Wuthering Heights Assignment Round 2
The two men in Catherine's life represent one of many sets of doubles within the novel. Both of these men contrast one another, and fight for power, influence, love and attention in her life. Because both Edgar and Heathcliff both represent contrasting forces in the novel, they are unable to work together or act amiably towards one another. The goal of each one is to remove the other from Cathy's life. After Catherine's death, Heathcliff attempts to sneakily remove the lock of Edgar's hair enclosed in the locket about her neck and replace it with his own. In "open[ing] the trinket, and cast[ing] out its contents," (145) Heathcliff believes that he has won this battle with Edgar. Symbolically, this action represents Heathcliff casting Edgar out of Catherine's life and heart, and filling the space with himself. Heathcliff walks out of the room believing that Catherine's body will be put to rest with only his lock of hair on her, meaning that he will be with her for the remainder of her physical existence on this world. However, Nelly steps in and intertwines Edgar's hair with Heathcliff's. Both Edgar and Heathcliff live their lives believing that Catherine is holding a lock of only their own hair in her coffin, thinking that they are the only one who will be with her in death. However, Nelly's actions represent the fact that despite the two men's efforts of trying to win Catherine to themselves wholly, even in death, that Catherine holds both of them in her heart, and that neither one cannot be completely cast out.
As Catherine is discussing the nature of her love for both Edgar and Heathcliff, she reveals a doubling within her personality. She says, "Nelly, I am Heathcliff," (70) and continues on to say that any separation between them "is impracticable." This revelation reveals a lot regarding their relationship, and how the two of them seem inseparable throughout the novel. It explains why Catherine allows Heathcliff to repeatedly come back into her life even though the sheer mention of his name perturbs Edgar's composure. The double that is Catherine/Heathcliff explains why Heathcliff is constantly a part of Catherine's life. For Catherine, Heathcliff is less of a separate person, a different entity, but more of a projection of her personality. Heathcliff represents the wild, naturalistic aspect of her personality, which has been suppressed by her change into a civil, upper-class person. As such, this suppressed personality returns in waves, exhibited both in her fits, and Heathcliff's unrelenting visits, refusing to be put out like the fire Edgar regards it to be.
The reoccurring theme of doubles is at its strongest within chapter 15 as Lockwood begins narrating the story to the reader from Nelly's perspective. To clarify, the events have already been recounted to Lockwood through Nelly, and now he is narrating the story after she has told it to him, through her perspective, "She is, on the whole, a very fair narrator, and I don't think I could improve her style" (134). Needless to say, the reader is experiencing the story not secondhand, but thirdhand. Also, Nelly has already been revealed to be an unreliable narrator, as well as Lockwood. Combining the two is certain to have a profound effect on the story itself. The narration of the story has already had a tone of gossip about it, especially since Nelly called herself as a "gossip" (53). Now the 'he said she said' essence of the story takes its strongest form, as we, the readers, are hearing about it 'through the grapevine.' Brontë uses this doubling of narration to emphasize the removal of the reader from the events in the story. The shadow of doubt the novel has been shrouded in is now a level deeper and darker than it has been up to this point in the novel. Nelly's biased narration of events, whose memory is blurred by time, is now coupled with Lockwood's own character flaws of...
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