Often the lifestyles of a person and those around them are affected by one's concern for his/her own welfare and neglect of others. This attitude is a reflection of self-love and a feeling of self-righteousness. In the novel, Wuthering Heights , Emily Brontë describes the lifestyles of late 18th century and early 19th century rural England emphasizing selfishness. From the very beginning, there is an obvious tension between the households at Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. The Heights is the house of the Earnshaws: Mr. and Mrs. Earnshaw, Catherine, Hindley and later Linton and Hareton. The Grange is inhabited by the Lintons: Mr. and Mrs. Linton, Edgar and Isabella. This tension begins with the arrival of Heathcliff, a gypsy orphan. The Earnshaw family, minus Mr. Earnshaw, resents the presence of Heathcliff for he has captured the master's heart. After Mr. Earnshaw's death only one person enjoys Heathcliff's company -- Catherine Earnshaw. The rest of the novel explains how the lives of Catherine and Heathcliff effect everyone around them. Through nightmares, dreams, narration and actions, these characters' tumultuous affairs come alive and seem almost real. Unfortunately, selfishness motivates these characters in their attempts to enjoy life. This selfishness can destroy even the most fortunate.
The first act of selfishness in this novel is committed by Mr. Earnshaw. Before Mr. Earnshaw leaves for Liverpool, he asks his children what they would care for upon his return. They make their requests, and he ventures out. When he returns, he brings but one thing back. The family "crowded round, and . . . had a peep at a dirty, ragged, black-haired ch...
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...ss creeping up its foot; Heathcliff's still bare" (471-472).
Mr. Earnshaw, Catherine and Heathcliff are successful in destroying every life they touch because of their selfishness and self-centered outlook on life. What they want will always be theirs, whatever the cost to others may be. In this story, Brontë depicts the tragic outcomes of those who rely on selfishness. When someone attempts to achieve his/her goals while ignoring the needs of others, he/she loses sight of the dreams and hopes of those around them, including loved ones. Consequently, the selfish eventually destroy themselves and others both emotionally and physically. This utter disregard for others may seem innocuous at first, but the eventual ruin that follows is eternal and irreversible.
Brontë, Emily. The World's Great Classics: Wuthering Heights . New York: Grolier Inc.
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