The Notion of a Double in Wuthering Heights
Brontë's Wuthering Heights is the captivating tale of two families and the relationships that develop between them. The narrator, Mr. Lockwood, relates the story as told to him by Ellen, the housekeeper. The novel contains an excellent illustration of the doppel-ganger, the notion of a double. Generally, this concept is applied to specific characters, as in Poe's William Wilson. However, the concept appears in Wuthering Heights in two different ways. The doppel-ganger is illustrated in the story of Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff in relation to that of Cathy Linton and Hareton Earnshaw, but it is also present in the relationship between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff as individuals.
In Wuthering Heights, it is almost as if the story of Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff is repeated through Cathy Linton and Hareton Earnshaw. There are some discernible differences between these two relationships, but the general outline of the stories share some striking similarities. For example, Heathcliff could not be with Catherine Earnshaw because her brother, Hindley, had reduced him to the status of a brute. After Mr. Earnshaw's death, Heathcliff was treated like a servant instead of a member of the family. Later in the story, Heathcliff does the same thing to Hareton, Hindley's son, but in a subtle way that prevents any animosity on Hareton's part. Hindley loses everything that would have been Hareton's inheritance, leaving Hareton with nothing. Heathcliff takes advantage of the situation and Hindley's wealth is inevitably turned over to Heathcliff. Heathcliff sees p...
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...his funerary plans with Nelly, he says, "I have nearly attained my heaven," meaning that his idea of heaven is to be reunited with Catherine in death. Shortly thereafter, Heathcliff dies alone in a chamber.
The story of the Earnshaws and the Lintons follows many twists and turns. By the end, Cathy and Hareton get a chance at the happiness Catherine and Heathcliff never experienced in life. Brontë's novel is multifaceted and, at times, the reader must struggle to keep up with the story. It can be difficult to perceive the underlying notions going on in the book. Still, there are many details that indicate the doppel-ganger is present not only in the relationship between Catherine and Heathcliff compared to that of Cathy and Hareton, but also in the relationship between Catherine and Heathcliff alone.
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