Selfishness Emily Bronte accompanies her siblings, Charlotte, Anne, and Bran well, in a series of romantic writings. Emily stayed at various boarding schools but lived most of her life in her family s secluded home in Yorkshire, England. Biographers indicate that she enjoyed a solitary lifestyle in the natural beauty of the moors when not in her home. Emily Bronte devoted her life to her father because her mother s tragic death left him helpless. She and her sisters were not introduced to the idea of marriage but instead were taught that they must be fully attentive to their father s needs. As she did not leave her house, Emily wrote poetry and short stories to fill her time.
She became passionate about her writings and sent them to a publisher to be published. In trying to publish her book, a friendship and correspondence developed between Emily and an editor. Emily s infatuation with the editor grew, but their relationship was platonic as he was a married man. She remained his mutual correspond till her early death at the age of thirty.
Emily Bronte s passionate style of writing has bewildered many biographers, because they cannot imagine such writing coming from such a reserved person. Emily Bronte incorporated into her works of Victorian writings... the horror and mystery of a gothic novel, the remote setting and passionate characters of a romantic novel, and the social criticism of a Victorian novel... (Cerrito 107) She transformed her stories ofVictorian times, to ones of marvel by incorporating elements of all times. Bronte s only novel, Wuthering Heights, is considered one of the most powerful and original work ofVictorian literature. In Wuthering Heights, Bronte...
demonstrated the conflict between elemental passions and civilized society... (Cerrito 107) Wuthering Heights is a compelling work that shows the direct effect of selfishness on happiness. Selfishness directly effects happiness in that an increase in selfishness lead to torment, while a decrease in it leads to happiness and peace. Fulfilling your desires at the cost of others leads to torment and a lack of happiness. Catherine s selfishness leads to her torment and that lack of happiness. Catherine s selfish character is depicted when she desires both Edgar and Heathcliff at the same time.
She wants Edgar for his life and Heathcliff for his soul. Catherine s seeming altruistic motives do not lead to the happiness she seeks. Instead, she tortures herself bythe results of her own actions. Catherine s devotion to her husband clashes with her love for Heathcliff. Catherine s nature rests in Heathcliff, while her superficial love rests in Edgar.
Her devotion to Edgar comes from the status she acquires in marrying him. Sheclaims that she married Edgar to help her true love, Heathcliff... despite her noble assertions to the contrary, she is a creature of this world after all. She will marry Edgar because he is rich and handsome... not because she loves him. (Shapiro 153).
Though sheclaims to love Heathcliff, actions speak louder than words and her marriage to Edgar hurts Heathcliff and disturbs the two houses dramatically. Catherine does the most selfish thing a lover can do by marrying another person other than her true love for mere individual stability... by marrying Edgar, Catherine betrays herself as well as Heathcliff, creating an emotional unrest which prevents her from finding contentment... (Cerrito 107). In marrying Edgar, Catherine kids herself in thinking she can be happy.
Likewise, she continues seeing Heathcliff, thinking she can control her happiness. Her retaining contact with Heathcliff hurts Edgar since he views Catherine s love for Heathcliff as betraying his love for Catherine. Because selfishness has consumed her soul, Catherine reacts to Edgar s understandable jealousy by attempting to afflict pain on him. She will hurt herself as much as possible, so that she can hurt Edgar. Catherine locks herself in her room, and starves, knowing that Edgar s love for her will lead him to return to her despite her actions towards Heathcliff. In her solitude, Catherine truly falls ill and she torments herself by the realization of the lack of happiness she seeks.
She feels extremely distressed as a result of the realization that she has made the wrong decision. Catherine desires to remain in preferable position with her marriage to Edgar, yet she longs for Heathcliff and attempts to keep both men in her life. She does not want to choose between the two, and therefore never does. Thus she causes pain and hurts both men.
She disregards the feelings of Edgar and keeps in contact with the hated lover. Selfishness eventually deteriorates Cathy, and she falls terminally ill. In her last days, Cathy realizes her as she views and longs for herold home. Her desires rest in her past savageness and her need to return to her former state with Heathcliff. Because she has decided to marry Edgar for social status, she cannot return to the love she had for Heathcliff... Cathy s selfishness and her attempt to compromise with society s dictates keep her from fulfilling her love for Heathcliff.
(Shapiro 153) Both men, Heathcliff and Edgar, disturb her death as they devote themselves to her. Her lovers devotion conflict as both men detest each other. Catherine married Edgar in the selfish hopes of a better life, but in doing so Catherine tortures herself by her selfish need to keep both Edgar and Heathcliff in her life, knowing they both despise each other. Beneath Catherine s love for Heathcliff lies a genuine conflict, a clash of different levels of passion which ends by consuming her. (Traversi 131) Her selfish decision ultimately leads to her death. Catherine disregards Heathcliff s love and makes a decision to fulfill her superficial needs.
In turn, her lack of love for Edgar causes Catherine to satisfy her need to see Heathcliff even after she is married. She again disregards another feelings, Edgar s, to satisfy her desires. The selfishness that rules Catherine s life, torments her as she cannot balance both of her devoted lovers and as she suffers a haunting death. Though a person gains profit from fulfilling his desires, fulfilling your will at the cost of others leads to torment. Heathcliff was probably the most selfish person in all of Wuthering Heights. He ruins Catherine s life when he disappeared for three years.
He also ruins Isabella s life by marrying her only for revenge. Heathcliff forces young Cathy to marry Linton and then later kills the poor suckling boy through neglect. These are only the major consequences of Heathcliff s selfishness. Heathcliff s seeking revenge in a selfish manner leads to the misery of his own soul. Heathcliff s constant abuse as a child and his lost love for Catherine leads him to develop into a monstrous being. Heathcliff comes intothe Earnshaw family, and resented for being uncivilized.
Earnshaw s son abuses Heathcliff, and Heatchfill again gets hurt by Catherine as she disregards his love and marries Linton. In retaliation to the abuse he has endured, Heathcliff seeks revenge in use to free his soul of the ill-treatment he has experienced. Heathcliff proclaims he does not feel pain when thinking of the revenge he can take. Thus, he believes he can find happiness in hisrevenge. However, the exact opposite occurs.
While he seeks fulfillment through torture of others, Heathcliff s satisfaction is not fulfilled. Heathcliff shows that revenge has not released him stating that he yet burns in hell despite his actions. I have no pity! I know no pity! The worms writhe; the more I yearn to crush out their entrails! It is a moral teething, and I grind with greater energy, in proportion to the increase of pain. (Bronte 152) In that proclamation Heathcliff affirms that he cannot achieve freedom by the crushing of his enemies, but that his pain increases as his selfish actions prevail. There is no use in either destroying or not destroying.
Within that situation Heathcliff remains poised, destroying himself in the tension of it, so that breathing or doing any slightest act is for him like bending back a stiff spring (Miller 188) Heathcliff destroys himself by using revenge and by attempting to destroy others. He realizes that his revenge has caused nothing but pain and that it has no victory as he observes Cathy and Hareton careless foreach other. Heathcliff, watching the love of Cathy and Hareton grow, comes to understand something of the failure of his own revenge. (Kettle 122) As he watches the two he realizes that his revenge is of poor conclusion and that it has not cleared his pain. He no longer finds interests in his life, and finds that his revenge has not fulfilled him. Hisrevenge has not accomplished the satisfaction he desired, instead he feels destroyed and distraught by the results of his selfish conduct.
The selfishness a person possesses has direct affects on his contentment. while fulfilling desires at the cost of others leads to torment, overcoming selfishness leads to true happiness. Cathy, one of the few unselfish characters in the novel, overcomes her family selfishness, and by doing so she becomes receptive to other s needs and creates love. She simply overcomes her family s selfishness because she has not inherited it. Though Cathy reflects her mother, she does not posses the selfish characteristic Catherine held. She parallels her mother in her sunshine and in her imperviousness.
But she differs from herm other as her relationship to Linton [and others] indicates, she is open to others, receptive to their needs... (Shapiro 154) Her mother s selfishness causes the chaos in WutheringHeights and the Grange; In contrast, Cathy s lack of it stops this turmoil. Catherine cared for Edgar because of his money, but Cathy responds to Linton not because of his money, or status, but because of his trouble... unlike her mother, she is not simply interested in self-fulfillment, she wants to help someone else...
(Shapiro 154) Cathy s lack of selfishness brings the spirit of love can be symbolized by the garden. The old order of revenge, symbolized by Joseph s dark plants, is uprooted by the flowers of Cathy andHareton, symbolizing the new spirit of love. Also a happy life results for Cathy andHareton because of her unselfishness in helping Hareton learn and become educated. Cathy reveals that a new way of life is possible and that being selfish and acquiring your desires at the expense of others is not the true route to happiness. Heathcliff first believes that if he can somehow avenge the abuse he has endured he will attain fulfillment. However, the exact opposite occurs.
When Heathcliff gives up his selfish plan for revenge, he attains happiness, and changes from a monstrous being to a character of contentment. Cathy s observations prove his change: ... he looked even so different from his usual look that I stopped a moment to stare at him... How he [Hareton] inquired. Why, almost bright and cheerful- no, almost nothing, very much exited, and wild and glad! (Bronte 326) Nelly describes the strange change as a... strange joyful glitter in his eyes...
, one that proves Heathcliff has been released from his previous torment. A torment which arose from his selfishness, and released from his releasing his revenge. Heatchilff releases his selfishness after Catherine s death. Her death brings pain that Heatchliff cannot release with revenge. He does not find content with revenge and thus releases his plan. With this release Heathcliff has gone from the threshold of hell to the sight of his heaven.
The sight Heathcliff and Catherine walking together after death proves that they have been reunited in eternal bliss. Heathcliff re achieves human dignity as he gives up revenge and by being buried in the churchyard. A sense of peace is brought from is death. It is this re-achievement of manhood by Heathcliff, an understanding reached with no help from the world he despises, which together with the developing relationship of Cathy and Hareton and the financial sense of life reborn in spring time, gives positive and unsentimental hope. (Kettle 122).
The disintegration of selfishness gives the lives of Wuthering Heights happiness that was not present when selfishness was prevalent. Selfishness directly affects happiness. Fulfilling your desires at the cost of others leads to torment, while overcoming selfishness leads to true happiness. Selfishness is on eof the many emotions which ruled over Wuthering Heights. For that reason WutheringHeights can be classified as a romantic novel. Today technology rules our world and romanticism no longer prevails.
Technology gives the world privileges that have become necessities to people. Nature and romantic elements have been minimized by money, power, and technology. Love has been replaced by the need for economic stability and external appearance. Has the world succeeded with technology or do we need to return to a philosophical age of romanticism where nature and emotions rule Romanticism places higher emphasis on emotions than rationality.
In contrast, our world is ruled by rationale. Without it the concept of the noble savage would rule. the noble savage is man going back to nature, and valuing himself more than society as a whole. The world could not survive if people became purely romantic and if they became savages. Individual needs would make people selfish and society would not survive such a world. Returning to savage world would be extreme romanticism, but a balance between today s world and the romantic era can prove beneficial.
Letting your emotions rule can help you reach serenity in your marriages by making the love that is present more important than superficial factors such as money and stability. Nature s heeling power and soothing effect, can relax people from their every day stress and computerized world. Romanticism can be affecting and benefiting in our world if we accept some aspects of it and minimize others. Unlike Heathcliff emotions need not rule your actions, but like Cathy you can use certain aspects of them to attain love and happiness. A balance between romanticism and the modern world, will bring greater emotional stability and happiness to our world.
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