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Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte - Barron's Booknotes
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Edgar's refusal to communicate with Isabella seems cruel. He
may have always seemed to lack passion, but does he lack
warmth as well?

It's Ellen-the "bridge"- who goes over to Wuthering Heights,
for the first time since Cathy's marriage. In her letter Isabella
describes in detail the shambles the place has become. As an
outsider, she can also see that Isabella, through neglect, looks a
wreck. The only thing about the house that seems decent to her
is Heathcliff.

The scene that follows offers you new definitions of love. At
the same time it makes Heathcliff look sadistic.

When Heathcliff tells Ellen to arrange a meeting between him
and Cathy or he will break into Thrushcross Grange, he draws
distinctions between his love and Edgar's that remind you of
the contrast in Cathy's feelings:

If he loved with all the powers of his puny being, he
couldn't love as much in eighty years as I could in a
day. And Catherine has a heart as deep as I have; the
sea could be as readily contained in that horse trough,
as her whole affection monopolized by him.

This is one characterization of the difference between the
stormy and calm types of love. Now add a third type, which is
actually a mixture of the two: Isabella's infatuation with
Heathcliff. Her willingness to put up with any brutality, such as
watching him hang her dog, suggests that Isabella's love was as
overwhelming and as all-forgiving as the love between Cathy
and Heathcliff. Her love, however, was based on even less
understanding than that between Cathy and Edgar. According
to Heathcliff, Isabella saw him as a storybook hero.

In contrast to Heathcliff's avowal of love for Cathy is his
unspeakably cruel treatment of Isabella. Not only does he
speak to her abusively, but, as he tells Ellen, he "experiments"
with what she will endure. The fact that he can still feel shame
for his behavior suggests that he has not yet sold his soul
completely to the devil, but his shame doesn't make his
behavior any more pardonable.

When Heathcliff sends Isabella off, he tells Ellen he has no
pity. Then he goes on again about the differences between his
love for Cathy, and Edgar's. What kind of demented love, you
wonder, is this?

In Chapter 10 you were given one possible reason for
Heathcliff's marriage to Isabella: he wants her property.
Isabella gives you another reason: he wants to drive Edgar to
some desperate act. Whatever his motivation, the loveless
marriage seems to be Heathcliff's specialty. Later he will force
one on Cathy's daughter and Linton. Is it possible that because
of his own childhood he wants to prove that marriage
(especially Edgar and Cathy's) has nothing to do with love (his
own and Cathy's)?

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Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte - Barron's Booknotes

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