Revenge and Love in Wuthering Heights Essay

Revenge and Love in Wuthering Heights Essay

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A multitude of feelings and sentiments can move a man to action, but in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, love and revenge are the only two passions powerful enough to compel the primary actors. There is consensus, in the academic community,1 that the primary antagonist in the novel, Heathcliff is largely motivated by a wanton lust for vengeance, and it is obvious from even a cursory reading that Edgar Linton, one of the protagonists, is mostly compelled by a his seemingly endless love for his wife, and it even seems as if this is reflected in the very nature of the characters themselves. For example, Heathcliff is described as “Black-eye[d]” [Brontë,1], “Dark skinned” [Brontë, 3] and a “dirty boy” [Brontë, 32]; obviously, black has sinister connotations, and darkness or uncleanliness in relation to the soul is a common metaphor for evil. On the converse, Edgar Linton is described as blue eyed with a perfect forehead [Brontë, 34] and “soft featured… [with] a figure almost too graceful” [Brontë, 40], which has almost angelic connotations. When these features and the actions of their possessors are taken into account, it becomes clear that Edgar and Heathcliff are not merely motivated by love and revenge as most academics suggest, but rather these two men were intended by Brontë to be love and hate incarnate.

There can be no question as to the motivations of Heathcliff for the vast majority of the book, as he is quite clearly obsessed with revenge (Which is nothing unusual in Wuthering Heights2) , be it against his adopted sister Catherine Linton (for denying him her love), his adopted brother Hindley Earnshaw (for years of abuse), his archrival and, to an extent, foil Edgar Linton (for marrying the woman he loved), or the child...

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2. Cross, Wilbur L. "On Wuthering Heights." Bloom's Literature. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 6 Dec. 2013 .
3. Manser, Martin H., David Barratt, Pieter J. Lalleman, and Julius Steinberg. "angels in the Bible." Bloom's Literature. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 6 Dec. 2013
4. Gilbert, Sandra M., and Susan Gubar. "Wuthering Heights and Milton's Satan."Bloom's Literature. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 6 Dec. 2013 .
5. Brontë, Emily. Wuthering Heights. N.p.: Project Gutenberg, 2007. Print. Transcribed from the 1910 John Murray edition by David Price

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