Essay on Revenge and Love in Wuthering Heights

1521 Words 7 Pages
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 …show more content…
For proof of this, one needs to look no further than his actions toward Hearton Earnshaw over the course of the Heathcliff’s tenure as master of Wuthering Heights: Heathcliff literally spends most every waking moment reveling in and furthering his domination and maltreatment of Hearton to stick his thumb in the eye of Hindley. While an argument could be made that, Heathcliff's actions toward Cathy are an attempt to win back her favor after being spurned, one would need to look no further than Brontë’s description of Heathcliff’s “mourning” to see how truly and fundamentally wrong this argument is. While it must be ceded that Heathcliff speaks words of sorrow, such as “I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!” [Ch 16, haunt me passage], his tone is so filled with “frightful vehemence” that the narrator, Ellen Dean, cannot help noting “[his display] hardly moved my compassion—it appalled me.” [ch16, haunt me passage]. Even if one was to discount the tone of Heathcliff, there is still ample reason to believe that Cathy’s death frustrated Heathcliff due to his inability to complete his revenge as opposed to his “love”, namely his howling “not like a man, but like a savage beast being goaded to death with knives and spears” [haunt me] and “dash[ing] his head against the knotted trunk”, and his
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