Pairs In Brontë’s Wuthering Heights Essay

2155 words - 9 pages

Throughout Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë presents and develops several pairs of characters, ideas, and locations that work both together and in contrast to each other, such as the temporal, and perhaps most obvious, juxtaposition of the two properties Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. Within these locations emerge three distinct character pairs, tied together by the similar type of relationship upon which each is based: a brother and sister connection, although not necessarily one defined by genetics. These three pairings include narrator Nelly Dean and Hindley Earnshaw, Cathy Earnshaw and Heathcliff, and Isabella and Edgar Linton. Each relationship is unique: Nelly and Hindley are both nursed by Nelly’s mother and are raised alongside one another, but Nelly is a servant to the Earnshaw family; Cathy and Heathcliff are raised together after Cathy’s father brings the supposed orphan Heathcliff home from Liverpool; and Isabella and Edgar are biologically brother and sister. Yet, aside from being based on a brother/sister relationship, all three of these pairs share another commonality, which is that each pairing experiences at least one separation and reunion of some sort. These separation periods and times in which the pairs are reunited greatly impact not only their own relationships, but also those of the other pairs and, ultimately, the course of the novel.
Nelly Dean, although a servant who grows up to be the housekeeper, is brought up amongst the Earnshaw children Hindley and Cathy as her mother works for the family, and as such, she feels a strong connection towards the two (Brontë 28). This is evident not only through Nelly’s incredible insight into the internal feelings Cathy experiences, but also in moments throughout the text when Nelly fondly thinks of memories of her time spent with Hindley, such as their “favourite spot” near the sand-pillar sign (85). When Mr. Earnshaw brings home another child, Heathcliff, after a trip to Liverpool, Cathy, Hindley, and Nelly seem to begrudge Heathcliff for the way Mr. Earnshaw insists upon raising him as another member of the family. Cathy’s opinion is quickly changed, however, and she and Heathcliff soon become nearly inseparable, leaving Hindley and Nelly to join forces against the child. As Nelly recounts in her narration of the story to Mr. Lockwood, “Miss Cathy and he [Heathcliff] were now very thick; but Hindley hated him, and to say the truth I did the same; and we plagued and went on with him shamefully” (30). The connection Hindley and Nelly have regarding their feelings towards Heathcliff serves to solidify their brother-sister sort of relationship, and continues for a few years time.
During this period, Mrs. Earnshaw, who is never particularly supportive of Heathcliff’s acceptance into the family, dies, and Mr. Earnshaw increasingly focuses more of his attention and favor towards Heathcliff rather than his biological son Hindley. Hindley continues to treat Heathcliff...

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