Analysis of Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Wuthering Heights is, in many ways, a novel of juxtaposed pairs:
Catherine’s two great loves for Heathcliff and Edgar; the two ancient
manors of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange; the two families,
the Earnshaws and the Lintons; Heathcliff’s conflicting passions of
love and hate. Additionally, the structure of the novel divides the
story into two contrasting halves. The first deals with the generation
of characters represented by Catherine, Heathcliff, Hindley, Isabella,
and Edgar, and the second deals with their children—young Catherine,
Linton, and Hareton. Many of the same themes and ideas occur in the
second half of the novel as in the first half, but they develop quite
differently. While the first half ends on a note of doom and despair
with Catherine’s death and Heath-cliff’s gradual descent into evil,
the novel as a whole ends on a note of hope, peace, and joy, with
young Catherine’s proposed marriage to Hareton Earnshaw.
In the first of the chapters in this section, we witness the event
that marks the dividing line between the two halves of the novel:
Catherine’s death. The episodes surrounding her passing—her dramatic
illness, her confrontation with Heathcliff, Heathcliff’s conflict with
Edgar, and Heathcliff’s curse upon her soul to walk the earth after
her death (contrasting immediately with Nelly’s gentle claim that she
at last rests in heaven) rank among the most intense scenes in the
book. In fact, many readers view the second half of the novel, in
which Catherine figures only as a memory, as a sort of anticlimax.
While the latter chapters may never reach the emotional heights of the
earlier ones, however, they remain crucial to the thematic development
of the novel, as well as to its structural symmetry.
Young Catherine grows up sheltered at Thrushcross Grange, learning
only in piecemeal fashion about the existence of Heathcliff and his
reign at Wuthering Heights. Unbeknownst to her, Heathcliff’s...