IMBALANCE IN NATURE Since the dawn of human thought, man has sought to define the relationships between all things surrounding him. He categorizes every living creature, labels every natural element and names every phenomenon. He then connects each object to another with a line and draws the line back to himself. This way, he feels omnipotent, confidently grasping the essence of his world in his hands.
Such behavior seems to have peaked in the nineteenth century when many intellectuals around the world were pre-occupied with defining the relationships between man and the society, man and God, man and nature, and man and man. The preservation of order intrigued them and the concept of entropy frightened them. Many of the writers from the nineteenth century were also captivated by these relationships and Emily Bront was no exception. Although Bronts Wuthering Heights is best known as a tale of tragic love, it is also a very provocative study of relationships, especially those between social classes. Bront creates a microcosm of the upper-class English society in Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. It is a relatively controlled environment until Bront allows factors from the outside world (and different social classes) to seep into the society.
Immediately, the balance of the two families is disturbed and when the pillars of support (the parents) disappear, the entire society is thrust into complete turmoil. From this premise, Bront begins to highlight contrasting, paradoxical and complimenting relationships between the characters. These pairs are formed and / or destroyed by the interjection of influence from the outside. Wuthering Heights is an incredibly poignant suggestion of the dangers of disrupting equilibrium and in the story, serenity is only returned when the disturbing factors are destroyed and nature is allowed to run its course again. Bronts narrator Lockwood, introduces us t the bleak world of Wuthering Heights many years after Heathcliffs interjection into the natural order. Details seem disagreeable from the very start of the narrative.
After a completely inhospitable welcome, Lockwood notes, even the gate over which he leant manifested no sympathizing movement to the words (3). In an estate such as Wuthering Heights, one would expect to find an army of caretakers and grounds men, constantly pruning and digging to beautify the property. However, immediately upon his arrival, Lockwood notices that Here we have the whole establishment of domestics No wonder the grass grows up between the flags, and cattle are the only hedge-cutters (3). Wuthering Heights is overgrown with weeds and lies uncared for. The interior of the house is no better off. The kitchen into which Lockwood is led, is desolate and cold, much like the moors that surround both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange.
Lockwood observed no signs of roasting, boiling, or baking about the huge fire-place; nor any glitter of copper saucepans and tin cullenders on the walls (4). The vacuum of this room alone seems to suck all the life and warmth out of the house. (Or is it Heathcliff) Even the dogs that roam the house seem slightly devilish; Lockwoods caress only provokes further animosity from the animals. The other inhabitants of the house act much the same. On his second visit, Lockwood meets Catherine Linton (the younger) and Hareton; both return his attempts at conversation and help with growing scorn and spite. Lockwood even notes that the only sentiment [Catherines eyes] evinced hovered between scorn and a kind of desperation, singularly unnatural to be detected there (9).
Although he ironically regards the residents of Wuthering Heights as a pleasant family circle (11), Lockwoods narrative strongly suggests an overall feeling of unease between them. There is very little conversation, and most of the talking comes as rash commands from Heathcliff. The temperament inside the estate mirrors the thundering weather that is pounding on the life outside. Heathcliffs presence is ultimately, disturbing nature.
Bront has created a world with two complimenting families, the Earnshaw and the Lintons. Both live on handsome estates, Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange respectfully. They are in the upper class and their daily lives are fittingly similar. There is an undeniable parallel between the families which in an undisturbed world, would have been united in two generations. Hindley Earnshaw should have married Isabella Linton while Edgar Linton and Catherine happily wed. The offspring of those unions (Catherine and Hareton) would also marry and complete the concatenation of the families.
This is the natural order and Bront illustrates a society where the intended is strikingly obvious. In doing so, she increases the severity with which outside interference can cause imbalance. Therefore, Heathcliffs arrival into the Earnshaw family (as narrated by Nelly) becomes an immediate and striking threat. Throughout Wuthering Heights, evil continually triumphs over goodness. The struggle between good and evil, heaven and hell is constantly present in Bronts world. This begins with Heathcliffs arrival at Wuthering Heights.
Heathcliff possesses the dark features and personality commonly associated with hell or the devil. Devils are thought of as cunning and very deceitful creatures, tempting the weak to their own destruction, (Catherine, Isabella, young Linton). They bring to mind fear of evil and power; If Hareton does not turn you out of the room, I'll strike him to hell (pg. 259). Heathcliff appears, upon his arrival and throughout the first half of the book, to have purely evil intentions in many of his actions. With further inspection, however, one can argue that he, Catherine and Hindley all inflict on others only the pain that they each have suffered themselves.
These three characters appear to have more of a struggle within themselves than with the other characters. There is immediate animosity towards Heathcliff in the Earnshaw family when Mr. Earnshaw brings him home from Liverpool and it is obvious that Wuthering Heights has been thrown into turmoil. However, Bront holds off Heathcliffs introduction to Thrushcross Grange so as to capture a comparative picture of the two families immediately after outside interjection. At the point, the inhabitants Thrushcross Grange (the Lintons) are described as light-skinned, fair featured (almost angelic) people. Their personalities contradict those of the inhabitants of Wuthering Heights; the Lintons have a much more timid and forgiving nature.
It almost seems as if Bront is suggesting that they are the unsuspecting goodness that is tainted and destroyed by the evil forcefulness of, not only Heathcliff, but the products of Wuthering Heights. When Heathcliff first sees Thrushcross Grange (upon his afternoon banishment from the sitting-room), he describes it as a splendid place carpeted with crimson, and crimson-covered chairs and tables, and a pure white ceiling bordered by gold (37). Thrushcross Grange is a symbol of civility, compared with the wilderness that has now covered Wuthering Heights, which in turn is embodied in Heathcliff. After Catherine is bitten by the Granges dogs (a foreshadowing image of Heathcliffs evil canines), she is removed from the heath of Wuthering Heights and is soon instilled with the values incarnate of the Lintons. There is a new refined nature about her and even though Hindley shows great pride in her presence, it is obvious that she is no longer part of Heathcliffs world. Upon returning to Wuthering Heights, Catherine becomes much more haughty and feminine and scoffs at the unclean, rough appearance of Heathcliff.
This scars him emotionally for the rest of their relationship and begins the deterioration and obsession of their love for each other. Their relationship is now divided and no longer as close to one another. However, after Catherines acceptance of Edgar marriage proposal, during a conversation with Nelly, she admits her true passion for Heathcliff. However, she also confesses that she cannot marry Heathcliff because, it would degrade [her] (73).
She is fated to feel this way because of Heathcliffs appearance as a servant and farm hand. Catherine knows that she must marry into a wealthy family to secure a comfortable future for herself. When the Heathcliff is exposed to Catherines remarks as to his social status, he runs away. He realizes that, to win back Catherines love, he must become part of the social elite, and when he returns three years later, he is filled with renewed fervor and love for Catherine.
He transforms himself into a gentleman with moderate wealth. But this faa de only lasts for a short time before the vengeful Heathcliff surfaces again begins his revenge. Heathcliff makes many deliberate attempts to bring down and degrade both families as he himself had been degraded. The only thing that halts him from acting out absolute vengeance is his undying love for Catherine.
As time passes however, she becomes pregnant and falls gravely ill. Heathcliff comes to see her knowing that she needs him. Catherine even demands that he stay with her regardless of what Edgar thought. Heathcliff says to her, Ill stay. If he shot me so, Id expire with a blessing on my lips (149). This relationship, from beginning to end, is absolutely unnatural and Bront suggest that it is the major cause of Catherines deterioration and death.
The struggle between good and evil does not free the two families until Heathcliff's death. Linton, Isabella, Catherine and Edgar, all tainted by Heathcliffs impurity, are gone by the end of the novel. The unnatural interjections therefore, die with Heathcliff; no remnant of his evil remains. With the marriage of Catherine Linton and Hareton Earnshaw, Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange are finally returned to normalcy. Equilibrium is restored and Bronts world is once again, the bright and shinning society the novel began with.