Wuthering Heights “Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living” (Bronte, 163)! In this quote, Heathcliffs pain from Catherines death is obvious. Wuthering Heights is a Victorian novel regarding the lives of the Earnshaws and Lintons. Through three generations, they all experience wave after wave of tragedy all originating with Heathcliffs overwhelming desire for revenge against the Lintons. This hatred is brought on by the treatment Heathcliff receives from the Lintons as well as Edgar Lintons marriage to Catherine, his soul mate. Although many passages of love are exposed in Wuthering Heights, the true genre of this book is tragedy due to the role of characters other than Heathcliff, the untraditional happy ending, and the death of the heroine early in the story. The role of several characters makes this novel a tragedy.
Hindley, Hareton, Cathy, and Linton would be completely unneeded if this were a true love story. Hindley becomes Heathcliffs Nemesis from the very beginning. He is cruel and hateful towards Heathcliff. “He [Hindley] drove him [Heathcliff] from their company to the servants, deprived him of the instructions of the curate, and insisted that he should labour out of doors instead, compelling him to do so as hard as any other lad on the farm” (Bronte, 49). Hareton is also unessential to a love between Catherine and Heathcliff.
Hareton is Hindleys son and is treated like a slave, much the way Heathcliff was treated as a boy by Hindley. At one point, Heathcliff, talking to Nelly, describes what is in store for Hareton, “I know what he suffers now, for instance, exactly; it is merely a beginning of what he shall suffer, though””(Bronte, 211). Hareton and Cathys love does make for a reconciliation of all this tragedy. However, it is after the majority of the book and therefore does not negate the previous misfortune. Linton is a pathetic boy who only brings disgust and general pity to the book. Through the book, Linton is very sick.
In this scene, Cathy has come to pay him a visit, “..trembling, and retaining her hand as if he needed its support, while his large blue eyes wandered timidly over her, the hollowness round them transforming to haggard wildness the languid expression they once possessed” (Bronte, 249). None of these characters are heroic or essential to the love between Catherine and Heathcliff. The only possible heroic figure is Heathcliff who is evil and rotten. Furthermore, this novel does not have a traditional love story ending. Nearly the entire key characters die and most before the book is halfway over. In the first half, Heathcliff and Catherine are soul mates, yet she marries another. To the last day of her life, they argue and blame each other for their unhappiness.
In their last moments together, Heathcliff berates Catherine for the pain she has caused him. “I have not broken your heart you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine” (Bronte, 158). True love is not selfish and does not blame. Even after Catherine is dead, the love between Cathy and Linton is very shallow. It is not a true love story because of his apathy towards her.
“His lack of interest in the subjects she stated, and his equal incapacity to contribute to her entertainment, were so obvious, that she could not conceal her disappointment” (Bronte, 249). Also, Heathcliff forced them to marry. The only sense of a love story is at the very end when Hareton and Cathy are seen as a happy couple. But, this too was plagued by Cathys ridicule of him, “Oh, you dunce” (Bronte, 239)! Also, this was plagued by his maltreatment of her, “I was afraid for a moment, and I let one volume fall; he kicked it after me and shut us out” (Bronte, 240). Even though all seems well in the end, this is not a typical romance.
Additionally, our heroine dies early in the novel. She is consumed with brain fever and never recovers. Her love for Heathcliff is only apparent during the childhood years. Selfishness and anger overwhelm any feelings of love she has toward him as an adult. With her gone and half the book remaining, it is impossible to continue with any type of love story between them. In fact, Heathcliff spends the rest of his life eaten with anger and anger does not breed love. He is even angry towards Catherine because she married Edgar instead of following her heart.
“Why did you betray your own heart, Cathy? I have not one word of comfort” (Bronte, 158). Their love is, in fact a tragedy, because it is a spiritual, rather than physical love and they are only truly united after their deaths. There seem to be no feelings of happiness related to any feelings of love between Heathcliff and Catherine. Conclusively, the love that is in this novel is not a pure love. Everyone is full of anger, hate, and resentment. It is difficult to classify this novel as a love story because it is not happy.
It is apparent that because of the additional characters of Hindley, Hareton, Cathy, and Linton, as well as the uncommon ending, and the early death of our heroine, this novel should be classified as a tragedy.