Discuss Polar Opposites in Wuthering Heights One of the most obvious points of contrast in Wuthering Heights is that of love and hate, passion and conflict. Wuthering Heights is best known for being the "greatest of love stories." Catherine and Heathcliff have a plutonic love for each other, which is the main focus of the novel. Hindley was insanely jealous of Heathcliff's relationship with his father when they were children and therefore inflicts his revenge upon him when his father dies. Heathcliff is spurned by Catherine and goes through his life corrupted with hatred for everyone. His love for Cathy however transcends ever death itself. The theme of the supernatural is laced through the novel giving the impression that there is more to these characters and houses than meets the eye.
This fact contrasts with the everyday occurrences of the households, such as Nelly or Zilla h carrying out menial tasks, to make the novel remain enthralling. The "dream" sequence, in which Lockwood, "pulled its wrist on to the broken pane, and rubbed it to and fro, till the blood ran down and soaked the bedclothes," makes us believe that what he saw was in fact a dream. There was no blood on the bedclothes when he awoke. However Heathcliff's reaction to Lockwood's dream makes us think differently. He seems to believe that Cathy really was at the window, he even opens it in order to let her in. The theme of eyes and windows is an important part of the overall theme of the supernatural as they represent boundaries.
The window obviously represents the boundaries to the interior of the house and the eyes are the windows to the soul. The eyes indicate emotion s and personality Nelly recognised Heathcliff after he went away to become a gentleman, only by the fact, that, "the eyes (were) deep set and singular. I remembered the eyes." In fact every polar opposite is separated by a boundary. Heathcliff and Cathy admire the Lintons in Thrushcross Grange, the world of luxury and elegance, through a window. Cathy escapes from Heathcliff by climbing through a window. A main feature of Cathy's room is the fact that it is a room within a room and therefore had more boundaries than any other room in the novel.
The "closet" structure was very much like a coffin, and this it became upon the death of Heathcliff. The window in Catherine's room is the separation between the living and the dead. Catherine throws open this window, just before she dies; Lockwood sees the Catherine's ghost scratching at this window; Heathcliff dies in the oak panelled bed with the window open next to him. The boundary of life and death is also crossed in the graveyard, when Heathcliff disturbs Catherine's grave and encounters her spirit.
Throughout the novel these boundaries are both defended and breached. Lockwood stops Cathy's ghost from entering the room in his dream; Catherine and Heathcliff are banned from Thrushcross Grange. Every character tries to gain control by either locking other in or out almost every chapter features some form of imprisonment or exclusion. Heathcliff imprisons Cathy to punish her for Running from the Grange. Catherine locks Edgar and Heathcliff in the same room to make them discuss their disagreement.
Heathcliff is imprisoned by his own need for revenge. In the case of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange it is the moors and the wall which surrounds Thrushcross Grange. Heathcliff emotionally traps Cathy and Hareton. Lockwood is unable to leave due to his illness and poor weather. Freedom returns only upon the death of Heathcliff. The contrast between nature and culture is heavily defined.
Nature is represented by the Earnshaw family, Catherine and Heathcliff in particular. Emotions and passion, rather than reason, reflection or civility rule these characters. The Lintons and the Earnshaws are polar opposites in both appearance and character, Cathy recognises this, " Your cold blood cannot be worked into a fever - your veins are full of ice water - but mine are boiling." The Earnshaw's are a dark haired family with dark eyes and the Linton's are fair-haired and fair skinned with blue eyes. "A pale, delicate, effeminate boy... ." The Lintons are portrayed as the weaker family, Linton representing this fact is the weakest, most frail character of all and dies young.
Hareton however is more like Heathcliff as he was raised by him, he is therefore strong and wild, "a ruffianly child, strong in limb and dirty in garb... ." Wuthering Heights is the house in which the majority of the action takes place. It is dark, foreboding and gothic, " the narrow windows are deeply set into the wall, and the corners defended with large jutting stones. There is a very un-welcoming and un-cared for feeling about the place. The house is very exposed, "on that bleak hilltop" to the extent that the fir trees have an "excessive slant." Throughout the novel weather is an indicator of strong emotion and turmoil. The fact that Wuthering Heights is exposed to the wild and harsh winds coming from the moors gives an inclination of the type of people who reside within.
"Sky and hills mingled in one bitter whirl of wind and suffocating snow." The emotions and lives of the characters contrast starkly with the wild setting of the Yorkshire moors. The moors represent untamed beauty and the harsh reality of nature. The bleak openness of the moors is the exact opposite of the closed worlds of the characters of Thrushcross Grange who are forced to conform with the demands of society The language used to describe the house is grotesque and wild. "A range of gaunt thorns all stretched their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun." Bronte aims to show that the exterior of the house is like a reflection of the people inside.
Physiognomy was a recognised science in the Victorian times and it was widely held, that good looking people were always honest and pure hearted, and that mean looking people were intrinsically evil or corrupted in some way. In contrast, Thrushcross Grange is the total opposite, " it was beautiful - a splendid place." It is not exposed to the weather as it is in the park away from the moor and enclosed by walls. When Lockwood visits he is treated to, " a cheerful fire and smoking coffee" by the kindly staff. Thrushcross Grange is pure and bright, "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." Thrushcross grange has far more ornamental objects and the characters living there live easy, luxurious lives. Even the dogs of the two houses are completely different, at Thrushcross grange the dog was fussed over and kept as a pet. The dogs of Wuthering heights were used as guard dogs and were kept purely for their function, they were nurtured to be brutal and violent.
"She's not accustomed to be spoiled - not kept for a pet." Thrushcross Grange is the house of civility. When Cathy spends just five weeks there, there is a marked different in her behaviour on her return, " her manners were much improved... a very dignified person" in comparison to her former days as a "wild hatless little savage" A more subtle contrasting aspect of the book is the use of language. Bronte uses dialect to reinforce the fact that the novel is set in the heart of the Yorkshire moors.
The language she uses for characters like Joseph and Hareton is colloquial, informal and direct. However the novel is rich in vivid and poetic language in both the descriptions and the dialogue. In this way the division between classes is portrayed more clearly. Lockwood's style of speech is much more pleonastic than that of Nelly's.
Wuthering Heights in fact consists almost wholly of opposites and extremes. Each character and aspect of the novel appears to have an antithesis. In some cases this can work to the benefit of the characters, such as the differences between the Earnshaws and the Lintons. The contrast work to build up the tension of the plot, to make Wuthering Heights seem more intimidating and hostile, the warm and luxurious setting of Thrushcross grange works as a contrast. If there were no good in the novel then the evil and violence would not seem as shocking and horrific. Brutal characters such as Heathcliff need weaker ones such as Linton and Isabella to interact with, to make him seem more evil..