Critical Theory in Wuthering Heights

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In Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, readers are introduced to a variety of conflicts and clashing characteristics. Even though this is common in many novels, many of these conflicts take place within one character then progress into external conflicts between characters. For example what caused Catherine to pick Edgar over Heathcliff? Did she love Edgar more? Or was her love for him forged by her superego as defined in Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams? Even the character herself is unsure of her true desires, which leads to the major conflicts within her, others, and between characters. This is just one of the numerous examples of issues which ensue throughout the course of this novel. In order to properly analyze the characters of Wuthering Heights, one must analyze the author, Emily Bronte, first. Following Freud’s ideology in regards to the variety of stages in psychosexual development, it appears that Emily Bronte never fully progressed past the phallic stage in which one gains a disdain for the parent of the same sex. Bronte’s mother died when she was around three years old, which is the time where the development of an Oedipus (for males) or Electra (for females) complex takes place. This is showed by the fact that all of the mothers in the novel die while they have children who are still reliant on them, such as Bronte experienced with her mother. The City University of New York’s English Department explains how Bronte’s use of Catherine, Heathcliff, and Edgar represent her ego, id, and superego as follows:   “She sees in the symbiosis of Catherine, Heathcliff, and Edgar the relationship of Freud's id, ego, and superego. At a psychological level, they merge into one personality with Heathcliff's image of the three of them buried (the unconscious) in what is essentially one coffin. Heathcliff, the id, expresses the most primitive drives (like sex), seeks pleasure, and avoids pain; the id is not affected by time and remains in...
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