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Conflict in Wuthering Heights and La Belle Dame Sans Merci

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 03:02 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 57.8 
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The conflicting theme demonstrated throughout Wuthering Heights is remarkably similar to the theme implicit in “La Belle Dame sans Merci”. This conflict is in the form of appearances, Illusion vs. Reality and man vs. nature and is personified through the characters, as well as the similarity of Gothic surroundings in both texts. In Wuthering Heights this parallel is shown through Heathcliff, who is vulnerable after falling head over heel for Catherine. Similarly in “La Belle Dame sans Merci” the Knight is in exactly the same position, as Heathcliff, as he’s entranced by the beauty that is La Belle.  

Both La Belle and Catherine have an illusional, captivating appearance that charms Heathcliff and the Knight, yet reality strikes when their true personalities are shown through their wild, dangerous nature that’s personified by gothic surroundings. La Belle is described as,

“Full beautiful—a fairy’s child, her hair was long, her foot was light, and her eyes were wild.” (14, 15, 16)

This description creates a conflicting idea of her, on one hand there is this fascinating, beautiful and innocent woman, yet on the other hand there is this figure with gothic qualities and frightening “wild” eyes referring to nature. This is comparable to Catherine,

“A wild, wick slip she was—but she had the bonniest eye, the sweetest smile, and the lightest foot in the parish.” (Chapter V, page42)

Catherine’s depiction is of a wild, untamed creature yet at the same time a beautiful, sweet and childlike girl.

The use of ‘wild’ in both Catherine and La Belle’s descriptions shows their similarity in nature. The similarities of their descriptions of a charming, appealing appearances compared with their saucy, wild natures demonstrate the comparison of conflict within these texts.  

After meeting with the knight, La Belle allows him to temporarily make her his object of affection. Quite coyly, she returns this affection with...


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