Romanticism in Wuthering Heights

Writers of literary works use romanticism to imply the psychological desire to escape the hostile realities of the world. Moreover, individual characters are placed at the center of all life setting in the literature thereby making it easier to express unique feelings and specific attitudes to give value to fidelity in depicting experiences. Romanticism is sometimes used to show in nature a revelation of truth by finding the absolute as opposed to realism which finds value in the actual. In “Wuthering Heights”, the author focuses on relationships, socio-economic factors, such as love, courtship, security, social status, conflicts, and money (Bronte, 2009).

Romanticism is portrayed by drawing the line between the social class of the haves and have-nots who include the Lintons and Earnshaws. Further, regional descriptive detail shows the reality of the time, culture and place depicted by the setting of the Wuthering Heights house in a landscape of moors. There is a logical sequence of cause-effect events advanced by the conflicts and the plot of the story despite the irrational excesses in some characters as well as alleged super-natural elements shown by the nature, interactions, choice and the consequences that come around.

The writer creates passionate intensities through the events the characters go through by joking with death, as well as staging and courting death, for instance when Catherine is haunted by the face in the black press as she is dying. There is a fascination at what lies at human limits that shows that nature is a vitalizing living force offering refuge from the civilization’s constraints. In the novel great emphasis is put on the individual in a way that pushes the society from the action as well as readers’ consciousness. Moreover, reality is shown through the development of childhood experiences into adulthood (Stoneman, 2011).

Romanticism emphasizes that man is superior as an individual and is shown in Heathcliff through his jealousy and rage while in Catherine is shown by her quest to conform to the social standards of the day as well as her stubbornness. In the story, the writer seems to play up emotion before logic, especially when in her deathbed, Catherine shouts at Heathcliff (Bronte, 2009). Moreover, the explicable nature of Heathcliff character, which plays between romanticism and reality. There are cases of suspicion of earlier forms of organized religion, depicted by the learning of Bible lessons by Earnshaw’s children without interest at all.

Gothic romance is used in the narrative through inclusion of words, such as decay, terror, ruin, death, and chaos. There are instances of passion and privileged irrationality over reason and rationality in addition to mysticism, supernatural elements and nightmare. The ghost of Catherine which greets Lockwood is used to depict the supernatural element. Wuthering heights is a dreary and dark place with Heath being desolate. This is affirmed by abundant occurrence of death, which leaves only three characters to survive until the end of the narrative (Stoneman, 2011). Characters in the narrative act and react irrationally, for instance the relationship between Catherine and Heathcliff seems to be irrational.

Heathcliff is portrayed as the Byronic hero and together with Catherine, they are depicted as passionate, isolated, and wilful as well as rebellious. Heathcliff on his part has mysterious origins, does not conform to external control and restrictions, lacks family ties and seeks to resolve his isolation by falling in love with Catherine. However, the leading male and female characters fall in love, which is central to the narrative used to defy the romantic heroism (Bronte, 2009). Love acts to link the two main characters through the different levels of narration that are present in the novel that show the characters’ relationship and feelings. The difficulties that appear in their characterization make the story defy the romantic heroism evidenced in other parts of the narrative.

Heathcliff cannot be understood with readers being unable to resist what they expect to see from him. His cruelty is made to make the reader gather that it hides romantic character in Heathcliff and is just an expression of frustrated love for the lead female character. The acts of frustration are used to defy and hide the heart of a romantic hero. In traditional romantic narratives, the heroes are brooding and dangerous and appear to reform at last to become loving and caring. However, Heathcliff is an exception as he does not reform and instead seeks revenge against Catherine, Edgar and Hindley as well as anyone had contributed to his misery. 

Heathcliff’s heroism is played down by his abusive behavior thereby hiding it. He sadistically abuses Isabella and it becomes his amusement to see how much abuse she can stomach and still come back. The same abuse is used on the reader who is teased by the writer to keep on interested in Heathcliff despite his violence nature. Heathcliff portrays the anxiety upper and middle class in the society had for the working class, who people sympathize with in the same way the reader would with a powerless child adopted by Earnshaw and tyrannized by Hindley.

Catherine on the other hand appears motivated by impulses that make her fall in love with Heathcliff, get angry easily and run around on the moor thereby defying the social conventions. Her coffin’s location signifies the conflict that reaps her short life. When she dies, her coffin is placed between those of Edgar and Heathcliff showing her conflicted royalties (Bronte, 2009). Her social ambitions drive parts of her life, which were sprout during her stay with the Lintons with a culmination of marriage to Edgar. Moreover, Catherine is representative of the wild nature as shown by her lively spirits and the occasional cruelty.

The novel’s ending becomes sentimental with a happy ending where the characters are assimilated into the society thereby diverging from an individual’s center. Catherine, for instance becomes solicitous and sweet to a point where she creates kinship friendship and later gets romantic with her former antagonist, Hareton. Conversely, Heathcliff becomes beatific, visionary and serene and is seen to think about the future. He gets buried next to Catherine to prove his vision of opening Catherine’s coffin so that their bodies could entwine in death.

Moreover, the ending of the novel distances itself from the earlier expressed romanticism as the characters change their behavior in a strange manner. The end is fixated with death, corpse’s decay and loneliness as the last character Lockwood, who narrates the story and acts a window which allows the reader understand the story, is left sorrowful at the end. There seems to be a limitation to the number of people Catherine could fall in love with as one potential lover treks to Wuthering Heights to try his luck but is late and could have acted earlier when he had the chance (Bronte, 2009). 

In the end, Grange wins while Heathcliff achieves his heavenly version in a way that detracts the romance and power of the earlier part of the narrative to include scenes of society which would appeal to the reader. The writer kills romanticism by letting civilization win as Hareton and Catherine’s wedding becomes the last and necessary conclusion to both generations of unrest as Heathcliff’s traces disappear. Catherine and Hareton appear to have been purified from their earlier antisocial and wilder characteristics.

Catherine and Heathcliff resembled the immaterial and natural group in the society, while the Lintons belonged to the affluent society. When the two reunite in death an achievement of complete freedom is realized as it dawns on Heathcliff that he would never get revenge from Edgar and Hindley as they have all died (Bronte, 2009). The extreme personalities of Heathcliff and Catherine were a great threat to the peace on earth and thus are eliminated to kill the romanticism and thus give emphasis to the society, which could not be sacrificed at the expense of two people.

The reader would gain reflections of a wild, disjoined, confused and improbable piece of work. The characters are depicted as savages who are rude. The story revolves around the lives of the Earnshaws and the Lintons who kind of intermarry as an old-fashioned house is used as the setting for the actions and exploits. The reader is meant to detest the effeminate frippery and affectation of the novel and thus trust the writer to take the reader to desolate places.

The opening takes the form of a flashback structure that keeps on recurring back to the readers while the novel’s prose stands out well to a modern reader. It is also seen that the younger Catherine was more exuberant than the older one. The reader is compelled to accept the propensity of death in Yorkshire which may make the story sound like a melodrama, while it is the reality in the area. The story also provides a clear picture for subsequent tragic romance.

A realistic ending is more apt for a novel, because it gives accounts of events that the reader can relate with. This is shown in Wuthering Heights when passion engulfs Catherine and Heathcliff and later everything around them is dissolved. That sounds like a true story about what happens in the society, where a person gives divided attention to all the potential suitors. The cross racial relationships as shown in the novel would not stood a chance in the Victorian era and they play out as the only exception in the narration and the paradoxes that were present at the time (Stoneman, 2011).

The interracial relationships were uncommon and in most cases banned up until after the Victorian era. This is different in the modern society as more interracial relationships are being witnessed although the white male still values his own (Watson & Shafquat, 2012). The interracial relationships lacked networks and support groups where they would feel at home and normal as they dated. Moreover, love was expressed to close relatives, such as cousins and even half-brothers since suitors were limited and women were confined to the house chores and not allowed to socialize as much as men therefore falling for the first man who came with intimate reasons (Watson & Shafquat, 2012).


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