Wuthering Heights: Summary Analysis

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       Wuthering Heights is the only novel of Emily Bronte published in 1847. It is unique in the English novel, having no derivative and no successor except in some of the novels of Thomas Hardy. The central figure of the novel is Heathcliffe, the owner of the house called Wuthering Heights, severe, gloomy and brutal in aspect and atmosphere, firmly rooted in local tradition and custom. Heathcliffe, is, indeed, the human incarnation of the house, primitive, wild and terrific. As an orphan in childhood he was picked up from the streets of Liverpool by Mr. Earnshaw and given asylum in his house. There Heathcliffe is brought up as one of the children of the family. A passionate love springs up between him and Catherine, the daughter of Earnshaw. Bullied and humiliated by Hindley the son of Earnshaw, Heathcliffe deserts the house on the death of his foster-father.


A passionate love springs up between him and Catherine, the daughter of Earnshaw. Bullied and humiliated by Hindley the son of Earnshaw, Heathcliffe deserts the house on the death of his foster-father.
Wuthering Heights


      Returning after three years he finds Catherine married to Edgar Linton, the owner of the Thrushcross Grange, who possesses refinement, kindness, affluence and amiability. Catherine had married him in her superficial attraction for his luxury. Catherine's love for Edgar is only a passing attraction, while in the depth of her heart there burned the consuming passion for Healthcliffe. In a famous passage, full of lyrical beauty she explains her feelings thus: "My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods; time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliffe resembles the eternal rocks beneath; a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliffe! He's always, always in my mind; not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being."


      Out of this conflict the whole story proceeds and takes its serious course. Heathcliffe to revenge himself upon all those who spoiled all his chances of happiness, married Isabella Linton, Edgar's sister and ill treated her. He had a sickly and repulsive child by her. Catherine had died of child birth, the daughter was Cathy. Heathcliffe arranged a marriage between his son and the daughter of Catherine. But the son died. Thus Heathcliffe had his revengeful career and was at last worn out and died.


      In its bare outlines the novel seems to be a conventional romantic story of love and adventure, "a mixture of brutal melodrama and exaggerated sentiment". But this would be an unfair view of such a terrible, extraordinary book. As an exploration of human passion at different levels and of the effect produced on human life by the interplay of such social levels, the novel is quite new in the history of the English novel. No other novel of the age has penetrated so far into depths of passion or followed. the intensity of its operation to ultimate consequence with such relentless logic. The chief characters in the story are scarcely human beings and defy all psychological analysis, They are elemental forces of nature and passions incarnate. The fusion of nature and man in the story has its parallel only in Hardy's great novels. For its tragic splendour and the beauty and lyricism of style, no praises can be too high. The result of all this is a unique imaginative creation, which ignoring all accepted models of contemporary novel, aspires rather to the simplicity and grandeur of ancient tragedy.

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