Characterization in Wuthering Heights Essay

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Wuthering Heights deals with the very nature of controversy and paradox. The novel expresses deep criticisms of social conventions, and Brontë uses her characters in their incongruous surroundings to exemplify her concerns of the strict social code which she herself was expected to abide by, whilst remaining true to the principles she considered most important. Wuthering Heights challenges orthodoxy with heterodoxy, of which destruction and chaos triumph over social pretensions.

The most undeniably constant difference of aesthetics and values that is presented to us is the juxtaposition of Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights, initially personified by Lockwood and Heathcliff, `a dark skinned gypsy', respectively. Lockwood reckoned that he had acted so coldly to the requited affections of the `real goddess' that was his love, she `persuaded her mamma to decamp'. However, he discovers that relative to Heathcliff, he finds himself extremely sociable, where Heathcliff treats his visitor with the minimum of friendliness and warmth. Following his failure at love, Lockwood, a self-described `misanthropist', rented Thrushcross Grange in an effort to separate himself from society. Ironically, Thrushcross Grange is the epitomising symbol of superficial Victorian society. Wuthering Heights is just as foreign and unfriendly as Heathcliff's character, where `Wuthering' is synonymous with `atmospheric tumult' and wild dogs inhibit the bare and old-fashioned rooms. The casual violence and lack of concern for manners or consideration for other people which characterises Heathcliff here, is the central mood of the whole novel, in which unharnessed, natural hostility is contrasted with the genteel and more civilised ways of living. Both Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights inhabit dogs; however the dangerous nature of the wild dogs emphasises the chaotic and natural atmosphere that is Wuthering Heights, whereas the Linton children of Thrushcross Grange own a domesticated, pet dog.

Hindley felt that his place as a son had been usurped, particularly since Heathcliff had been named after his dead brother, which created an instant division between these two characters. Hindley presented himself as the Victorian ideal of gentlemanly charm: sensitive and emotional, and when he took this out on Heathcliff, Hindley discovered that he is hardened and stoical, representative of unsociability and not Victorian gentility, which furthermore enforces the opposing ideals of society versus Heathcliff. Heathcliff again acted passively when Hindley returned and terminated his education, threatened by his intellectual presence. As a result of her Father's harshness, Catherine also became hardened to reproof, which drew her closer to Heathcliff. The ultimate lack of morality in Heathcliff is demonstrated where he `showed the intensest anguish at having made himself the instrument of thwarting his own revenge' against Hindley in his willingness to allow him to kill his own son by mistake.

The interactions between Heathcliff and Catherine undergo immense exterior pressures and changes in only the first volume of the novel. When Heathcliff was introduced to the Earnshaw family as a `dirty, ragged, black-haired child', a `vagabond', he and young, spoilt Catherine could not appear more different. However, partly united by Joseph's false and oppressive sermons, the relationship between Heathcliff and Catherine manifests itself in opposition to the outside world of parental and patriarchal authority. Both flee to the moors to escape the social restrictions imposed on them, and form an entirely unique bond which had not developed from sexual attraction, but from the unity of a specific psyche. Everything emotionally significant experienced by Heathcliff and Catherine either took place in their childhood or follows directly from commitments made then, and neither character eventually matures. Both characters never essentially grow out...
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