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Coping with Death in Wuthering Heights

  • Date Submitted: 11/03/2011 04:10 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 60.3 
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Coping with Death
Emily Brontë includes many contrasting elements in her novel, Wuthering Heights. One of these contrasts deals with Hindley’s loss of Frances, and Edgar’s loss of Catherine. The two men react to these deaths in different ways, and this polarity also represents an important aspect of the novel, a contrast of life and death.
When Hindley loses his wife, Frances, he resorts to alcoholism and secluding himself from everyone he had ever cared about. He starts wasting his life away, placing his love and care into drinking instead of the people around him, and himself. For his sister’s funeral, “he kept himself sober…tolerably sober…Consequently, he rose, in suicidal low spirits…and instead, he sat down by the fire and swallowed gin or brandy by tumblerfuls” (158). He is not even able to stay sober to attend this tragic event. Catherine had been the only link to family Hindley had left. Though Hindley feels terrible about her death, he cannot even bring himself up to say goodbye to Catherine. The cause of this change in personality was the death of Hindley’s wife, Frances. Although his relationship with Frances was not a major focus of the novel, it was a significant one as it helped to characterize Hindley. “[Hindley] had room in his heart only for two idols—his wife and himself: he doted on both, and adored one…” (57-58). It is quite obvious throughout the novel that Hindley is remarkably fond of Frances. After Frances dies, Hindley’s character transitions from envious to dangerous and violent. On the other hand, when Edgar loses Catherine, he does not opt for alcohol. He closes himself off from everyone around him, and “kept his room” (155) since Edgar was also extremely fond of Catherine, despite her wild temper. Edgar’s relationship with Catherine contributes to the main conflict of the story, as it is what keeps Heathcliff and Catherine’s love from being fully carried through. This constant depression resulting from Catherine’s death causes...

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