Essay on Selfishness in "Wuthering Heights"

Essay on Selfishness in "Wuthering Heights"

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Through self-centered and narcissistic characters, Emily Bronte’s classic novel, “Wuthering Heights” illustrates a deliberate and poetic understanding of what greed is. Encouraged by love, fear, and revenge, Catherine Earnshaw, Heathcliff, and Linton Heathcliff all commit a sin called selfishness.

Catherine Earnshaw appears to be a woman who is free spirited. However, Catherine is also quite self-centered. She clearly states that her love for Edgar Linton does not match how much she loves Heathcliff. She is saying that she does love both, and she is unwilling to give one up for the other; she wants “Heathcliff for her friend”. Catherine admits that her love for Linton is “like the foliage in the woods”; however, her love for Heathcliff “resembles the eternal rocks beneath”. She loves Heathcliff and yet she gives him up and marries Linton instead, Catherine believes that if she marries Heathcliff it would degrade and humiliate her socially.

Her selfishness lies within the reality that she married Linton for the things he could have provided for her. Nothing parted Catherine and Heathcliff. Not God, nor Satan, it was Catherine herself – Catherine was the cause of her broken heart. Along with breaking her heart, she also broke Heathcliff’s, which led him to loathe and yearn for vengeance against what Heathcliff thought was the cause of Catherine’s death – her daughter.

Heathcliff is a character who was abused in his childhood by Catherine’s brother, Hindley, because of his heritage as a “gypsy”, and Hindley was jealous of the love that Heathcliff got from Mr. Earnshaw, Hindley’s father. This is also selfishness upon Hindley’s part since he only wanted his father’s love for his sister and himself. So to reprimand Heathcl...


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...troy the lives of Catherine’s daughter and his own son to have revenge against the Linton family.

Linton Heathcliff is only interested in himself. He is a sickly and scared young man. Like his mother Isabella Linton who accused Catherine Earnshaw of selfishly wanting Heathcliff for herself – in which she didn't- Linton enjoys inflicting and watching people suffer. As Heathcliff threatened to kill Linton, Linton only thought about his own life and, decided to betray Cathy, tricking her into staying at Wuthering Heights and getting married to him, instead of returning to Thurshcross Grange to where her father lies on his deathbed.

Within such a work of art, Emily Bronte described and unlocked many truths about how it’s human nature to perform selfish acts. The actions that Catherine, Heathcliff and Linton all completed were out of love, horror, and hatred.

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