"Love and revenge are the two main themes in Wuthering Heights as they govern the whole story and grip us throughout the novel." Discuss.
There is certainly lots of truth in this statement. Love and revenge are two of the key themes in this novel that result in its plot and the way in which Heathcliff sets out to seemingly take over and destroy the Linton family. What drives him is his love for Catherine, and this, even after her death, is something that impels him forward on his path to perdition as he seeks to revenge himself on those who he feels oppose him and opposed his union with her. This is why he gains revenge on Hindley for the way in which he treated him when he was master of Wuthering Heights, and also the way in which he gains revenge on Edgar through the way in which he marries his sister and then forces his beloved daughter into a marriage with his son and tries to keep her from being with him when she dies.
However, let us also remember that Catherine is a character who is consumed with revenge just as much as Heathcliff, in some ways. She in effect kills herself because she is so annoyed by the way in which both Heathcliff and Edgar stay away from her at her time of need. Revenge is shown not to be the exclusive property of Heathcliff.
In addition, the overarching theme, and in many ways the cause of the theme of revenge, is the love that Heathcliff and Catherine have for each other. Let us remember Catherine's famous description of her love for Heathcliff in Chapter Nine:
My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I AM Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.
It is this love that is shown to endure throughout their lives, and even beyond, as the rumours of ghosts and spirits that walk the moors shows.
The love that Catherine and Heathcliff shares between themselves is something that can be called of a transcendental quality i. e. the love has some intrinsic inhibition of flourishing in our mundane reality. So catherine must have to choose Edgar Linton, a refined and wealthy man of superficial nature and ice-cold temperament that merely can satisfy her soul. As a matter of fact, Edgar is a foil not only for Heathcliff but also for Catherine herself. She expected, quite foolishly, that she would manage to have, very easily, both Edgar, as her husband, necessary for her life and Heathcliff, as her lover, essential for her soul. But when the situation turns the opposite, she, in a way, takes her revenge on both of them through the path of destroying herself. Here also love intertwines with the theme of revenge as Catherine pines for being reunited with Heathcliff in her death-wish. Similarly Heathcliff, on his part, wants to be one with his soul-mate and that is why he prays her soul to haunt him till his death. However, the belief in him that he has to lose Cathy for Hindley and Edgar spurs his vindictive instincts making him a devil incarnate.
However the driving force that works here is undoubtedly love that is so passionate, so primordial and so much powerful in its true form that it can be fulfilled only in the realm of the dead, as has been hinted towards the close of the novel. As the readers, we also heave a sigh of relief as the shower of love soothes the storm of revenge at the end.