Cathy and Heathcliff – a wicked love story
The dark, gothic tale, Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë has always been at the top of my list of favourite classics.
Wuthering Heights follows the passionate and twisted relationship between Catherine Earnshaw, and orphan Heathcliff, who was adopted as a young boy by Catherine’s father. Although they are raised together, Heathcliff and Catherine form a deep affection for each other. After Catherine’s father passes away, Heathcliff is subjected to intense humiliation by Catherine’s brother, who has never viewed him as an equal, and resented Mr Earnshaw’s favourable treatment of his adopted son. This creates the foundation for the cruel and often monstrous behaviour that later defines Heathcliff’s character, and the novel overall. Mistakenly fearing that Catherine does not reciprocate his feelings, Healthcliff leaves Wuthering Heights, to return years later a successful but hard man, keen on seeking revenge to everyone he believes has wronged him.
Wuthering Heights is ultimately a complex story about Heathcliff’s relationship with Cathy that blurs the boundaries love, hatred and obsession. Heathcliff’s anger and resentment for his prior miseries permeate throughout the novel, and as a reader, you are drawn into his intense anger and need for revenge. Heathcliff’s cruel treatment of all other characters in the novel is unrelenting, and is underpinned by a need for control and approval. His character is only softened by his genuine love for Cathy, which despite the way he has treated all those she has cared for, has always been hauntingly sincere. Heathcliff’s jealousy for Cathy’s affection has been the catalyst for his wild behaviour, and his place in the novel reverts to the tormented one after her death.
Encompassing the descriptive, lonely setting of the nearby moors, and the dark temperament of Heathcliff, Wuthering Heights is a moody, yet mesmerising novel that stays with you afterwards. Regardless of Heathcliff’s antagonistic qualities, he still manages to be a character that has a kind of charm, that for me, makes it impossible to dislike him.