Wuthering Heights - Themes

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Love

Love is displayed through different perspectives which are domestic, maternal, social, romantic, religious and transcendent

The love shown between Catherine and Heathcliff is a mixture between romance and gothic horror

Love can be combined with violence as Heathcliff lies with Catherine's dead body in the grave -> To add to this Catherine resorts to self-destruction because she refuses to eat and chills herself after seeing Heathcliff and Edgar fighting

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Nature and Culture

Both nature and culture are shown in the relationship between the two houses (Wuthering Heights = nature and Thrushcross Grange = Culture)

Nature is symbolic of how the novel is as you cannot predict what will happen

The culture is shown as equally dangerous and violent as nature

Nature is presented as something which is threatening through metaphors, anecdotes, etc.

'Nelly, you have helped to unsettle me! ... Oh, I'm burning! I wish I were out of doors - I wish I were a girl again, half savage and hardy, and free ... and laughing at injuries, not maddening under them! Why am I so changed?' Page 125 -> Shows connection between self and landscape

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Property and Ambition

Heathcliff turns his frustration into revenge and his power and property also become a driving force within the novel

Heathcliff is very greedy when it comes to wealth, he wants to own both properties and sees Isabella as an easy way of doing this -> 'he'd be quite capable of marrying your fortune' 'Avarice is growing with him a besetting sin' Page 103

Wealth affects Catherine's decision of who she should marry (chooses Edgar over Heathcliff) -> 'And he will be rich, and I shall like to be the gratest woman of the neighbourhood, and I shall be proud of having such a husband' Page 78

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Morality and Education

Joseph continously comments bitterly on the activities of other people

Catherine's marriage is perceived to be sinful which leads to tragedy and evil

Lots of characters do things for each other, for example Nelly's actions influence what occurs within the novel

The denial of education to Heathcliff is seen as punishment and humiliation

Hareton's education can be seen as both good and bad because he learns how to do things with Cathy but at the same time loses his power

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Revenge

One of the main themes of the novel because without it the story would just be about love

When Heathcliff is rejected by Catherine he decides to take revenge on Hindley

Heathcliff's revenge is made easier when Hindley starts to drink and gamble -> 'painting the house-front with Hindley's blood!' Page 49

'I'm trying to setlle how I shall pay Hindley back. I don't care how long I wait, if only I can do it, at last. I hope he will not die before I do!' Page 61

'while I'm thinking of that, I don't feel pain.'

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Family

Families in "Wuthering Heights" are violent, jealous and greedy and they do not fit in with normal expectations

Mr Earnshaw brings Heathcliff home and all the children are nasty to him and hardly anybody takes a liking to him at first

Heathcliff gets his revenge by taking everything that both families have because he isn't accepted by either of them

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The Supernatural

Cathrine Linton's ghost tries to come through the window at Wuthering Heights whilst Lockwood is there -> 'Let me in - let me in!' Page 25

Heathcliff is ridiculed for being dark and unnatural, just like the supernatural -> 'imp of satan' Page 39

Later on Nelly questions whether Heathcliff is a ghoul or vampire -> 'Is he a ghoul, or a vampire?'

The novel ends suggesting that Heathcliff and Catherine will haunt the moors together -> 'They's Heathcliff and a woman, yonder, under t' Nab,'

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Suffering

Heathcliff doesn't suffer physically but emotionally because of his love for Catherine

Isabella marries Heathcliff, aware that he doesn't even love her -> 'your mother was a wicked ****' Page 208

Heathcliff and Catherine are always blaming each other -> 'Misery, and degradation, and death, and nothing that God or Satan could inflict would have parted us, you, of your own will, did it. I have not broken your heart - you have broken it - and in breaking it, you have broken mine.' Pages 162-163

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Foreignness and the Other

Heathcliff feels as if he is an outsider to his adoptive family

To us readers, it is never made clear where Heathcliff has originated from (Mr Earnshaw says he picked him up from Liverpool which is where immigrants came to England)

Heathcliff is described as a 'dark-skinned gypsy' -> Page 5

Nelly makes it clear to us readers that Heathcliff is a foreigner -> 'We don't in general take to foreigners here, Mr Lockwood, unless they take to us first' Page 46

Heathcliff's foreign appearance could be the reason why Catherine fancies him

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Betrayal

Betrayal can be seen when Catherine marries Edgar Linton instead of Heathcliff and because of this, Heathcliff disappears for three years

Heathcliff tells Catherine that she is being disloyal to not only him but also herself -> 'A little more than you have thought of me!' Page 97

Edgar betrays Isabella in a way because he doesn't care about her after running off with Heathcliff -> 'Hereafter she is only my sister in name; not because I disown her, but because she has disowned me.' Page 133

Young Cathy betrays Edgar Linton when she leaves Thrushcross Grange to visit Wuthering Heights

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