The opposing forces of Wuthering Heights.
Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights can be seen as one of the most influential works of fiction produced during the Victorian age. In Brontë’s novel, the reader will encounter many oppositions across several elements of the story. These oppositions play a vital role in the development of both the characters and the plot and have been discussed by many critics. According to Melvin R. Watson, as he describes in his article “Tempest in the Soul: The Theme and Structure of “Wuthering Heights,”” a most influential theory is that of the opposing forces of calm and storm developed by Lord David Cecil (Watson, 88). This theory, however, does not completely ...view middle of the document...
It is constantly exposed to the raw forces of nature, with the north wind battering the house without end. It was built to withstand the impact of the winds with its thick walls and deep set windows, allowing little light to penetrate into the interior. The opposing force to this land of storm can be found in Thrushcross Grange, which is surrounded by parks and located in the valley below the Heights and thus sheltered from the elements. The house itself is portrayed as an oasis of peace and quiet and, although not nearly as elaborately described as Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff’s account of the property gives the reader this exact impression:
Both of us were able to look in by standing on the basement, and clinging to the ledge, and we saw – ah! it was beautiful – a splendid place carpeted with crimson, and crimson-covered chairs and tables, and a pure white ceiling bordered by gold, a shower of glass-drops hanging in silver chains from the centre, and shimmering with little soft tapers. (Brontë, 33)
These two estates, the characteristics of which are reflected on their inhabitants, make up the setting and contribute greatly to the development of both the characters and the plot.
The characters of Heathcliff and Edgar Linton can be seen as opposites in the very same way Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange can. As pointed out by Catherine herself: “The two resembled what you see in exchanging a bleak, hilly coal country for a beautiful, fertile valley.” (Brontë,) Her description gives Heathcliff a rugged and stalwart quality, both in appearance and personality, while Edgar is made out to be gentle and fragile. In his article Tempest in the Soul: The Theme and Structure of Wuthering Heights, Melvin R. Watson describes the contrast between Heathcliff and Edgar as such:
Edgar Linton, on the other hand, contrasts with Heathcliff in another way. In another novel, he might have been a conventional Victorian hero: he is presentable and well-mannered, sincere but somewhat smug, good-looking but pallid, devoted to Catherine but incapable of understanding or possessing her. His moral sense the Victorian reader could comprehend and sympathise with. In Wuthering Heights however, he is an anomaly, owning Catherine without possessing her, resenting Heathcliff, but lacking the power to thwart him. (Watson, 93.)
Watson continues by explaining that Catherine is the only character in the novel that stands on equal ground with Heathcliff, being able to control him, but having forfeited this ability by her marriage with Edgar. In the novel, Catherine passionately exclaims in the presence of Miss Ellen Dean:
My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff. He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to...