Complex Relationships in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights Essay Rewrite: Within the novel Wuthering Heights, written by Emily Bronte, readers are confronted with many complex relationships. At times it is hard to understand these due to the range of relationships that occur, from interactions of hatred to relationships that show true passion. One such complex relationship is between Hareton Earnshaw and Catherine.

As the novel progresses, we see love develop between these two characters that is best explained by how they are brought together, the problems that their relationship poses and how this relationship affects the other characters in the novel and the plot of the novel itself. The first way to understand this relationship is to examine how these two characters are brought together. In the novel, there is a real sense that fate has a lot to do with the union between the lovers, as Catherine and Hareton are reunited at the symbolic Penistone Crags.

Catherine has a burning desire to go to the crags, the symbol of maturity, natural erotic desire and wild temptation. She asks Nelly and her father “Now, am I old enough to go to Penistone Crags? ”(Bronte 147) As Catherine reaches teenage years, she desires to travel outside of Thrushcross Grange and ascend the large Penistone Crags, which are close to Wuthering Heights and Hareton. Catherine and Hareton spend the whole day near the Crags until Nelly fetches them.

Bronte then describes the interaction between Hareton and Catherine as joyful, describing that “Her hat was hung against the wall, and she seemed perfectly at home laughing and chattering, in best spirits imaginable, to Hareton, now a great, strong lad of eighteen, who stared at her with considerable curiosity and astonishment” ( Bronte 149). This quote shows how there is an underlying connection between them; Hareton and Catherine begin to show similar characteristics in their relationship that Heathcliff and Cathy had in theirs, and this foreshadows how the relationship will end up.

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The next interaction between the two is one day when Catherine meets Hareton and Heathcliff while on a stroll; Heathcliff makes it clear that Hareton is not his son. It is then insisted that she must come to Wuthering Heights to meet his son who she has met before, Linton. As Hareton and Catherine run off to play, Linton stays in seclusion as he is feeble and weak. The notion of Catherine running away with Hareton shows her natural tendencies and attraction for Hareton, because he allows her to be free and expressive. Ultimately, the two characters seem to be brought together by fate.

In order for Hareton and Catherine to come together, they have to overcome many obstacles. The first problem that they run into is after Catherine is enlightened to the fact that Hareton is her cousin, she is disgusted by him. “… she stopped and wept outright; upset at the bare notion of relationship with such a clown” (Bronte 152). This quote describes how Catherine thinks of Hareton as a peasant or a servant and this devastates Hareton. The next problem that their relationship has is that Catherine is being forcibly courted by Linton, at the hand of his father.

Heathcliff will do anything in order to fulfill his revenge, and thus will do anything to push the marriage between Catherine and Linton. An example of this is when Heathcliff literally kidnaps Catherine and refuses to let her leave Wuthering Heights until she agrees to marry Linton. It is obvious that Heathcliff is a major problem, preventing the love between Catherine and Hareton from materializing. Catherine realizes that Linton is vastly more educated than Hareton and that she can live a more refined lifestyle with Linton.

Linton causes Hareton to feel great shame about his social and educational standing. A prime example of this is when Hareton and Catherine have run off, and Linton finds them standing below the inscription carved above the door. As “Hareton scared up, and scratched his head like a true clown. ‘It’s some damnable writing,’ he answered. ‘I cannot read it’” (Bronte 169). And almost immediately Linton takes the opportunity to degrade him in front of Catherine, laughing at him and calling him a “colossal dunce” (Bronte 170).

This is the moment where Catherine seems to push away from Hareton, and lean towards Linton. Also not helping the situation is the declining health of Linton, as this draws Catherine more emotionally towards Linton and it completely devastates her. Bronte expresses through Nelly that “I couldn’t bear to witness her sorrow, to see her pale, dejected countenance, and heavy eyes” (Bronte 181). All the while, Hareton is barely mentioned, and later revealed that he has been teaching himself to read and write his own name, in an attempt to impress Catherine.

As Hareton correctly identifies his name, he still cannot read the numbers, which causes Catherine to “laugh heartily at his failure” and triggers the hot headed Hareton to “skull off” (Bronte 191). They are falling for each other, but there is a constant bickering between them due to Hareton’s lack of education—as he is not as accomplished as Linton. The deep burning desire to be together seems to be blocked by any and every character and event in the novel, yet the connection between Hareton and Catherine is easy to see.

The final way to understand this relationship is to understand how it affects the characters in the play and how it drives the plot forward. Throughout the novel there had always been a sense that the relationship between Cathy and Heathcliff never died. And this relationship is kept alive by Hareton and Catherine. Whenever Heathcliff looks are Hareton, he sees Cathy, and it drives him insane, and this is a problem because Heathcliff’s motivation in life was to get revenge on the Linton family.

This revenge is what propelled the novel forward, and when Heathcliff sees that Hareton and Catherine are happy, things within him click and he no longer desires to fulfill his plans. “…his society is no benefit, rather an aggravation of the constant torment that I suffer and it partly contributes to render me regardless how he and his cousin go together. I can give them no attention, anymore” (Bronte 248). This quote shows how Heathcliff no longer wants to give attention to his plans of revenge, because Hareton and Catherine are happy.

This helps understand their relationship because even though Heathcliff was the mastermind behind everything, they were still able to find love and be happy, something that Heathcliff was never able to do with Cathy. It is as though the relationship was destined to happen, to fulfill not only the lives of Hareton and Catherine, but the souls of Heathcliff and Cathy. Even though the relationship between Hareton and Cathy was hard to understand, an explanation for their love can be made by examining the interactions them and characters in the novel and the overall plot of the story.

This relationship served as an the final chapter to a cycle of revenge that Heathcliff started by showing him that even under pressure love can prevail. The complex relationship between Hareton and Catherine ultimately expelled the tension between the two estates and rid Heathcliff of his vengeful plots. Overall, this relationship was exemplified by how fate dictated their love, their interactions and their representation for a love of a previous generation.

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