Martha Nussbaum describes the romantic ascent of various characters in Wuthering Heights through a philosophical Christian view. She begins by describing Catherine as a lost soul searching for heaven, while in reality she longs for the love of Heathcliff. Nussbaum continues by comparing Heathcliff as the opposition of the ascent from which the Linton's hold sacred within their Christian beliefs. Nussbaum makes use of the notion that the Christian belief in Wuthering Heights is both degenerate and way to exclude social classes. To begin Catherine attempts to find heaven as way to soothe her emotion, but discovers her heart belongs to something else.
That something else is Heathcliff, who also finds life on earth a tortuous and difficult existence, which fuels his anger toward everything he meets. They both recognize that the Christian ascent will not bring them redemption from their lives, so only in the world they now live will comfort be found. However the paradox continues because their love cannot ascend to its ultimate form, as each will refuse their love by the social desires of the time. Nussbaum also establishes a conflict between the fundamental Christian world of the Lintons, and the chaotic world of Heathcliff. The distinction is clearly drawn as a virtuous and companionate world in which the Linton's live, while Heathcliff is drawn to immoral and devious actions. The author does not however see it this simple.
The superficial piteous world is in fact shadowed by a shallow a fake ideal of life. Even Catherine realizes the forged environment in which the Linton's live, as she explains, "in whichever place the soul lives. In my soul and in my heart, I'm convinced I'm wrong". Even though Heathcliff is portrayed as a demonic figure, he also is shown as the romantic Christina lover. This love is the driving force behind his urge to fight against what is expected of him. Both the Linton's and Heathcliff are not given the satisfaction of becoming the portrait for the ideal Christian.
The novel also goes on to comment on Christianity as both imperfect and dubious school of thought. In the first instance the most pious characters including the Lintons, Ellen Dean, and Joseph all behave in direct contradiction of their belief. They act selfishly and look no further than for their own superficial world. Bronte at least gives Heathcliff a justified method to his madness, through his unconditional and suppressed love for Catherine. These alleged Christian devotees also sustain the divisional classes of the time. For instance Catherine can never view Heathcliff in her same light, as do all the others who judge him by his dark skin.
The novel also goes on to support the notion to cling what is secure, while not risking what one truly feels. Catherine and Heathcliff are inevitable trapped in this philosophy and will seek endlessly to breach this conception.