Wuthering Heights Questions and Answers
by Emily Brontë

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What is the symbolic significance of the marriage of Hareton and Cathy in Wuthering Heights?

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Let us remember the strong role that family and bloodlines play in this novel. A key aspect of Gothic literature is the way in which family curses or evils are passed down through the generations, and cycles of violence and abuse are repeated. We see this in the way that Heathcliff, having been abused by Hindley, himself abuses Hindley's son, Hareton. However, in the form of Hareton and of Cathy, we have representatives of both the Earnshaw and of the Linton families, and thus their union represents a kind of healing of the relationship between these two houses. The fact that the new married couple are going to leave Wuthering Heights to "such ghosts as choose to inhabit it" and will move in to Thrushcross Grange also is highly significant, as throughout the novel, these two opposing houses symbolise, respectively, the dark, passionate nature of the human soul and respectable civilisation. Thus the fact that the married couple will move to Thrushcross Grange points towards a more settled, civilised existence than the kind of lives that they experienced on the exposed moor in Wuthering Heights. The marriage thus symbolises a happy ending, and that things have gone round full circle. Lockwood himself makes a very revealing comment about the couple:

"They are afraid of nothing," I grumbled, watching their approach through the window. "Together, they would brave Satan and all his legions."

In their youth, vitality and love, the couple are shown to be more than a match for any lingering phantoms that may still walk around the moors.

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