The word obsession is defined in the dictionary as: “a compulsive, often unreasonable idea or emotion. ” The novel Wuthering Heights, is a story about love turned obsession. An obsession that leads the characters to be impulsive, vindictive, jealous and stupid. These obsessions run and ruin the lives of all the characters in Wuthering Heights. Their extreme passions have direct effects on the lives of others, and carry over into other generations. First of all, there is Heathcliff, a pitiful man driven by his obsession for Catherine and revenge.
We at first sympathize with him, when we see Hindley mistreating him and his undying love for Catherine and when she turns him down for Edgar we see a huge transformation in our dear Heathcliff. We see his plan of vengeance begin to unfold and your feeling soon change. He leaves Wuthering Heights for years, deserting his love, and is determined to be successful and powerful in hopes to re suitable for Catherine and impress the others. He comes back after three years, during which time nobody at Wuthering Heights or The Grange have known his whereabouts, and the first person he is eager to meet is Catherine.
He’s now a changed person driven by his obsession to be someone else. He tells Catherine: “I heard of your marriage, Cathy, not long since; and, while waiting in the yard below, I meditated this plan: just to have one glimpse of your face, a stare of surprise, perhaps, and pretended pleasure; afterwards settle my score with Hindley; and then prevent the law by doing execution on myself. Your welcome has put these ideas out of my mind; but beware of meeting me with another aspect next time. ” Being upset with the news of Catherine’s marriage to Edgar he tries to hurt them both by marrying Edgar’s sister, Isabella.
Even though he doesn’t love or even like her, instead in this one sided love affair Heathcliff takes advantage of the innocent girls feelings to carry out his obsession for revenge. He ends up ruining her life and inheriting her fortune. In marrying her he accomplished to parts of his plan, revenge and power. I also don’t see how he can even say he loves Catherine in the first place, because how can true love exist at all when it’s so intertwined with jealousy, hatred, and anger? Was he just being selfish or blinded by his obsession to have her?
The passing of time doesn’t seem to dim his love or obsession for Catherine, even after she dies he begs her ghost to haunt him, “Be with me always – take any form – drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul! ” (186). Most rational people who have loved someone who just died, wish that their souls rest in peace. He even arranges for their coffins to be open and facing each other. Now is this rational? No.
Nobody can think rationally when being ruled by an obsession as strong as this. Heathcliff had been miss treated by his foster brother Hindley, and is now obsessed by his thoughts of revenge: “Im trying to settle how I shall pay Hindley back. I dont care how long I wait, if I can only do it at last. I hope he will not die before I do! ” (136). He is able to turn the tables on Hindley and makes him his slave. When Hindley is drunk he gambles his property to Heathcliff leaving him broke and Heathcliff holding all the cards.
He even tries steeling away Hindley’s son, who he later ends up raising. He again tries to get back at Edgar Linton, by not only marrying his sister but taking away his daughter and forcing her to marry his son. As the book goes on he becomes more and more dark and evil and his obsession for revenge ruins the lives he touches, and his acts even effect the younger generation of Wuthering Heights. Catherine also has the same obsession of love for Heathcliff. “My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary.
Nelly, I am Heathcliff” (122)” Catherine has just told her housekeeper that she has made up her mind to marry Edgar Linton, although she is well aware that her love for him is bound to change as time passes, and that she hopes to learn to love him. She still is obsessed by her love for Heathcliff and she confirms it in the above quotation, and by saying that she will never ever be separated from him. Why does she not marry him then? Well, she has another obsession too, she does not want to degrade herself by marrying him. Instead she thinks that by marrying Linton she can help Heathcliff can rise socially.
So she goes ahead and excepts Edgar’s proposal. This quick decision is baffling, impulsive and not well thought out at all. She makes a rash decision that ends up not only changing her life but Edgar and Heathcliff’s. She meanly ditches Heathcliff and sets up Edgar for Heathcliff’s revenge. She also never lets Heathcliff go and continues to love him while being married to Edgar. later she says, “Well, if I cannot keep Heathcliff for my friend – if Edgar will be mean and jealous, Ill try to break their hearts by breaking my own” (150).
Her love for Heathcliff seems to be a stronger obsession than ever considering the torments she goes through, she even makes her self become seriously ill. The last time Catherine and Heathcliff see each other is a very emotional and conflicting meeting. Their love for each other is as strong as ever, and Heathcliff accuses Catherine of having done him wrong by marrying Edgar, but she returns his accusation by saying: “You loved me – then what right had you to leave me? ” (185). Even at her death bed they are both obsessed with self-reproaches and mutual accusations.
Their entire relationship never made any sense, instead it was just based on an obsession, and bad communication on both of their parts. Her desions based on her obsession effect her husband, child and lover Heathcliff, leaving them angry and alone. Also Edgar Linton, who owns the elegant Thrushcross Grange is a nice man who is obsessed with being respectable and is often seen as a snob. He looks down upon the wild Heathcliff and treats him like he is a peasant “the whole household need not witness the sight of you welcoming a runaway servant as a brother (135).
He and everyone else picks up on the fact that his wife and Heathcliff have feeling for each other and becomes racked with jealousy. Yet this man is to weak and refine to tell Catherine that he truly loves her and that she should be faithful to him. We can see he does love her, but he has problems expressing his feelings. Which later leads to Catherines death and her indecision between the two men. Despite is snobbery and the fact that he came between Heathcliff and Catherines love, we also cant help but feel bad for him.
After all he unfairly has to suffer Heathcliffs revenge and has a wife who is in love with another man. The second generation in Wuthering Heights pale in comparison to their parents yet are still paying for their mistakes led by their passions. They also have little obsessions of their own. From the beginning, we see the Lintons having a higher social status than the residents at Wuthering Heights. This is due to the fact that the Lintons are more educated than the laborers at the Heights. Young Cathy’s love for reading has a direct effect on Hareton Earnshaw’s pursuits at becoming literate.
Hareton, being an outcast like Heathcliff was, tries his best to learn to read, in an attempt to win Catherine Linton’s affections. Also with the help of Cathy he struggles to get back his inheritance, luckily a struggle which the exhausted Heathcliff no longer has the strength to oppose. On the day Hareton reads aloud his name, carved over the entrance of Wuthering Heights, we know that he will soon reclaim his legacy. Cathy seems obsessed with curiosity for Wuthering Heights and is constantly drawn there, and when she is fooled to believe Linton, has feeling for her, she writes him letters of love and flees to be with him.
Then she finds herself trapped their because of her poorly made decision that went against her fathers advice. Linton Heathcliff is a nervous, sickly, effeminate child, weak-willed and tool of his fathers revenge. He is obsessed with pleasing his father, he even marries a woman he does not like. They all fell victim to Heathcliffs obsession that has carried over into the new generation, and of their own. Then there is Lockwood, the new tenant of Thruchcross Grange, who we hardly see except in the beginning. Where he continues to go back to Wuthering Heights where hes clearly not welcome.
He also is obsessed with knowing what has happened to its inhabitants that he reads Catherines journals and is tormented by dreams of her. He also forces Nelly the housekeeper to tell him all about him, despite the hours that have passed. His loneliness leads him to pursue this obsession. In conclusion, in this novel love and obsession are interconnected. The love between Catherine and Heathcliff runs all through the story, and that love is the reason for Heathcliffs obsession to have his revenge. Their obsession for each other leads into anger, jealousy, and impulsive decisions that effect everyone around them.