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Wuthering Heights: There Can Be No Substitute For True Love

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Anthony Angelini

Mrs. Stuebi

World Literature 2

17 April 2007

Wuthering Heights: There can be no Substitute for True Love

Seeking vengeance can go on for eternity. Searching for true happiness and what true love is can shape any individuals life. These themes of vengeance, stature, and love are expressed in the novel Wuthering Heights. Catherine and Heathcliff show how social standards and becoming consumed with revenge can lead to devastation in true love. In Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte expresses how social status and revenge are poor substitutes for true love.

First, the characters devastation is expressed through the ongoing conflict of love. The characters true love is always surrounded by devastation and heart ache. Catherine's devastation begins when she rejects love in order to meet up to the standards of the society that surrounds her. The love story between Catherine and Heathcliff begins when they are children. Heathcliff is brought to the Earnshaw household by Catherine's father. The Earnshaw family lives at Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff comes into their lives as an orphan wanting to be loved. Heathcliff is shown love in many ways. Heathcliff immediately becomes apart of the family, and is treated as a son by Mr. Earnshaw. Heathcliff is also shown love by Earnshaw's daughter Catherine. Catherine and Heathcliff are inseparable as children. They share many of the same interests, and are often compared to as soul mates by the maids of the household. Their perfect world is destroyed when they decide to go on one of their many adventures. This particular journey takes them to Thrushcross Grange to pull pranks on the Linton children, Isabella and Edgar. Catherine twists her ankle, and the Linton family nurses her back to health. During her stay at Thrushcross Grange, Catherine becomes closer to Edgar Linton. Edgar is known for his family's wealth, and fits the perfect picture that the English society paints. As her stay increases, Catherine agrees to marry Edgar Linton. By their marriage, Catherine knows that she will inherit the same social stature as her husband. This merely begins Catherine's devastation of love.

As the novel continues, Catherine realizes that she cannot have the love she longs for from Heathcliff after her marriage to Edgar Linton. Catherine's desire for social advancement does not allow her to achieve true love. When Catherine finally realizes she will never have true love she becomes ill. Her illness is due to the overwhelming heartbreak after Heathcliff's marriage to Isabella Linton. Catherine's illness proves where her heart truly lies. Catherine knows that Heathcliff would not marry a Linton for love. Catherine states, "I know he couldn't love a Linton; yet he'd be quite capable of marrying your fortune" (Bronte 102). Catherine tells this to Edgar, who finally realizes that his wife does not love him as whole heartedly as he thought. Edgar now knows Catherine's true feelings and begins to become more distant to Catherine, even as she becomes weaker in sickness. The love Catherine has for Heathcliff differs greatly from the feelings she expresses toward Edgar. The love Catherine and Heathcliff share is expressed throughout the entire novel. The travesty sets in when the love they share can never be expressed because of Catherine's longing to fit into the standards of society. This is why she chose to marry Edgar. Society plays a key role in shaping Catherine's life. Her marriage to Edgar is never happy because she knows she will never love anyone the same way she loves Heathcliff. Catherine's love expresses where her heart lies. Once society steps in Catherine has to change of heart. Catherine's weakness to society is clearly expressed, "Their dedication to one another is possible with the exclusion of society (40)." This quote shows how that if society did not interfere with her fairy tale love story, Catherine would have been able to express the love she has been feeling since childhood.

Furthermore, along with society prying Catherine's love apart, Heathcliff also faces devastations which lead him to live a life full of vengeance. Heathcliff transforms from a helpless orphan to a heart broken cruel man by the end of the novel. As a child, Heathcliff is taken in by Mr. Earnshaw. Hindley, Earnshaw's son becomes jealous of the new member of the family. After the death of Mr. Earnshaw, Hindley takes the opportunity to get vengeance on the man that took his family away from him. Heathcliff is forced to become Hindley's slave in order to uphold his place at Wuthering Heights. This creates further tragedies in Catherine and Heathcliff's relationship. Heathcliff maintaining the status of a slave, makes Catherine second guess her feelings of love toward him. How could she possibly fall in love with a slave? Catherine needs the comforts of social advancement and wealth from a husband, not a slave. Heathcliff's pillaged life is eventually rewarded when he inherits Wuthering Heights after Hindley's death. Heathcliff's downfall continues when he hears of Catherine's marriage to Edgar Linton. Heathcliff immediately finds a way to seek revenge on Catherine for her decision. Heathcliff experiences feelings of betrayal and questions his self worth. Heathcliff feels that the only way to express his feelings for Catherine is by vengeance. Heathcliff seeks revenge on both Edgar and Catherine by marrying Isabella Linton. He knows that his marriage to another woman, let alone Edgar Linton's sister would devastate Catherine's life. In the Literary Encyclopedia, Heathcliff's vengeance is clearly expressed. "Heathcliff's revenge is in part a displacement of his unfulfillable desire for Catherine (32)." Edgar Linton knows that Heathcliff is not marrying his sister out of love. Isabella does not realize this until Catherine becomes sick, and Heathcliff begins to go mad.

After Catherine becomes sick, Heathcliff's transformation begins. The loveable orphan that Mr. Earnshaw brought into his home has transformed into a cruel man willing to live a life of revenge. Heathcliff's revenge is quickly transformed into madness. This madness destroys his marriage with Isabella, and creates travesty in many of the characters lives. Isabella leaves Heathcliff to start a new life. Isabella takes Hareton; Heathcliff's son to go with her. Heathcliff is reunited with his son when Hareton is thirteen. Hareton is forced to live with his father at Wuthering Heights after his mother's death. Heathcliff's marriage to Isabella

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