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Isolation in Wuthering Heights

By gabig323 Dec 12, 2010 792 Words
Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte, is set in the detached Yorkshire moors during the early nineteenth century and depicts the lives of two contrasting families. Because Wuthering Heights was written during the Romanticism movement, many characteristics of the movement are reflected by the novel. The characters' reasons for becoming isolated are universal and can be connected to situations found in modern music. Bronte reveals universal aspects of the human condition by highlighting the manner in which the characters become isolated- either by their own choice or unintentionally.

Catherine has made herself ill by refusing food and drink for days. Believing she is on the verge of death, Catherine becomes hysterical and remembers her childhood with Heathcliff. During this episode, Catherine reveals her true feelings about her marriage to Edgar and her longing to be a child again. “I had been wrenched from the Heights, and every early association... at that time, had been converted at a stroke into Mrs. Linton...: an exile, an outcast” (pg. 118). Catherine has unintentionally isolated herself from where she belongs and is miserable in the high-society culture of Thrushcross Grange. Although Catherine believed raising her social status and obtaining material objects would make her happy, it is not the case. Catherine does not fit in with the mannered and refined society at the Grange and realizes she truly belongs with Heathcliff. Catherine longs to be a child again because she had freedom in nature with Heathcliff, her true love. A similar situation occurs in A Billion Ernies' “Hermit Crab”. In this song, the anonymous speaker feels tortured and alone although they have all the material objects one could wish for. “This is torture at its finest state/ My blankets are warm and there's too much on my plate/ … but I think I'll sleep under the stars tonight/... I feel content... lying on a rock, sleeping in a tent/... I've got everything I need right here/ I thought I had it all” (A Billion Ernies). Warm blankets, a plate of food and a glowing fireplace do not satisfy the speaker. The speaker feels isolated in her/his current situation and longs to be free. Having freedom in nature fulfills the speaker more than having materialistic wealth. The speaker in “Hermit Crab” and Catherine were isolated in their situations although they had material riches. Both realize where they truly fit in, where they could be free from isolation, and no longer believe material objects and riches lead to happiness

Catherine Linton has recently given birth to a child and passed away. Shortly thereafter, Isabella unexpectedly arrives at the Grange flustered and upset. Isabella tells Nelly of a violent fight between Hindley and Heathcliff, which has caused her to run away. These evens cause Edgar Linton much grief and he to chooses to isolate himself from society. “He refrained from going anywhere where he was likely to see or hear of Heathcliff. Grief, and that together, transformed him into a complete hermit” (pg. 173). Edgar Linton experiences intense grief as a result of the death of Catherine Linton and the fleeing of Isabella and isolated himself at the Grange. These events cause Edgar to question where he belongs and his purpose in the world, which he contemplates while isolated. Similarly in “What Hurts the Most”, by Rascal Flats, the anonymous speaker is lamenting the loss of a loved one. The speaker's loved one passes away before he has a chance to say everything he wants to her, which is what hurts him the most. “It's hard to deal with the pain of loosin' you everywhere I go.../ It's hard to force that smile when I see our old friends and I'm alone/ Still harder gettin' up, gettin' dressed” (Rascal Flats). The speaker finds it difficult to live without his loved one and see the friends of his loved one. Simply getting up in the morning is difficult for the speaker because he is now questioning the world. After the death of a significant person, facing society is difficult and sorrow causes isolation and confusion.

Many of the universal, everlasting truths of the Romantic movement are still present in prose today. Even in today's society, people feel isolated when they do not belong in a place, no matter what the reasons. Worldly objects do not bring happiness and only a sense of belonging brings freedom from isolation and peace of mind. Also, even in modern times, the loss of someone close causes mixed emotions about life and a person's sense of belonging. The death of a loved one continues to cause such intense lamentation that a person may choose to isolate himself/herself from society. The human condition is timeless.

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