Wuthering Heights is one of the most influential novels of 19th century; even though a dark and powerful novel the deeper aspects of life and strong emotions form the pillar of the novel. The novel is intricately weaved with strong emotion, powerful imagery and the conflict of possession. It reveals the most complex love story interlaced with separation and union under most conflicting circumstances. Love has been portrayed as a very evasive powerful emotion where give and take is exercised in complete isolation, just with the individual soul, and in that manner every character is lonely and isolated.
It has been critically analyzed that the circumstance and the characters in the book reflects close similarity to the writer Emile Bronte’s personal life and surrounding. Wuthering Heights is the only novel which she wrote and since Emile Bronte’s life was dark and dreary, Wuthering Heights was influenced by her experience of isolation. Emily Bronte was an extraordinary writer of 19th century known for her imaginative and inspiring streak which reflects in her work as well as her life.
Emily never married, stood up for her inner convictions and lived all her life at her family’s home in Haworth Parsonage, near Yorkshire Moors in northern England. She loved her home and her surrounding, which was rugged, dreary and wild in landscape, full of storms and harsh and unpredictable weather. Her novel Wuthering Heights is very clear imagery of her home surrounding in manner of exposure to the moors, cliffs and the isolated and dark setting. (Jennings).
The early tragedies of loss of her mother and her two elder sisters as a result of terrible illnesses, affected her very deeply being very closely associated with pain and isolation. She lived with her other siblings two other sisters and a brother creating an imaginary world inspired by the toy soldiers which was a gift from her father. Emily seemed to be more overpowered by this imaginary world, even as an adult unlike her other siblings. Her fantasy world was called “Gondal”, and this private world provided her with immense strength and inspiration. In this world which was ruled by a woman she was in charge and control of her life.
The character of Catherine Earnshaw in Wuthering Heights reflects this aspect of her personality in imagination, holding on to her past and in her intensity of love, which gives her more pain than pleasure. The intensity and the passion is in proportion of the pain and anguish to save what she has in the depth of her heart fighting with the external environment tormented by harsh winds and storms. Wuthering Heights is in many ways a clear reflection of Emily’s life, and the society in which she lived where women were not treated as an equal with the men of the society.
The rules by which women had to live were very strict and allowed for little freedom or independence. Catherine, merges with Emily in her thinking, feeling and intensity. Even the steps she takes to make compromises in her life, is reflection of her courage and strength as it is taken to ensure security for Heathcliff or to ensure that her love thrives in more secure circumstances. Catherine is wild and intense and follows her heart, in sincerity, the main objective of her life is make things better for Heathcliff, who is her other image.
Heathcliff and Catherine are inseparable, they are like two bodies with one soul. They cannot live without each other, and all their life they are drawn in relationship, which changes with the change of identity for Catherine from Catherine Earnshaw as a girl and teenager who is madly and inseparably in love with Heathcliff, to Catherine Heathcliff as two inseparable identities merged into one and Catherine Linton who is the regeneration of the Catherine, to keep her alive through her spirit and beauty.
The story of Wuthering Heights begins with the introduction of the pages from Catherine’s diary, a love story which is ready to be brought before the world as one of the most intense stories of the time with timeless passion and intensity which begins with life and carries until the grave. There are intrusions but there is always the clarity of focus on who really belongs to whom, in the inner world of heart and soul.
This is so closely connected with the conditions of Emily’s life and her close bond with the novel Wuthering Heights, Catherine’s diary can be said as Emily’s diary where she is trying to reveal her inner world to the outside world, it is intimate, personal and deep. She expresses her free and independent attitude thorough Cathy, with similar rebellion and strength of character, to stand up against the injustice done towards Heathcliff. There is a very intimate relationship between the dream and the reality, which is guided through the pages of the diary.
The different inscriptions of Catherine’s name are reflective of the movement of the novel from one generation to another linking the key relationships which are covered under layers of hypocrisy. “When you have processed the information you have been waiting for, you see the point of the order of the scribbled names, as Lockwood gives them: Catherine Earnshaw, Catherine Heathcliff, Catherine Linton. Read from left to right they recapitulate Catherine Earnshaw’s story; read from roght to left, the story of her daughter, Catherine Linton.
The names Catherine and Earnshaw begin and end the narrative… this is an account of the movement of the book: away from Earnshaw and back, like movement of the house itself. (MW,419-20) (Jacobs 1979) The sequential order of the names as they first appear on the window ledge, then in the diary and elsewhere, connects the story with past and present, interweaving in it the aspect of darkness of the nightmares and the dreams and the powerful influence of nature with the supernatural element, overshadowing the moors and the Wuthering heights.
The sinister darkness of the towering Wuthering heights, can be compared to the dark impressions left on her tender mind of the loss of her mother and the sisters, the personal loss and pain have emerged as the source of darkness and the isolation, which the inhabitants of Wuthering Heights have to endure and live day after day without any clear sign of hope and light. The outside physical world is dark and gloomy; the only refuge is in the sanctuary of the heart and soul, which drives the novel from beginning to end in the service of love, regardless of social constraints.
The isolation which the characters of the Wuthering Heights experience is beyond imagination. It is sheer inner strength which allows for the characters to emerge from the dreary darkness, just like Emily, whose inner strength and courage made her survive the road of solitary path in the midst of social stigma and environmental control. This isolation can be seen almost all of her characters in Wuthering Heights.
This aspect can be seen as the homelessness and the anguish of isolation is experienced by Hindley when he is forced from home, after old Earnshaw’s death Heathcliff is driven away, returning some years later, on the death of Heathcliff finally Hareton has a chance to live who had live almost in destitude and isolation within the walls of Wuthering Heights. Isabella first leaves her home in The Grange for life with Heathcliff, and then is devastated by her marriage with Heathcliff escapes to anonymity with impossibility for return.
Her son Linton is first uprooted to his uncle’s home and then to his fathers home. The young Catherine, daughter of Catherins Earnshaw is first taken from Thrushcross Grange as Heathcliff’s temporary prisoner and then is forced to become his daughter-in-law and his permanent prisoner. The ultimate of isolation and exile is the conscious choice made by Cathy(Catherine Earnshaw ) who creates her exile as a conscious act of imagination, just like Emily in her Gonad world: “If I were in heaven, Nelly, I would be extremely miserable.
I dreamt one that I was there. Heaven did not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out, into the middle of the heath on the top of Withering Heights; where I woke up sobbing for joy” (Jacobs 1979) The marriage to Edgar fulfils this prophecy of homelessness from which only death promises respite. Yet, Cathy’s death is again another self-imposed exile, as she refuses to get better and wants to die, this scene has amazing similarity with the manner in which Emily died.
The manner, in which Emily dies in isolation, is an example which captures the synthesis of the conviction and the courage with which she lived her life. Emily was the strongest and the most sincere of the Bronte family, who had the inner strength to stand for her inner faith and conviction, unruffled by the outside world and its changing influences. “She was a strong willed person who remained true to herself and her vision, even until her very last breath. ” (Jennings).
She was very ill, just like the protagonist of the novel Wuthering Heights, Cathy, “she was suffering from severe lung infection, but she refused to give in to her illness and continued to live as she always had: believing her own strength would help her endure and survive and ultimately overcome the physical limitations of her life. Emily Bronte’s life and death of courage and independence is a lasting example to us all”(Jennings) Emily Bronte valued life greatly and her novel reflects her close vision about the preciousness of life and the power of the inner self (soul).
She had strong conviction that no matter how violent the turmoil outside, as is reflected in many aspects of Wuthering Heights in relationships, weather and social conflict, the human soul had the power to endure and go beyond the barriers and the hardships which inflict pain and suffering as part of our experience in life. Her greatest accomplishment was writing her novel Wuthering Heights, which is the only novel she ever wrote and through which “she was able to speak her mind able to speak her own mind, make clear the power of her voice, and reveal her entire vision of humankind to the world.
It has been 150 years since Wuthering Heights was first published, yet it is still a widely-read book and is studied in many schools. Emily Bronte’s story of two childhood companions who are unable to remain together once they are adults is powerful and moving. It reminds each of us, no matter who we are, that we are often left alone in the world, and that we all long to be a part of something more than ourselves, but that it is only through love of ourselves that we can truly find love with others.
The story is written in one of the most unforgettable, original voices ever heard, and almost everyone who has read this novel has been deeply affected by it. Emily died at the age of thirty, only a year after Wuthering Heights was published, but she still speaks to us through her writing. ” ”(Jennings) “No Coward soul is mine… No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere… I see Heaven’s glories shine… And Faith shines equal arming me from Fear… There is not room for Death… Nor atom that his might could render void… Since thou art Being and Breath… and what thou art may never be destroyed… “