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Reece Jordan

Reece Jordan

Email: reecejordan98@hotmail.co.uk

Total Article : 219

About Me:18-year-old sixth form student, studying English Literature, History and Government and Politics. My articles will broadly cover topics from the current affairs of politics to reviews of books and albums, as well as adding my own creative pieces, whether it be short fiction or general opinion.

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Love and Identity in 'Wuthering Heights'

Love and Identity in 'Wuthering Heights'

On the subject of love in Wuthering Heights, F.H. Longman describes it as ‘so peculiar that it transcends, by definition, all possibility of intelligible discussion.’ This unintelligibility perhaps stems from what J.H. Miller terms the ‘over-richness’ of the text – that there is such a wealth of possible interpretation that we are left not making sense of it all. It is perhaps best to start, then, by focusing on Catherine’s original identity, and how this becomes suppressed by her assimilation into Thrushcross Grange and the Lintons. Nelly comments early on in the novel about young Catherine’s vitality. We are told that her ‘spirits were always high-water mark’ and that this energy manifested itself with an abundance of noise – ‘her tongue always going – singing, laughing and plaguing everybody who would not do the same.’ Catherine, thus, was the antithesis to the contemporary notion and expectation that children should be seen and not heard. Indeed, she revelled in rebellion: ‘she was never so happy as when we were all scolding her at once, and she defying us with her bold, saucy look.’ However, Nelly’s description has an underlying foreboding tone. That this rebellious joy was ‘plaguing everybody’ suggests that it has endemic ruinous qualities, something, which, like a plague, must be gotten rid of – or cleansed – for ‘healthy’ normal life to continue. It is no surprise, then, that the first thing that the genteel Linton family does when Catherine is ‘held’ at Thrushcross Grange is to wash her.

 

            This cleansing process of six weeks is the initial stage of Catherine’s identity being suppressed. In Nelly Dean’s words, it was a ‘plan of reform by trying to raise her self-respect with fine clothes’. Indeed, her ‘reform’ revolves around the image of her being decoratively dressed in ‘silk frock, white trousers, and burnished shoes’, and ‘while her eyes sparkled joyfully when the dogs came bounding up to see her, she dare hardly touch them lest they should fawn upon her splendid garments.’ Here it can be seen that whilst the Lintons might seem to have ‘cleansed’ Catherine (her emphasis on rejecting the impulse to touch the dogs is symbolic of her rejection of her ‘wild’ state before she went to Thrushcross Grange), they have only succeeded in psychologically splitting her. Though she may withhold from touching the dogs, her eyes still ‘sparkled joyfully’ at the sight of them – they have not deadened her wildness, only instilled in her a capacity for checking it, which, as will be shown below, has disastrous consequences.

 

Image Credits: amazon.com

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