Wuthering Heights and Frankenstein - Theme of the Divided Self

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Theme of the divided self within Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
Thematically, the divided self is one of the most interesting themes within both novels and is of great importance to the development or ruin of the characters in both ‘Wuthering Heights' and ‘Frankenstein.' Both authors when primarily exploring this theme focus upon the physical, mental or spiritual division within certain characters.

In Emily Bronte's novel ‘Wuthering Heights,' the principal characters Cathy and Heathcliff are presented as needing this division within themselves to recognise their need for each other. This endurance of physical, mental and spiritual division whilst alive, allows them only tragically to experience when in death, complete entity within themselves.

Primarily Cathy is not depicted as divided; instead, she is presented as belonging to a family unit, which seems to stay intact until the arrival of a ‘gypsy brat.' Although Heathcliff creates a divide within the family due to his arrival, Cathy is seen to gain a friend with whom she feels she has an affinity both physically, spiritually and mentally, which will become increasingly evident as the novel progresses. However, this alliance throughout the novel is frequently thrown into turmoil by outside influences or factors. As we are informed from the onset, the "greatest punishment" that could be bestowed upon Cathy was separation from Heathcliff.

Cathy and Heathcliff's separation only therefore ensues as a result of their initial outing to Thrushcross Grange. Their promise to grow up together as ‘rude as savages,' is destroyed when Cathy and Heathcliff are separated physically by many factors resulting from this visitation. Just as the Linton's dog ‘holds' Cathy, so too is the Linton's house symbolically presented as separating her from Heathcliff, when Heathcliff resorts to peering in through their ‘great glass panes' to see Cathy, after being physically ‘dragged' out of Thrushcross Grange.

Cathy is also depicted as physically separated from Heathcliff even when she returns to Wuthering Heights. Instead of a ‘wild, hatless little savage' with whom Heathcliff has an affinity with, she returns as a ‘very dignified person.' Heathcliff is now therefore separated physically from Cathy, not only by appearance but as he said in the previous chapter, her superiority "to everybody," including him.

The presentation of Cathy and Heathcliff as physically divided is not only literally seen through the differing households but also through Cathy's own actions and attire. Although Thrushcross Grange is symbolically portrayed as repressing Cathy and separating her from Heathcliff, Cathy is presented as ‘readily' accepting from the Linton's, ‘fine clothes and flattery,' which would in turn distinguish her from Heathcliff when she returns.

Upon her arrival, she is immediately seen as separated when she sits above everyone else ‘upon a handsome black pony.' This is emphasised further when although Cathy is joyful to return, she refrains from touching the dogs, ‘lest they should fawn upon her splendid garments.' Similarly, when Cathy encounters Heathcliff, although she runs to embrace him, she gazes ‘concernedly' at her dress, which she fears has become ‘embellished.'

Emily Bronte clearly depicts the physical state of the divided self also through Cathy and Heathcliff's marriages. Only when Cathy marries Edgar and Heathcliff marries Isabella, can we truly see the division within the self. As we see throughout the novel, Heathcliff's absence has a profound effect upon the steady decline of Catherine's physical and mental state of health. Due to their separation, Catherine no longer recognises her own reflection as Heathcliff mirrored all that she represented. "Don't you see that face?… It was yourself Mrs Linton: You knew it a while since."

The relationship between male and...
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