The Chain of Love and Cruelty in Bronte's Wuthering Heights Essay

The Chain of Love and Cruelty in Bronte's Wuthering Heights Essay

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Bronte, The author of the Wuthering Heights, expresses many themes and morals in her book. The one most important in the Wuthering Heights is the theme of love and cruelty. The main characters, Catherine and Heathcliff, show these actions time and time again. They occur because of the other, much like the yin and the yang. Love leads to cruelty and cruelty leads to love. In Wuthering Heights, there are two different types of love shown: platonic and passionate. Both of these types of love lead to cruelty to other characters. As Heathcliff states boldly within the first few chapters of the novel, love’s cruelty survives even beyond death. “Cathy, do come. Oh do – once more! Oh! My heart’s darling; hear me this time, Catherine, at last!” (28)
Platonic love, as shown between Edgar and Isabella, leads to enough cruelty in its own. However, we first see this kind of cruel love between Mr. Earnshaw, Hindley, Catherine, and Heathcliff at the Earnshaw household. To better understand the intense rivalry between the Earnshaw family members, it is best to know that Mr. Earnshaw took in Heathcliff after finding him lost on the way home from a trip. Nelly, the household maid at the time, described his finding as, “…was a tale of his seeing it starving and homeless, and as good as dumb in the streets of Liverpool.” (36) Mr. Earnshaw then recognizes, as time goes on, that there is much more promise to Heathcliff than there is to his son, Hindley. Thereafter, he begins to treat Heathcliff with more love and attention than both of his own children. “He took to Heathcliff strangely, believing all he said… and petting him far above Cathy.” (37-38). This favoritism leads to Hindley and Catherine being physically abusive to Heathcliff, even more ...


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... Heathcliff knew it would. Even on Catherine’s deathbed, there is a constant push and pull (in almost a literal sense) of the cruelty that goes on between the two of them. Between the crying, the vexing, and the constant apologies, comes the brutal cruelty of the words Catherine speaks to Heathcliff. “I shall not pity you, not I. You have killed me – and thriven on it, I think.” (164)
Only towards the end of the book does Catherine’s curse of cruelty really end. Cathy Linton-Heathcliff marries Hareton Earnshaw to end the three-generation long chain of tragedy. There are many events in Wuthering Heights that make love lead to cruelty and back again. There is a platonic love between Edgar and Isabella; while there is a more passionate hateful love between Catherine and Heathcliff. All four of these characters die in a tragic way – the only real way to end the circle.

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