Wuthering Heights Essay, Research Paper
Like the world of Transylvania, the Gothic setting in Wuthering Heights suggests a wild and primitive landscape unconstrained by Orthodox norms. The reader is first introduced to Wuthering Heights, the house and its surroundings, as it appears to the middle class, Mr. Lockwood, on a stormy night. Thus, Lockwood serves the same role and Jonathan Harker as he is the bridge between the world of 19th century normal realities and the primeval world of Wuthering Heights. Just as Mr. Harker characterizes his trip to Transylvania as a journey between two atmospheres, entering the “thunderous one”, Mr. Lockwood too is introduced to Wuthering Heights on a stormy night, a foreshadowing of the darkness to come. Mr. Lockwood has an arrangement to meet with his neighboring tenant, Mr. Heathcliff and after walking four miles in the snow, he reaches the Heights to find the gate closed. He stands “on that bleak hilltop [where] the earth was hard with a black frost, and the air made [him] shiver through every limb.” (WH-p.29) In fact, the word “Wuthering, being a significant provincial adjective, [is] descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed to stormy weather,” (WH-p.25) thus emphasizing the darkness and cruelty in nature. As in Dracula, the storm is a presence of sin and unnatural desires. After ejaculating that his “wretched inmates deserv[ed] perpetual isolation from [their] species of churlish inhospitality,” (WH-p.29) for leaving the gate locked during a storm, Mr. Lockwood is let inside, by a woman whom he thinks is Mrs. Heathcliff. His experience here within this Gothic house in quite unpleasant, paralleling Harker’s in the Count’s dark castle. While waiting for Heathcliff in silence he notices how the women “kept her eyes on [him], in a cool regardless manner, exceedingly embarrassing and disagreeable.” (WH-p.30) The arrival of Heathcliff “relieved” (WH-p.32) Mr. Lockwood momentarily, yet soon he became uneased by Heathcliff’s “tone in which the words said revealed a genuine bad nature.” (WH-p.32) Neither of the hostesses demonstrated much acknowledgment of their guests’ presence, so Mr. Lockwood “began to feel unmistakably out of place in that pleasant family circle [and] the dismal spiritual atmosphere overcame [him].” (WH-p.34) He becomes slowly submerged in a dark setting, in which he feels uncomfortable and even frightened, as Harker’s fears first “seem to have [been] dissipated” (D-p.19) by the Count’s hospitality, but then he finds himself “all in a sea of wonder” (D-p.19) and a “veritable prisoner”. (D-p.13) Like Jonathan, Lockwood seems to be a “prisoner” since he becomes stranded at Wuthering Heights by the snow storm. However, when Heathcliff refuses to allow Lockwood to stay the night, he runs outside into the snow storm attempting to go home. “It was so dark that [he] could not see the means of exit.” (WH-p.36) Attempting to stop Lockwood, Heathcliff set two dogs on him, and he us thrown to the ground. The means with which Heathcliff attempts to stop Lockwood is barbaric, suggesting that Mr. Lockwood is a prisoner in a jail attempting to escape. The presence of an animal in the Gothic setting parallels the experience of Mr. Harker during his time at the castle. The ferocious dogs attacking Mr. Lockwood invoke fear and thwarted Lockwood from leaving, just as the howling wolves threatened to destroy Jonathan’s life should he try to exit Castle Dracula. In a dizzy and faint state, Lockwood is taken to a room in which the master “never lets anybody lodge,” (WH-p.37) a fact which increases the Gothic suspense of the setting. Like Harker, Lockwood experiences a dream emerging and reflecting the dark setting. Harker’s dream manifests his Victorian repressions by “revealing the intensity of the emotion he generally denies or represses but the specific nature of those emotions is also important.”28 In this first dream, Lockwood is trying to get home but Joseph, a servant of Wuthering Heights warns him he will not be able to get home without a pilgrim’s staff. He realizes that, instead, he and Joseph are going to a chapel to see Reverend Jabes Branderham’s sermon, because “either Joseph, the preacher, or I had committed the ‘First [sin] of the Seventy-First, and were to be publicly exposed and excommunicated.” (WH-p.40) This dream reveals that Lockwood is terrified by the outlaw environment of Wuthering Heights. He has a deep fear of being excommunicated from society as revealed in his dream, a notion that contradicts the need for Victorian man to prosper within society. The dream can also be seen in “oedipal terms,”29 suggesting Victorian repression: “If home represent the mother (ultimately the womb), using a phallic ’staff’ to enter it would be indeed ‘absurd’ because forbidden by the incest taboo, and therefore a source of intense anxiety.”30 Thus, Lockwood experiences unconscious and unorthodox beliefs, provoked by the primitive landscape. Harker experiences the same fears of sexuality through a dream provoked by the dark and erotic Gothic landscape of the vampire whores. Through the unconscious mind, the id of the Victorian man is revealed, expressing the sexual desires usually repressed by the Victorian mind. Mr. Lockwood if further submerged into the primitive landscape by experiencing another dream in which he is awakened by the by the “fir-bough repeat[ing] its teasing sound” (WH-p.42) against the window; he attempts to stop it by opening the window. As he reaches out to seize the branch, his “finger closed on the fingers of a little, ice cold hand!” (WH-p.42) The gothic imagery terrifies Lockwood, just as Harker was terrified by the nightmarish qualities of the castle: Indeed Lockwood confesses, “The intense horror of nightmare came over me and a most melancholy voice sobbed ‘Let me in- let me in!” (Wh-p.42) The voice revealed her name as Catherine Earnshaw, a name inscribed in one of the old books Lockwood had been reading. The “terror made [him] cruel” (WH-p.42) for Lockwood awakens and uncontrollably screams for help. After only hours of staying at Wuthering Heights, Lockwood is becoming an extension of the gothic imagery. He is becoming barbaric like Heathcliff, by acting out his inner emotions even though he is being rude by screaming in the middle of the night. The dream suggest that Wuthering Heights is haunted by the girl’s spirit and Heathcliff’s reaction would suggest an unexplained horror since he opened the window “bursting as her pulled at it, into an uncontrollable passion of tears. Come in! Cathy, do come, Oh do-once more! My hearts darling! hear me this time- Catherine, at last!” (WH-p.45) Clearly within the Gothic landscape, the boundary between nightmare and reality is diminished, as Heathcliff seems to believe that Lockwood’s dream is not an illusion. The author creates an opposing landscape to emphasize the primitivism of Wuthering Heights. Thrushcross Grange symbolizes the refined aristocrat Victorian household, while those who inhabit Wuthering Heights are much less refined, thus more stormy. “Thrushcross Grange is no simply the values of any tyranny but specifically those of Victorian society, and the rebellion of Heathcliff is a particular rebellion, that of the worker physically and spiritually degraded by the condition and relationships of this same society.”31 The author incorporates the degradation of the Victorian aristocrat in Thrushcross Grange, emphasizing its reflection of the classical Victorian society. She creates Heathcliff to represent those who oppose Victorian society, and the Romantics who rebelled against the conformity of Victorian values, and act their inner emotions. Thus, the two houses represent opposite morals and values; one presenting calm, the other representing the storm, the typical gothic anarchical symbol. The wild and primitive landscape of Wuthering Heights represents the storminess of the house, and inflicts unorthodox norm on those who inhabit it.
Like Dracula who seems an extension of his dark world, Bronte’s hero/villain Heathcliff, is clearly as much as a creature of storm, as the house he occupies. Heathcliff’s childhood experiences have turned Heathcliff into the monster seen in his adult life. Like Dracula, Heathcliff’s origins are unknown, One day Mr. Earnshaw went to Liverpool to conduct some business, found a parentless gypsy boy wandering the streets, brought him home and “christened hum Heathcliff.” (WH-p.52) However, Heathcliff’s happiness at Wuthering Heights was short lived and “died in childhood” (WH-p.52) as a result of the abuse he had received form his step sibling. As children, Catherine and Heathcliff were passionately close: “It was the greatest punishment ever invent[ed] for her to be keep separate from him,” (WH-p.55) yet Heathcliff “would stand Hindley’s blows without winking or shredding tear” (WH-p.52) as a result of jealously. “So, from the very beginning, Heathcliff bread bad feelings in the house,” (WH-p53) which worsened with the death of Mr. Earnshaw. Hindley stopped the “naughty, swearing boy” (WH-p.65) from his studies and forced him to live a life similar to that of a servant. As the abuse of Heathcliff’s grows, he finds Catherine is his only means of please in his hostile environment. The two play endlessly on the moors by Wuthering Heights and in essence are children of the heaths and the cliff; bot are wild aspects of nature and find comfort here: “It was on of their chief amusements to run away to the moors in the morning and remain there all day, and the after punishment grew a mere thing to laugh at.” (WH-p.59) However, after spending five weeks at Thrushcross Grange recovering from a dog bite, Catherine returns blinded by the Victorian ideals of ignorance to those not prosperous. Upon her arrival home to Wuthering Heights, she dismisses her soul mate Heathcliff and his gypsy manners. Even the maid Nelly notices the “unfeeling child [and] how slightly she dismisses her old playmate’s troubles. I could not have imagined her to be so selfish.” (WH-p.69) Like Dracula, Heathcliff rejects the Victorian ideals Cathy has embraced. Catherine’s rejection of her friend further pushes Heathcliff into idle. Heathcliff is genetically wild, and is not cruel or unkind as long as he has someone to share his life with. Once Catherine has distanced herself from Heathcliff, his “predominately passional, irrational, unknown, and unconscious part of the psyche the id or ‘it’”32 take over Heathcliff thus “the primary traits ascribed to the id apply perfectly to Heathcliff: the source of psychic energy; the sear of the instincts (particularly sex and death); the essence of dream; the archaic foundation of personality- selfish, asocial, impulse”33 are released. It is the loss of Catherine that turn Heathcliff into a monstrous villain, seemingly devoid of the superego. Heathcliff loses the “aspect of the psyche, which [Freud} called the superego [which] seems to be outside the self, making moral judgements, telling us to make sacrifices for the good causes even though self-sacrifice may not be quite logical or rational.”34 Just as Dracula becomes a monstrous villain through becoming immortal thus removed from the rest of society, Heathcliff becomes monstrous through losing his only tie to society, his friend Cathy. Heathcliff gradually loses Catherine’s love to Linton, son of the aristocratic family. As Linton tries to win Catherine’s heart over, she removes herself from the stormy and wild ways she much enjoyed as a child with Heathcliff: “Doubtless Catherine marked the difference between her friends as on came in, and the other went out. The contrast resembled what you see in exchanging a bleak, coal country for a beautiful fertile valley.” (WH-p.77) One evening, while informing Nelly of her love affairs, Heathcliff stood in the next room listening to their conversation. She tells Nelly how she loves Linton and has accepted her proposal in marriage. However the wise Nelly whose “main function in the novel is essentially those attributed to the ego,”35 makes Catherine admit that her love for Linton “is like the foliage in the woods. Time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes trees- my lover for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rock beneath-a source of visible delight, but necessary.” (WH-p.87) She believes that her heart truly belongs to Heathcliff: “If all else perished and he remained, I should still continue o be, if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the Universe wold turn to a might stranger.” (WH-p.87) Heathcliff, however failed to hear Catherine’s confession of everlasting love to him, he ran away. Heathcliff leaves the novel during a thunderstorm, symbolizing the anarchy and cruelty to come, just as Dracula makes his transition to Western Europe arriving during a thunderstorm. “The ‘inner’ emotional turmoil into which she is thrown by Heathcliff’s disappearance coincides with the ‘outer’ natural turmoil of a thunderstorm.”36 When Heathcliff returns, he is driven by the spirit of vengeance. Ms. Dean could hardly recognize the “altered” man, questioning “have you been for a soldier?” (WH-p.96) Although his appearance may be gentleman like, he is in fact an infernal best filled with rage. Nelly states how “his visits were a continual nightmare to me His abode at the Heights was an oppression past explaining.” (WH-p.107) He torments the lives of Catherine, her new husband Linton, Hindley, and the generations to follow. He wants them to suffer for the pain and suffering he has experienced by losing the only companion in his life. He informs Catherine upon his return, “I want you to be aware that I know you have treated me infernally!” (WH-p.111) and he eventually drives Catherine to a slow suicide from making her suffer. Heathcliff marries the sister of Linton, Isabella to further destroy Catherine and her love for him through jealously. Upon Dracula’s arrival in England, he plagues the lives of the innocent Lucy and Mina, which is apart of his master plan. Isabella describes Heathcliff’s infernal treatment parallel to that of a beast: “I assure you, a tiger or a venomous serpent could not rouse terror in me equal to that which he awakens.” (WH-p.137) Both Dracula and Heathcliff abuse innocent victims to carryon their plan of destruction, vengeance suffering. On Catherine’s death bed, she tells Heathcliff how she has killed her. This leads to more rage in Heathcliff ordering her dead soul to “Be with me always- take any form- drive me mad! only do no leave me in the abyss, where I cannot find you!” (WH-p.154) Catherine dies in the arms of Heathcliff, the two are reunited after years, only to be torn away from each other. This enrages Heathcliff and implores a mission to hurt all those tied to Catherine for making him so unhappy. Heathcliff’s love for Catherine has turned into hatred, thus the desire to harm all those linked to Catherine’s existence. He has become ruthless, selfish, the ultimate Gothic villain; acting through his id.
As only complete destruction will release Dracula from the world he haunts, it is in death that Heathcliff’s tormented and tormenting spirit finds release. At the end of Dracula, the five good men and Mina have cornered the Count outside of his castle in Dracula, attempting to kill him and keep him there until sunset. At this moment, Mina is tainted from a red mark of a wafer placed on her forehead and is also encircled by a ring of wafers, symbolizing how the perversity and Lucifer elements of Dracula have taken over her. As the sun sets, Dracula is killed, and according to Mina, “it was like a miracle; but before our very eyes, and almost in the drawing of a breath, the whole body crumbled into dust and passed from our sight.” (D-p.399) Mr. Morris sacrifices his life for the killing of Dracula, a valiant effort dying for the destruction of a beast, but also the saving of an entire civilization through this killing. Mr. Morris states how he “It was worth for this to die!” (D-p.399) Perversity has defeated evil, the unclean has been cleaned, and the perversity of the Count has been restored to the purity of Christianity. “Even in that moment of final dissolution, there was in the face [of the Count] a look of peace, such as I never could of have imagined might have rested there.” (D-p.398) The look of peace of the Count’s face symbolizes Dracula’s inner desire for savior, meaning that Christianity is the ultimate desire for all men. Even though Dracula is dying, he feels a release from the devil, and ultimately returned to Christianity. As the gothic hero/villain in Dracula, good defeats evil in Wuthering Heights as Christianity defeats perversity. Heathcliff’s evil has led to his isolation in life as young Cathy sates, “Mr. Heathcliff, you have nobody to love you; and, however miserable you make us, we shall still have the revenge of thinking that your cruelty arises from your greater misery! You are miserable, are you not! Lonely, like the devil, and envious like him?” (WH-p.246) His id had overwhelmed his life to the extent that he is completely lonely, separated from normal society. He has been evil to those to the point where “Nobody loves [him]- nobody will cry for [him], when [he] dies!” (WH-p.246) As the gothic villain Heathcliff has embraced the landscape and become ruthless as the moors, he dies becoming one with that which has shaped his life. Not only is “Heathcliff’s death presented as the ultimate fulfillment of his wish for total union with Catherine,”37 but it is also a return to innocence of nature which had marked the joys of his childhood. After observing “the master’s window swinging open” (WH-p.283) after a rainstorm, the next day Nelly entered Heathcliff’s room and found him laying on his back. “His eyes met mine so keen and fierce, I started; and then, he seemed to smile.” (WH-p.283) This happiness parallels the Count’s at the time of his death. Heathcliff’s soul had departed during a rainstorm, a quintessential gothic image symbolizing a renewal of like through cleansing. The opening of Heathcliff’s window further emphasizes his unification with the fierce nature he embraced. He is happy now because he is united with Catherine, the soul mate who too embraced the calamity of nature as a child of the storm. The two still haunt the moors which they once played endlessly. A little sheep boy claims to have seen “Heathcliff, and a woman, yonder, under t’Nab.” (WH-p.284) “Heathcliff and Cathy may be dead, but in dying they become transformed into a symbolic symbol meaning that, projected onto nature, renders nature itself ghostly.”38 Although Heathcliff is a human being and Dracula is a super a natural being (vampyr) imposing insidious effects on civilization, Heathcliff is no less a monster. The gothic hero/villain of the Romantic Movement, has such a great effect on the reader as a result of the duality and mysterious characteristics presented. The attraction of these novels can be expressed through what “H.P. Lovecraft, said, was ‘the scratching of unknown claws at the rind of the known world.’ This is certainly what one hears in the passages of the great writers who have forced their way into this essay, the sound, however intermittent, is unmistakable and unforgettable.”