The Pivotal Effects of Duality in Wuthering Heights

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In some novels and plays certain parallel or recurring events prove to be significant. In an essay, describe the major similar- ities and differences in a sequence of parallel or recurring events in a novel or play and discuss the significance of such events. Do not merely summarize the plot. In Emily Bronte’s enthralling love story, Wuthering Heights, she emphasizes love’s often disparaging influences set against the devastating power of nature. Emily Bronte expresses this multifaceted narrative by utilizing one of literature’s most prevalent literary devices, repetition. Bronte uses repetition in order to give the reader full understanding as to how the characters repeat the past unintentionally, to provide insight as to how each individual character develops. As readers, it is acceptable to assume that comparisons and parallels such as these suggest that “their import for the reader derives not so much from what they tell us about the people compared as from what they disclose about those making the comparisons” (Tytler 109).

In her engrossing tale of heartbreak and romance, it seems apparent that some aspects of life are eternal, and that the past is brought into the present as if through a cycle. Two fundamental exploitations of repetition throughout the novel include the reuse of character names, Catherine Earnshaw for example, and the reoccurrence of an abusive nature. From generation to generation, the reiteration of the characters’ names gives meaning to the novel as a whole through the overall interactions of the characters. Catherine Linton, originally Catherine Earnshaw, names her daughter after herself, this being the first instance where repetition is shown in the tale. Although Heathcliff is her true love, Catherine Earnshaw marries Edgar Linton, due to his social status and great wealth. Heathcliff, lacking these superficial qualities, was off the board for Catherine to marry because through her eyes, she says, “it would degrade me to marry Heathcliff”(Bronte 92).

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Young Catherine, in contrast to her mother, marries a man for his abundant compassion, this man being Hareton Earnshaw. Hence, the novel starts and ends with a woman of the name Catherine Earnshaw due to the recycling of the name within the story. In addition, the name Linton is repeated due to Isabella Heathcliff naming her son with this title, and Linton was also the name of Isabella’s brother. What is the reasoning as to why Emily Bronte intentionally repeats names such as these throughout her narrative? It can be assumed that the repetition of names incidentally illustrates the repetition of characters. This meaning that it is almost as if they have not truly passed away with their deaths, they recur through their children. Reappearing through their children is not only shown with the recycling of their names but through their personalities as well. Moreover, repetition is shown within the first and second generation of characters due to their similar characteristics that they share. For example, one character that bears resemblance to the negative features of both of his parents is Linton Heathcliff. Like his father, he is very demanding; like his mother, he is weak and sniveling. Evidence of this includes the way that he treats young Catherine when she visits him. Linton tells her “‘I’m ill to-night, Catherine, love,’…‘and you must have all the talk, and let me listen. Come and sit by me. I was sure you wouldn’t break your word, and I’ll make you promise again, before you go” (Bronte 226). In this quote of his, stating that he is ill is an example of his weakness coming through, yet he also remains persistent in having Catherine make a promise to him.

Although Catherine passes away prior to being able to form a relationship with her daughter, get to know her, or even communicate with her, young Catherine takes after her mother in several ways. One example of young Catherine acting similarly to her mother is when she is mocking Joseph of his zealous ways. The parallels between Catherine and young Catherine prove to be significant because it illustrates the connection between the characters, and how Heathcliff seems to be haunted by the same situations throughout the course of the novel. At the time of Catherine’s death, Heathcliff says “Be with me always—take any form—drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!” (Bronte 163). Therefore, for the remainder of his life, while she is dead, he feels haunted by her presence. Catherine’s reentering into Wuthering Heights is significant in terms of renewal and revival because “it gives attention to a close encounter between the world of human matter and the world of natural matter; her desire heads towards a form of materiality of existence that, since it is embedded in nature, surpasses death as the end of life” (Defant 41). One difference between the two Catherine’s is that their love stories end differently. Catherine does not get married to Heathcliff although he was the man that she had truly been in love with, she marries the man who granted her with power, wealth, and status. Young Catherine does just the opposite. Although she is forced by Heathcliff to marry Linton beforehand, the man she fells in love with is whom she ends up marrying.

Aside from their different love stories, both Catherine’s are headstrong, egotistical, and manipulative. Catherine does so by controlling the will of others, and young Catherine by trying to increase sympathy. Regardless of how they are able to do so, they have hurt individuals who are close to them. Likewise, repetition is also shown through abuse done by Heathcliff. Found on the streets of Liverpool by Mr. Earnshaw, Heathcliff was brought into Wuthering Heights as Mr. Earnshaw’s adopted son. Hindley, Mr. Earnshaw’s biological son, loathes Heathcliff from the very moment that he set eyes on him. With this being said, whenever Wuthering Heights is taken over by Hindley, he demeans Heathcliff by sending him to work as a common laborer in the stables. In return, Heathcliff retaliates with revenge on Hindley through his son Hareton. He is then treated with the same abuse that Heathcliff received as a child. Heathcliff treats Hareton ruthlessly and demands him to work as a servant within his own home. Having once been the victim of Hindley’s abuse, Heathcliff knows the severity of pain that he is enacting on Hareton, yet he feels no guilt or remorse, “I can sympathise with all his feelings, having felt them myself. I know what he suffers now, for instance, exactly: it is merely a beginning of what he shall suffer, though” (Bronte 194). The abuse that Heathcliff reacts with does not stop with hurting one person. An example of his continuation of abuse is when he forces Isabella to witness the hanging of her dog, along with witnessing the litter of puppies being hung by Hareton.

Another example of abuse contributing to the repetition aspect of the novel is the way that Catherine becomes obsessed with scheming and controlling others. With this, another parallel is drawn between Catherine and young Catherine in the way that young Catherine manipulates others by gaining sympathy from them. Bronte’s captivating love story, Wuthering Heights, contains parallel and recurring events, which in return, give the reader insight into the characters and what those characters disclose within their comparable relationships. Love’s often disparaging influences set against the devastating power of nature is underlined through Bronte’s utilization of repetition. The past being repeated unknowingly and the overall idea of aspects of life being eternal are two ideas in which Bronte expressed the romance and heartbreak of this tale.

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