The theme of destructive love in the Wuthering Heights Tale

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Thetheme of destructive love in the Wuthering Heights Tale

WutheringHeights is a traditional tale that clearly illustrates the issuesthat surround love and how destructive it can be when it is notgenuine. In many of the traditional societies, people were expectedto interact and most importantly, marry from their social class(Dzitko28). Therefore, social segregation was deep rooted in the societywith the poor serving at the mercies of the rich. Many rich young menand women married for the wrong reasons and later in life facedchallenging situations in their marriages. One of the biggest factorsthat contributed to destructive live in the traditional society issocial class and status (Dzitko32). The paper aims to review the theme of destructive in WutheringHeights and establish how it affected relationships, marriages andsocial interactions within the ancient society.

Therelationship between Catherine and Heathcliff seems to the centre ofaction in Wuthering Heights. This particular relationship is thestrongest and more lasting than all other emotions presented in thenovel and a source of almost all the conflicts that are the buildingblocks of the story (Bronte, 81). Nelly criticizes both Catherine andHeathcliff harshly, pointing out that they are immoral. However, thepassion between these two characters is a significant element of thisbook. It is not clear whether the author of the book, Bronte wantsthe readers to criticize the lovers in her book or to praise themfrom their heroic romance that surpasses all social norms andpractices. Actually, the book revolves around two parallel lovestories. One story is about the love between Catherine and Heathcliffand the other between the same Catherine and Hareton. The two lovestories end differently and this helps the reader understand theimpact of social class on love and relationships.

Catherinelove for Heathcliff is destructive because it breaks his heart. Whileexplaining why she cannot marry Heathcliff, Catherine tells Ellen“…………It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now, so heshall never know how I love him….. (Bronte, 86)” Due to thedifference in social class, Catherine cannot degrade herself to marryHeathcliff and this makes her love destructive. Upon learning thepainful truth, Heathcliff leaves Wuthering height with a heavy heartand does not return for the next three years. The love betweenCatherine and Heathcliff is rooted in their childhood and istherefore genuine. It is clear that it is Catherine’s desire tolove Heathcliff. However, if she succumbs to her desires, and marriesHeathcliff, it will destroy her social status.

Itis almost unbelievable that Catherine chose Edgar over Healthcliffeven though she doesn’t love the former (Bronte, 72). She explainsto Nelly that she loves Edgar because he “…..Handsome, young andcheerful….and because he loves me (Bronte 73). One of the primaryreason as to why Catherine marries Edgar is manipulate him and helpthe lover of his life Heathcliff rise up economically and socially.She admits to Nelly in one occasion “…..if I married Heathcliff,we should be beggars, if I marry Linton, I can help Heathcliff riseand displace him out of my brother’s power (87).” Catherinepassion for Linton is not genuine but only set to destroy him as shetries to assist the love of her life gain power and economicstability. Catherine chooses to marry Edgar for the wrong reasons andhence refuses neither to give up Heathcliff as a lover nor embraceEdgar as her husband.

Catherineand Heathcliff’s love is based on their belief that they are oneperson. She compares her love for Edgar and Healthcliff and admits toNelly “My love for Edgar is like the woods, time will changeit………Nelly, I am Heathcliff, he is always in my mind, not as apleasure…..but as my own being, (Bronte, 82).” When Catherine wasabout to die, Heathcliff asks her so many questions “why did youdespise me? Why did you betray your own heart?” Upon Catherine’sdeath, he wails and laments that he cannot leave without his soul,referring to Catherine (Bronte, 138). The love between Catherine andHeathcliff rejects the social classes. The two are adulterers and yetdo not kiss in dark corners or arrange their meeting in secrets.Before Catherine dies, Heathcliff tells her “kiss me again…..Ilove my murderer, but yours, how can I? (Bronte, 139).Catherine lovefor Heathcliff has completely destroyed his heart and his mission isto avenge for the death of his lover and all who have made his lifedifficult. The book criticizes destructive love that rejects changeover time and ends badly such as that of Catherine and Heathcliff.Wuthering Heights wants to show the extent to which love can bedestructive to both social norms and ethics especially among theyoung generation.


Itcan be concluded that the novel Wuthering Heights as discussed thetheme of destructive love extensively and thoroughly. Basing thestory on two major love stories, Bronte has clearly shown how lovecan be destructive over time. Catherine love for Heathcliff despitebeing true, completely destroyed his heart and changed his attitudetowards life and other people. Bronte has highly criticized her maincharacters’ behaviour and extreme romantics to teach her audiencethe importance of the process of change.


Bronte,Emily. Wutheringheights.Broadview Press, 2001.

Dzitko,Jon. &quotThe Analyst in the Inner City: Race, Class, and CultureThrough a Psychoanalytic Lens. And Psychoanalysis in an Age ofAccelerating Cultural Change. By Neil Altman.&quot PsychoanalyticDiscourse/Discours Psychanalytique (PSYAD)1.1 (2015).

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