomes obsessed with power as if to compensate for what he…
Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre have captured the imagination of successive generations of critics, from the time they were published till today. Widely acclaimed, these two novels continue to literally mesmerize scholars as the harbingers of a unique literary genre of romance in a gothic drama setting, which is related with harsh vitalism and lack of moral zeal. More than their technical aspects, however, a review of the critical literature on
Mother in Wuthering Heights" by Margarret Homans, and "Myths of Power: A Marxist Study on Wuthering Heights" by Terry Eagleton, rely very heavily on their respective critical paradigms in their analysis of Bronte's novel. In some ways, to fully understand the intricacies of their arguments the reader must be steeped in the rhetoric and discourse of Marxist and Feminist criticism. However, that being said, I believe Eagleton's article provides