Two Women's Marriage Tragedies in Wuthering Heights

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Two Women’s Marriage Tragedies in Wuthering Heights

Ⅰ. Introduction

Wuthering Heights tells a story of love and revenge, and unfolds to us series of stories about the displacement and rehabilitation of feelings. But what the author concerns is neither the emergence and development of love nor the one by one specific revenge. It is the intensity of love and hate that the author pays close attention to. By telling the stories of pains and sorrows between the two couples, Emily Bronte leaves the readers the impressions that they can hardly forget: the wind-swept wasteland, the protagonist’s unrestrained personality, and the eternal love like the immortal mountains and the ferocious lightning.

Wuthering Heights, published in 1847, contains a total of 34 chapters in two volumes, in which volume one contains 14 chapters while volume two contains 20 chapters. The time span of the whole story experienced 31 years from the year 1771 when the orphan Heathcliff was brought back from the street of Liverpool by the old master, to the fall of 1802 when small Catherine and Hareton became a pair of lovers.

In 1917, the text “a Brief Study on the West Women Novelist” for the first time introduced the Bronte sisters to the Chinese readers. From then on to the present day, Wuthering Heights has been widely commented by readers and scholars in China and abroad. It has gradually become a hot topic among Chinese and Western literary critics. Looking at the history of China's criticism of Wuthering Heights, we can find that during the past hundred years the critical thinking of Wuthering Heights has been surging forward vigorously. Such as Marxism, feminism and Christian cultural studies, narrative theory, literary criticism and other aspects of schools of studies, and they all have done a certain depth of research on Wuthering Heights from their different theoretical perspectives respectively. Others also have done some research from the aspects of images, characters, name implications, and have also made many achievements.

This paper is based on Marxism theory that human beings are products of social relations and the “economic base determines superstructure” theory. Through analyze of the tragedies of the two females’ marriages in this novel, people get the right attitude toward love: love is bilateral and only we make a balance between material and spiritual can we gain happiness.

Ⅱ. Catherine’s love and marriage

Mixed with the women’s weakness and stubborn personality, Catherine is a complicated figure. She has both thoughts of freedom and vanity. The two different kinds of characteristics affect Catherine’s choice making in choosing a husband and that finally lead to her marriage tragedy. Catherine’s father is the owner of Wuthering Heights, which is a bleak farmhouse on the windswept Yorkshire moors. Born with a silver spoon in her mouth, Catherine grows up in a sufficient family. Such kind of background of her family is one of the reasons for the forming of her special characteristics.

On one hand, she is free-spirited, spoiled, rebellious, and often arrogant. In Catherine’s childhood she was innocent, having the character of the original nature. She loves and hates everything from her inner heart. And her love with Heathcliff is savage and strange: “They both promised fair to grow up as rude as savages.” 1 Although she is a princess in a feudalism manor, she puts away all the regulations and refuses to live like other girls in the upper-class world. She has a number of temperaments that other children does not have. As Nelly says that “she put all of us past our patience fifty times and oftener in a day: from the hour she came downstairs till the hour she went to bed, we had not a minute’s security that she wouldn’t be in mischief. Her spirits were always at high-water mark, her tongue always going----singing, laughing, and plaguing everybody who would not do the same.”2 So with the coming of Heathcliff the...
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