Wuthering heights; Emily Brönte

Literatura inglesa decimonónica. Narrativa y novela victoriana # Romanticism. Characters: Heathcliff

  • Enviado por: Marie AmuntBEP
  • Idioma: inglés
  • País: España España
  • 11 páginas
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Wuthering Heights is one of the works specifically of the Victorian period considered by many people a trascendental masterpiece of the English Literature caused, to a large extent, by the charactser's psychology. This Emily Brönte's literary work presents considerable differences to concern to the main director lines of Victorian period, creating in her work a own world which takes root in the tradition.

This also may be one of the reasons because this novel can be considered a masterprice. Although also during much time the critics discredited Wuthering Heights, beacuse the intensity of its feeling and the brutality of the characters, the primitive energies of love and hatred which impregnate the novel were judged like brutals and crude by the critics of XIX.

One of the characters of the work, in my opinion, who arouses more interest in the reader is Heathcliff. Because this, I prepare to analyze this character and I try to show why this person arouses the reader and how this is achieved by Brönte in the next sheets.

This analysis will be clasified in three essential parts:

  • In this first point we will analyse all the circumstances that occur to Heathcliff, his answers and the vision this give to the reader.

  • The second point it is an analysis of the symbolism of the behaviours of Heathcliff oriented to what the reader can see.

  • The third point of this paper will be directed to the intention that the author had when she wrote her work and its causes. We won't ever know exactly how she could conceive that world of Wuthering Heights, but behind of her evident solitude, it had to exist a mysterious and always alive interior activity, like her poems show.

We will finish the paper with a brief conclusion of this analysis.

First period

  • Heathcliff's childhood passes from the beginning to the end with a constant presence of marginalization caused mainly for the racism by other people. And he always was being ill-treated by his own family. He grows up in a house basically without support: firstly his father was only his support and the hatred of the rest of the family. Although, later, the friendship (and the love) with Catherine will born.

During this period, the reader takes pity on Heathcliff. The main reasons are the marginalization and the abuse that the main character suffers, and its answer, that in this period, he doesn't seem to be a problem child, he is a passive child though he has being ill-treated -that incites the reader, like Mss. Dean related, to think Heathcliff has been ill-treated before. This not only causes the reader feels sorry but also it creates that the reader feels accomplice to Heathcliff.

One example is the action where the main character want to change the horse with Hindley, that he threatens him to tell his parent Hindley abused of him if he doesn't want to change the horse. Here, although we know that Heathcliff is acting badly, we understand his attitude and its negative with Hindley because he has abused of the main character, and we took pity on Heathcliff.

  • This pity on Heathcliff could be more palpable in the second half of this period, when now the main character is not a child but has grown.

This period is marked by the die of his father, his protector. Later this, Hindley makes Heathcliff a servant. But this doesn't matter to Heathcliff, because he continues passive. It also we have to point out the carelessness that Heathcliff and Catherine grew up with.

The reader continues feeling sorry with Heathcliff. The reader sees a child that can't cultivate his mind and is forced to be a servant.

  • In this time, the love between Heathcliff and Catherine was born. This love could be seen as the way out for the main character from the marginalization and the suffering of everyday in Wuthering Heights. Indeed, Mss. Dean related that when the two characters were together, they forget all punishments.

The idea of romantic hero begins here. In fact, in one occasion Heathcliff saves Catherine from the Linton's dog and this family, instead of be grateful with him, they humiliate him when his friend is present. Later, we will see Heathcliff hurts people humiliate him. So, now it is not as passive as before. This will make we, the readers, continue feeling sorry on Heathcliff and his solitude.

As example, we can see that when Catherine returns and they meet again, he doesn't want to stain her dress and he goes out to the marshes. He is angry with Catherine, he feels that she has humiliate him. Later, he thinks over and decides to be good-looking for Catherine. We see him very animated, and we wait for an amazing moment between them. But, we find that his one illusion has been broken down because, Edgar Linton has humiliated him again. And Hindley punishes him for having attacked him, and all this dislikes Catherine.

This makes the reader feels sorry again with Heathcliff, because he can't find his way out from the hell of Wuthering Heights. When Heathcliff says that he avenge from Hindley, the reader will understand him and he will be an accomplice.

Second period

  • This second period is marked after the die of Hindley's wife. Now, Heathcliff will grow up in absolutely abandon and more marginalization and he will be ill-treated yet. The reader sees that he continues living in Wuthering Heights for Catherine, and he forgets every punishment when he is with her. This promotes the idea of romantic hero. And also the moment when Mss. Dean relates that Heathcliff want to study for being as clever as Catherine is. And also he counts the days he passes with her. But when he hears Catherine saying that she wouldn't marry him because she would lower herself, he leaves Wuthering Heights. The reader can see the only thing that made Heathcliff stay there was Catherine, so when he lost her, he leave his life there.

Third period

  • When he returns from Gimmerton he is a good-looking man, without mark of inferiority, with good modals. It's a romantic moment when Catherine and Heathcliff meet again, and they kiss. We really don't know why he has returned to Wuthering Heights, although Mss. Dean relate he wants to sort one thing out with Hindley. When all seems to be good, Edgar Linton, Catherine's husband, argues with Heathcliff, and he wants to avenge from Edgar, so Heathcliff decides to escape with his sister.

The author begins to break the idea of romantic hero of Heathcliff, and the reader notes it. He abuses of Isabel, and we know it by means of Mss. Dean. Really, the reader knows that all he is doing is done for Catherine's love. He feels humiliated.

When Catherine and Heathcliff meet again, she accuses him of his illness and she admits her love for him. They kiss and discuss. She is ill, so when she is unsettled, she gets worse. So that night she died. This, make the reader feel sorry on Heathcliff again, because when he has her love, she die and we think he can't be happy again.

Fourth period

  • After Catherine's die, he is very sad and he felts annoying by all things Catherine tell him before die. We can see his hatred doesn't make him a killer, because when Hindley was hurt, he dresses him. This is maybe a point.

Twelve years later, we don't see the romantic hero that was Heathcliff. He continues being an avenger. He claims his son, Linton, and want he has all the money of Lintons. The reader thinks Heathcliff has become a mean, a cruel, a despot and the only thing that he can live with is with the desire of avenge and the idea he will return with Catherine after life. She became crazy for love. She believe to see Catherine's phantom, he exhume his body, etc. But he is happy when he feels he is going to die, because he would stay with his love again.

From my point of view, during the work the reader associates Heathcliff to the idea of romantic hero.Now we will see as Heathcliff have a strong influence

of the romantic thought of Emily Brontë from their idea of Freedom, the the revolt spirit, the subjetivism, the melancholy, etc. We will see these aspects taht the reader sees one by one to be able to have one more aclearer vision on the matter.

  • Idea of freedom:

Heathcliff also has the idea of freedom. He was opressed by Hindley, who was treating him as an animal and was giving him a bad treat since the day he arrived to Wuthering Heights due to the fact that his father had replaced him by the main character as soon as the father adopted him.

This oppression led Heathcliff to not supporting any more the situation, for what one day escapes of Wuthering Heights and does not return until three years later, when he is a remade man.

  • Subjectivity and Melancholy

The clear example of a false reality in Wuthering Heights is Heathcliff's case. His real reality is the following one: He loves Catherine deeply, and she loves him, but they are not together because in spite of this love that exists, she does not want to be with him and also she is married with Edgar, a man who has everything what Heathcliff does not have: Money, power, class.

He on having evaded this is creating his own reality, where he believes that for the fact of loving Catherine, she belongs to him as if it was an object, this way he becomes possessive with her. This produces more rejection on the part of Catherine, and there it is when the shock of realities takes place. As result, Heathcliff suffocates in melancholy on having known that it is not corresponded.

  • Spirit of Rebelliousness:

This spirit is born as consequence of the anxieties of freedom that we saw previously. This meets reflected in Heathcliff, who as we saw, he was opressed by Hindley, Heathcliff escapes leaving everything behind and without importing anything for him, it is there where we can see his act of rebelliousness.

  • Feeling of solitude:

This happens when the character feels isolated from the daily life, and wants to incorporate to it. This feeling arises from the opposition between fantasy and reality, when a shock happens among the real reality and the false one.

Heathcliff was feeling like that. Catherine, her only love, was not corresponded and she was out of his scope, since she was married. Apart from her, the only person who at some time love him was Mr. Earnshaw, his adoptive father, heon having died, left him in Hindley's hands.

He was feeling alone and needed someone who was supporting him. Even Nelly never wanted him very much and she showed indifference.

  • The love and the death:

Heathcliff associates love and death. The love attracts the romantic as route of knowledge, as pure feeling, faith in the life and top of the art and the beauty. He increases his thirst of infinite, though he will never reach his harmony.

The romantic loves the love for the love itself, and this precipitates him to the death and taht makes him wish it, discovering in it a beginning of life, and the possibility of turning the death into life: the death of love is a life, and the life without love is a death.

In the romantic love there is an acceptance of the self-destruction, of the tragedy, because in the love the hope in appearing again is deposited. In the love all the romantic revolt is incarnated. In the death, the romantic soul finds the liberation of the opression.

  • This also supports the idea of romantic hero:

Heathcliff is a many faced character, in his early years he is characterised somewhat by his fiery temper, his proud nature, his fierce attachment to Catherine, his spitefulness and his capacity for hatred.

The adult Heathcliff, who returns to Wuthering Heights after a three year absence, is a super-human villain driven by revenge, distorted by the sense of the wrongs done to him and made emotionally unstable by Catherine's marriage.

This later Heathcliff is characterised by callousness by an incapacity to love and eventually by an all-consuming passion for revenge against those who have wronged him and for unification with his beloved Catherine.

After we have seen the previous thing, we can say that basically what Emily Brönte tries is to call the attention by means of Heathcliff and she tries to break with the established model of romantic hero of works of her time, where many characteristics analysed previously predominated like the freedom idea, the solitude, the melancholy, the revolt, the sentimentality, etc.

In the beginning the author constructs Heathcliff like the prototype of romantic hero, a welcomed idea by the readers of its time; and later, she will destroy this image breaking with romantic canons.

Of course, Brönte obtains her intention. Let see examples, this time by means of appointments, of how she is able to form the idea of romantic hero:

“I had Cathy by the hand, and was urging her on, when all at once she fell down. "Run, Heathcliff, run!" she whispered. "They have let the bull-dog loose, and he holds me!" The devil had seized her ankle, Nelly: I heard his abominable snorting. She did not yell out - no! she would have scorned to do it, if she had been spitted on the horns of a mad cow. I did, though: I vociferated curses enough to annihilate any fiend in Christendom; and I got a stone and thrust it between his jaws, and tried with all my might to cram it down his throat. “

Here we see how the author shows us Heathcliff as a brave who is able to defend Catherine, his lover, of the dog of the Lintons. This makes think the reader that he is a hero because would be able to face everything by the love of Catherine.

`Nothing - only look at the almanack on that wall;' he pointed to a framed sheet hanging near the window, and continued, `The crosses are for the evenings you have spent with the Lintons, the dots for those spent with me. Do you see? I've marked every day.'

In this occasion, the author shows a Heathcliff lover of detail and worried about the time that he stays with his lover. And although he pretends to be wild, neglected, etc. he is a warm personage at heart, although it does not seem it, he concerns all things that happen around him that they have to do with Catherine.

These are only two examples of how the author constructs the

idea of romantic hero. Also it is possible to emphasise that the permanence in Wuthering Heights of Heathcliff is in favour just only of Catherine. In fact, when he listens to her saying that if married with him it would reduce, it is when he decides to leave to Gimmerton.

Later, Perhaps Emily Brönte will break this idea of romantic lover, in order to break with the established things, perhaps to make the work more interesting or to perhaps show until where this hero is able to arrive by love. In fact, their main enemies are Hindley and Edgar, who Heathcliff wanted to take revenge, and it can that everything is based on jealousy and rages, and that everything derives from its love by Catherine. He feels jealousy for Edgar and hates Hindley, although we remember that at the beginning of the work, Hindley punishes to Heathcliff to fight itself with Edgar, locking up and obtaining the misfortune of Catherine.

In spite of the attempt to break its facet of hero, she is able to show the naked love. And the author doesn't paint the love like it is painted generally, but she paints the gross and difficult part of the love.

“I'll tell you what I did yesterday! I got the sexton, who was digging Linton's grave, to remove the earth off her coffin lid, and I opened it. I thought, once, I would have stayed there: when I saw her face again - it is hers yet! - he had hard work to stir me; but he said it would change if the air blew on it, and so I struck one side of the coffin loose, and covered it up: not Linton's side, damn him! I wish he'd been soldered in lead. And I bribed the sexton to pull it away when I'm laid there, and slide mine out too; I'll have it made so: and then by the time Linton gets to us he'll not know which is which!' “

Here we have seen until where Heathcliff's love arrives. Until the point of not letting the deceased rest, to have the necessity to lie next to her after dead. Even her corpse seems to him pretty, after twelve years.

“Now, I perceived he was not looking at the wall; for when I regarded him alone, it seemed exactly that he gazed at something within two yards' distance. And whatever it was, it communicated, apparently, both pleasure and pain in exquisite extremes: at least the anguished, yet raptured, expression of his countenance suggested that idea. The fancied object was not fixed, either: his eyes pursued it with unwearied diligence, and, even in speaking to me, were never weaned away. I vainly reminded him of his protracted abstinence from food: if he stirred to touch anything in compliance with my entreaties, if he stretched his hand out to get a piece of bread, his fingers clenched before they reached it, and remained on the table, forgetful of their aim. “

This is another demonstration of that love that Brönte shows in her work. A love that causes Heathcliff becomes crazy, and although it is not said explicitly, Mss. Dean has noticed it. It is here when the reader thinks that the protagonist is seeing the ghost of his love, and it agrees with the romantic idea of love and death that feeds the hopes of Heathcliff to meet again with his love.

Really, the author, with all this, obtains that its work has a great impact on the readers. And although it was considered a coarse work, gross and wild at her time, nowadays it is considered one of the most important works of English Literature. Perhaps by the treatment of the love, sight from another grosser point of view.

It is possible that the serious circumstances that the author had

lived, and its deep solitude took her to communicate its feelings by this

form, pressed by the male chauvinist society of the time.

The romanticism is an artistic, policy, social and ideological revolution, so important that still today many people live on their principles: freedom, individualism, democracy, nationalism, vindication of the feelings and the passion, etc.

Brönte conceives for herself and in herself a soul that intensely

experiences the love by the nature, that it is consumed in her emotions and her pains, and at heart always looks for herself in everything what she does.

For her, the romanticism supposes a rupture with a tradition, with a previous order and a hierarchy of cultural and social values, in name of an authentic freedom. It is projected in all the arts and it constitutes the essence of

modernity.

Nevertheless, she understands that in the interior of the man different forces act. In addition to her revolt against the order of the inherited world, she is against to the separation between reason and feeling, between real and the unreal thing.

The Nature is not an object, but an organic all, alive. Her romantic “me” rejects to comprise of the Nature like one more a piece

of its gear, and, for that reason, it points out its individuality, its creative and transforming capacity of its interior, and it raises a relation with the Nature like a communication of the One to the Whole.

She transforms the instinct into art and the unconscious in knowledge. She wants to fuse to the subject with the artistic work, "me" in "not-me", the One with the Whole. Creating, for the romantic ones like her, means to come near to its truth, to the last dimension of the being.

All this shapes it in its work Wuthering Heights and its main character Heathcliff. By this mean she is able to attract the ateción of the reader and the

great majority of the critical, that they described it as a masterpiece.