September 17, 2010

Heathcliff Is Human

While I have already read Wuthering Heights I did not read it with a group or class and therefore I was very excited to get the perspective of other readers.  I'm always reading and I thoroughly enjoy reading the classics (my favorite book being Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte) but I am not always the best at interpreting.

When I was reading the student blogs one caught my eye because he made a comparison between Heathcliff and Wuthering Heights that I probably would never have seen.  Andrew said "Wuthering Heights is a novel with many ambiguous interpretations, on of which can be the interesting juxtoposition of two popular subjects of the novel, Heathcliff and Wuthering Heights." He draws our attention to how Emily Bronte draws an obvious likeness between the foreboding image of both Wuthering Heights and Heathcliff right at the beginning of the story.

Andrew goes on to talk about how both Wuthering Heights and Heathcliff bring turmoil and grief to those around them.  I would like to embellish on this line of thought.  I agree that both place and character seem to bring sorrow to those around them but I don't think that this act is necessarily vindictive or intentional, on Heathcliff's part anyway.  It is possible that through Heathcliff's selfishness he causes others pain, but it is obvious that he also feels remorse for his actions.  At the beginning of the book Mr. Lockwood is forced to spend the night at Wuthering Heights due to a bad storm and there he is plagued by what he thinks is a dream of Catherine trying to enter the house through his bedroom window.  He tells Heathcliff about his dream and Heathcliff has a very emotional reaction to this, which Mr. Lockwood witnesses. 

            "He got on to the bed, and wrenched open the lattice, bursting, as he pulled at it, into an uncontrollable passion of tears.  'Come in! come in!' he sobbed.  'Cathy, do come.  Oh do- once more! Oh!  My heart's darling; hear me this time, Catherine, at last!'   (pg. 19)

I believe it is essential to recognize this display of passion from a character who until this point seemed quite devoid of any emotion at all.  At the very beginning of the book we are shown very vivid similarities between Wuthering Heights and Heathcliff, but this is the first point where we are shown a very human characteristic of Heathcliff.  The comparisons that Bronte makes at first draws even more awareness to these displays of affection that Heathcliff obviously has for Catherine.  I think that Bronte makes the comparisons of Heathcliff to Wuthering Heights not only to show the similarities but also to emphasize that Heathcliff is human and no matter how dispassionate he seems it would be impossible for him to remain indifferent all the time.

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