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Wuthering Heights

by Emily Brontë
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How does Emily Bronte combine gothic and romantic elements in Wuthering Heights?

Emily Brontë combines gothic and romantic elements in Wuthering Heights by surrounding Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff’s everlasting love with cruelty, violence, and supernatural torment.

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The romantic elements in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights are reflected in Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff’s intense love. Although they don’t marry each other (Catherine marries Edgar, Heathcliff marries Isabella), it’s clear that they are soulmates. In chapter 9, Catherine measures her feelings for Edgar against her feelings for Heathcliff. When...

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The romantic elements in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights are reflected in Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff’s intense love. Although they don’t marry each other (Catherine marries Edgar, Heathcliff marries Isabella), it’s clear that they are soulmates. In chapter 9, Catherine measures her feelings for Edgar against her feelings for Heathcliff. When it comes to Edgar, Catherine’s love is mutable, like “foliage in the woods.” With Heathcliff, Catherine’s love “resembles the eternal rocks beneath.” Their love is steadfast and “necessary.” Her romantic feelings for Heathcliff are so strong that she tells Nelly, “I am Heathcliff!”

The feverish romance between Heathcliff and Catherine arguably forms the novel’s gothic elements. It’s possible to claim that Brontë doesn’t present Catherine and Heathcliff as normal people in love but as mythological beings who are eerily infatuated with one another. Heathcliff could be thought of as more of a monster than a man. He uses Catherine’s death as a reason to brutalize and exploit Catherine’s daughter, Hareton, and Linton Heathcliff. Meanwhile, Catherine appears to transform into a ghostly figure. She seems to continuously haunt and torment Heathcliff in her afterlife.

Heathcliff is not the only beastly character in the novel. Catherine’s brother, Hindley, is vicious as well. Jealous of Heathcliff, Hindley hits Heathcliff and verbally abuses him. After giving Heathcliff his colt, Hindley tells him, “I hope he’ll kick out your brains!” Considering Hindley’s cruelty and the mysterious arrival of Heathcliff, one might also contend that the gothic elements prefigure Catherine and Heathcliff’s stormy romance.

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