Effective Literary Elements in Wuthering Heights
Critics analyze and examine Wuthering Heights to obtain a deeper understanding of the message that Emily Bronte wants to convey. By focusing on the different literary elements of fiction used in the novel, readers are better able to understand how the author successfully uses theme, characters, and setting to create a very controversial novel in which the reader is torn between opposite conditions of love and hate, good and evil, revenge and forgiveness in Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights. There is no doubt that the use of conflictive characters such as Catherine Earnshaw, Heathcliff, and Edgar, with their interactions in the two different settings creates an excellent background for a doomed love story.
The central theme of Wuthering Heights is a love story that challenges the established social rules in which the protagonists, Catherine and Heathcliff have lived; it is a story that survives the unfortunate choices that both lovers make and even mystically survives Catherine's death. The protagonists fall in love despite the opposition of Hindley Earnshaw. Catherine's attraction for Heathcliff is so strong that she feels compelled go against her brother's wishes and the social class conventions existing at that time. However, after courting for a while, Catherine makes the tragic decision of accepting Edgar Linton's proposal for marriage. This decision brings about a conflictive situation between Heathcliff and both the Earnshaws and the Lintons. One day, Heathcliff overhears Catherine telling Nelly "It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now" (Bronte 59). This comment enrages Heathcliff and he storms out of the house; he comes up with the idea that he needs to gain power in order to be worthy of Catherine's love. However, in the process, Heathcliff loses sight of his love and degenerates into a heartless and cruel man with an infinite craving for revenge.
Surprisingly, Heathcliff is absent for three years from Wuthering Heights. During that time he mysteriously obtains wealth and returns triumphantly. However, at the time of his return Catherine is already married to Edgar Linton. Heathcliff would spend the rest of his life tortured by his separation from Catherine. He becomes so obsessed that he would roam around Thrushcross Grange for days hoping to take her back or take revenge for what she has done to him. Even the day she dies, he is already so mentally deranged that he tries to unearth her body. At that moment, he feels for the first time a "sigh" that he believes to be Catherine's spirit, a presence that would haunt him for the rest of his life. Years later, he reveals to Nelly the terrible situation in which he has been living ever since. He says "she has disturbed me, night and day, through eighteen years - incessantly -remorselessly" (Bronte 211). It seems that the spell is set on her deathbed...