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Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights: Mental Illness And Feminism

1252 words - 6 pages

Psychoanalytical View of Wuthering Heights
Mental illness was viewed as being a self-inflicted disease during the time period Wuthering Heights was written in (Bloomfield 298). Many of the characters suffer from a form of mental illness, but not all of them can be seen as self-inflicted. Most of the illnesses are inflicted by the death of other characters. After Hindley’s wife dies in his arms, he becomes an alcoholic and foreshadows his own death due to his destructive behavior (Bloomfield 291). Hindley’s terminal alcoholism changes his personality, and gambling causes him to lose everything he possessed; including his son. He uses alcohol to suppress the sadness of losing his wife (Bloomfield 295). Hindley’s behavior and alcoholic disposition allows Heathcliff to take over his home and his life simply because he cannot face his past (Bloomfield 291). Hindley’s behavior sets him up to be an alcoholic from the beginning of the novel based on what people believed during this time period (Bloomfield 297). Alcoholism was seen as a self-inflicted disease and was connected to violence, bankruptcy, and family destruction. All of these attributes are congruent to Hindley’s characterization, and his lifestyle would have been seen as socially unacceptable (Bloomfield 296). Hindley’s addiction to alcohol would come from the Ego portion of his brain because it was used to suppress his grief. Unlike Hindley, the other characters illnesses seemed to be brought on by love.
Mental illness was viewed as worse than alcoholism in the Victorian Era, people believed it was a consequence of religious transgression (Bloomfield 296). Catherine’s mental state changes after she has a seizure during a high stress argument between her, Edgar, and Heathcliff. Catherine never returns to normal after the seizure. She denies food and suffers from rage, delirium and hallucinations. She would have been diagnosed with “Brain Fever” during this time period, which would have been worsened by her depression (Bloomfield 294). In today’s world Catherine could have been seen as Schizophrenic. Catherine dies two hours after prematurely delivering her daughter. This was caused by a highly emotional conversation with Heathcliff (Bloomfield 295). Catherine was set up for a mental illness based on how the upper class women were seen during the Victorian Era. Catherine’s death would have been seen as a mark from the devil because of her seizures and delirium were seen as punishment (Bloomfield 297). Catherine’s ID, Ego, and Super-Ego were constantly battling each other, eventually driving her to insanity. Catherine’s death changes the plot of the story and Heathcliff’s life (Bloomfield 291).
Heathcliff has an obsession with Catherine, and undergoes emotional stress after her death (Bloomfield 291). His unsympathetic personality is also a trait of his mental disorder (Bloomfield 297). Heathcliff’s obsession can be classified as Monomania, he is fixed on one idea to...

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