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Love and Betrayal in Wuthering Heights
Transcript of Love and Betrayal in Wuthering Heights
Revenge is almost a greater driving force than love in Wuthering Heights. Revenge drives the lead characters (Hindley, Heathcliff, etc.) to act the way they do because it takes over their lives. Hindley devotes his life after his father’s death to seeking his revenge on Heathcliff, while Heathcliff dedicates his adult life to ruining Hindley in order to obtain his revenge.
Revenge and Betrayal in "Wuthering Heights"
BY: Joseph William Koester (Bill), Ashley Walther, Carson Kiely
"What is it to you?" he growled. "I have a right to kiss her, if she chooses, and you have no right to object. I am not your husband: you needn't be jealous of me!"
In this quote, Heathcliff has sought his revenge on Catherine, for snubbing him, and Edgar, for always dismissing him, by marrying Isabella. This act of revenge paves the way for future divisions between Heathcliff and the Lintons. It also further damages Catherine and Heatcliff as they adjust to life without each other. The deepening pain they experience adds intensity to their passionate fall out later in the book.
Quotes and Relevance
"So, from the beginning he bred bad feeling in the house... the young master had learned to regard his father as an opressor rather than a friend, and Heathcliff as a usurper of his parent's affections and his privileges; and he grew bitter with brooding over these injuries."
This quote is showing Hindley’s initial jealousy towards Heathcliff, leading to his revenge…
"You teach me now how cruel you've been – cruel and false. Why did you despise me? Why did you betray your own heart, Cathy? I have not one word of comfort. You deserve this. You have killed yourself. Yes, you may kiss me, and cry; and wring out my kisses and tears: they'll blight you – they'll damn you. You loved me – then what right had you to leave me? What right – answer me – for the poor fancy you felt for Linton? Because misery and degradation, and death, and nothing that God or Satan could inflict would have parted us, you, of your own will, did it. I have not broken your heart – you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine. So much the worse for me that I am strong. Do I want to live? What kind of living will it be when you – oh, God! would you like to live with your soul in the grave?"
Here Heathcliff feels that Catherine betrayed herself by not pursuing his love. Catherine did betray herself; her marriage to Edgar and loss of Heathcliff eventually ripped her apart.
... This quote shows how Hindley got his revenge on Heathcliff.
“He drove him from their company to the servants, deprived him of the instructions of the curate, and insisted that he should labour out of doors; compelling him to do so as hard as any other lad on the farm.”
"I'm trying to settle how I shall pay Hindley back. I don't care how long I wait, if I can only do it at last. I hope he will not die before I do!"
This quote is the final step in the vicious, revenge driven Hindley/Heathcliff conflict. Finally, Heathcliff gets his revenge on Hindley by gambling with him, eventually reaping in all of his money and the mortgage to Wuthering Heights. This continuous drive for revenge shapes the plot of Wuthering Heights greatly by defining Heathcliff as a surly Byronic hero and Hindley as the antagonist.
“I’ve no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in heaven; and if the wicked man in there had not brought Heathcliff so low, I shouldn’t have thought of it.”
In this quote Catherine betrays Heathcliff. She chooses to avoid his love because of his social status, even though they have loved each other since childhood. This sets off Heathcliff's departure, marriage, and subsequent tensions with the Lintons.
- In the beginning of their relationship, Scarlett is seemingly aloof and indifferent, evading Rhett’s advances. Eventually she begins to lead him on. This only leads to betrayal, because she marries other men and, similar to Catherine, claims she does not want to marry Rhett because of his social position and bad habits. Like Catherine Earnshaw’s justification of choosing Edgar, Scarlett convinces herself the man she wants is polished, clean, and honorable (Ashley Wilkes) as opposed to the swarthy and mysterious Rhett (the “Heathcliff” of GWTW). In both books, the passionate female main characters deny their Byronic heroes loves, betraying them until the end, when their true feelings pour out. But by that time, it is too late.
Wuthering Heights vs. Gone With the Wind
- Although set in vastly different time periods and countries, Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell has some striking parallels to Wuthering Heights. Both contain a deeply passionate love story between two equally passionate characters. Revenge and betrayal are driving forces in the plot of Gone With the Wind; they are almost synonymously woven into the plot. Scarlett and Rhett constantly connive to seek revenge on the other, usually in the form of betrayal.
Betrayal and Revenge in GWTW
Rhett, like Heathcliff, is a Byronic hero. Both are unruly, unorthodox, stormy, and passionate. Rhett seeks his revenge on Scarlett’s betrayals slyly. He remains a frequent customer at Belle Watling’s brothel, similar to Heathcliff’s marriage to Isabella, to avoid the feeling of betrayal and loss. He also does his best to remain seemingly aloof, similar to Heathcliff, but still always loving Scarlett. In the end of Catherine’s era and at the close of GWTW, the final tragedy of each novel occurs. Both are by-products of betrayal and revenge. Catherine’s death and admittance of love to Heathcliff are results of her betraying herself the love she truly desired for so long. Rhett’s final betrayal of leaving Scarlett “forever” after Melanie died also spurs from Scarlett’s repetitive self-betrayal. The way Catherine realizes that Heathcliff was the one all along, Scarlett has the same epiphany. But for both of them, it comes too late. If not for their constant denial and self betrayal, their ends might not have been so tragic.
Betrayal and Revenge in GWTW
Revenge frequently stems from jealousy in Wuthering Heights. Throughout childhood, Hindley was very cruel to Heathcliff because he was jealous. Heathcliff was always Mr. Earnshaw's favorite, which made Hindley envious. By degrading Heathcliff and reducing him to servitude for many years, Hindley seeks his revenge on Heathcliff. This conflict plays a major role in developing Heathcliff's character throughout the book. The unfair treatment he had to endure as a child forces him to dedicate all of his energy to seeking his revenge and ruining Hindley.
Revenge is also a result of cruel and frustrating love. Heathcliff seeks revenge on Catherine and Edgar when he hears of their marriage. At first he flees, hurt and angry, knowingly upsetting Catherine. He then marries Isabella with dark ulterior motives. By marrying Isabella, he knowingly infuriates and hurts Edgar and Catherine. Through passive-aggressive acts of treachery, Heathcliff wins his revenge over the two people who hurt his heart the most.
Quotes and Plot Relevance
Betrayal drives the book as well. Numerous characters betray each other throughout the story. The effects of their betrayals shape the story. Specifically, characters betray each others love/commitments and their family responsibilities. Hindley betrays Catherine, Catherine betrays Heathcliff, Heathcliff betrays Isabella, Isabella betrays Edgar, and Edgar is betrayed by his daughter Cathy.
Catherine not only betrayed Heathcliff by marrying Edgar, but betrayed herself. By marrying Edgar, Catherine avoided Heathcliff's love for her and essentially shunned him because of his social class. She betrayed herself by ignoring her love for Heathcliff and denying herself happiness. This eventually eats her alive. Heathcliff also doles out some romantic betrayal to Isabella. He proves to be an abusive, mean, and cruel husband, not exactly what she signed up for.
Hindley, Isabella, and Cathy betray their families in Wuthering Heights. Hindley betrays his father, sister, and adopted brother firstly by abusing Heathcliff and secondly by descending into an alcoholic wretch that pisses away their money, house, and family name. He also proves to be a terrible brother: he does not attend Catherine's funeral. Isabella betrays Edgar and her family by running Heathcliff, whom they did not approve. Cathy betrays her father and Nelly by going against their wishes and visiting Wuthering Heights to see Linton. Her betrayal, however, leads to important plot changes such as her marriage to Linton and association with Hareton.
Betrayal: Catherine Earnshaw
Catherine betrays herself more than anyone by not marrying Heathcliff. She is denying herself love based completely on social structure. She represents betrayal both internally and externally by marrying Edgar. She knowingly breaks Heathcliff's and her own heart.
She betrays her own nature too. By denying passionate and free spirit, she chokes her personality and suffocates to death.