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'Til Death Do Us Part: the Afterlife in Bronte's Wuthering Heights.

  • Date Submitted: 04/10/2012 08:53 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 61 
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Cheyenne Eng

Mrs. Byrnes

Advanced Literature, 3rd

March 31st, 2012

'Til Death Do Us Part': The Afterlife in Brontë's Wuthering Heights

In the classic novel Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë mainly focuses on possession and worldly renown. For example, Catherine Earnshaw, though madly in love with Heathcliff, chooses Edgar Linton for his social status. Cathy even confides in Nelly, saying that if it were not for his low social ranking, she would have preferred marriage to Heathcliff rather than Edgar. However, seeing as Heathcliff is a gypsy child and Edgar “will be rich, and [Catherine] shall like to be the greatest woman of the neighborhood,” Catherine's choice is made very clear (76). Catherine believes she and Heathcliff are one and the same; whereas, she and Edgar could not be more opposing than a “moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire” (79). Despite this emphasis on worldly goods and fame, a great deal of attention is paid to the afterlife. For instance, Catherine's ghost haunts the manor and torments Heathcliff. Take into account also the alleged accounts of townsfolk claiming to have witnessed Catherine's spirit roaming around. Heathcliff even shows sign of hope and faith that he and Cathy will be together in the afterlife as proven by the action of his requesting their coffins be conjoined after his expiration. If the focus is so heavily set on the possession of wealth and so-called class rank, then why does Brontë put so much emphasis on a possible afterlife? What does this signify about Brontë herself? What does it signify about Victorian beliefs?
Heathcliff is introduced into the Earnshaw household as an orphan gypsy child whom Mr. Earnshaw brings home. At first, Mr. Earnshaw is the only member to show Heathcliff any compassion whatsoever. However, as time progresses, Catherine begins to foster a respect and affection for Heathcliff and soon harbors a deep love for him. One day whilst spying on Cathy's cousins Edgar and Isabella...

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