Wuthering Heights

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Wuthering Heights

Themes

  • Marriage

  • Revenge

  • Violence

  • Love and Passion

  • Class and Society (Marxist reading)

  • Nature

  • The Other+Supernatural

  • Gothic features

  • Romantic features

  • Contrasts and Mirroring

  • Setting

  • Psychoanalytic

  • Feminism - Role of Women

  • Religion and metaphysics

  • Dreams

  • Narration

Marriage

Kokilan argues that ‘Marriage in Wuthering Heights has little to do with love”.

Marriages in Wuthering Heights

Edgar and Catherine- Societal Marriage not reciprocal affection. Catherine marries him to alleviate her social position , “I will be the greatest woman in the neighbourhood”, “My love for Edgar is like the foliage in the trees time will change it”, although she “is” Heathcliff she can’t marry him as it would, ‘degrade her’ thus going along with societal norms but against herself. Kharnis argues that ,”The conflict caused by Cathy's marriage is resolved only by her death, and the relationship with Heathcliff's projected into the life beyond death”.

Heathcliff and Isabella - Violent Marriage- not reciprocal affection, leads to destruction of female. Isabella says that in her marriage her “first wish was to be killed by him”. Kharnis argues at first she is , “blinded by her love of Heathcliff”, but then realizes his true form -  "Is Heathcliff a man? If so, is he mad? And if not, is he a devil?". She also notes that,” I assure you, a tiger or a venomous serpent could not rouse terror in me equal to that which he wakens" presenting to the reader that their marriage is based in violence. Isabella is regarded as , “infantile in manners” by Nelly it therefore becomes clear to the reader that Heathcliff has taken advantage off her. In the 1851 the Eclectic Review called her, "one of the most silly and credulous girls that fancy ever painted,". Pike names her “a foil to Catherine and an instrument of revenge for Heathcliff”. Isabella’s elopement with Heathcliff is her removal from societal class her brother notes that , "only my sister in name: not because I disown her, but because she has disowned me". As Edgar arguably represents societal values in the novel this is Isabella therefore being rejected by societal class due to her marriage to ‘the Other’. Although critic Nestor argues that in Wuthering Heights Bronte presents herself as not dealing with feminist issues - “In the end Bronte is no feminist”. . I would argue that Heathcliff’s marriage to Isabella does represent the unfairness of the law towards women at the time. Heathcliff admits to Nelly that, he has been careful to , “keep strictly within the limits of the law. I have avoided, up to this period, giving her the slightest right to claim a separation". This seems to be Bronte highlighting to the reader what is wrong with the laws of marriage at the time. As it should be noted that even if she were to show signs of overt physical abuse against her person, the law would not be much help to her. He is well within his rights to imprison her within

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