Is Wuthering Heights a love story?

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Wuthering Heights is a love story. In it, Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff grow up together in a dysfunctional household marked by physical abuse and alcoholism. They often escape together to their beloved moors, like two wild creatures. Because they have no one else to lean on, they grow extremely close. By the time they are teenagers, they are deeply in love.

What attracts people to the novel is the strength of their love. As Catherine describes it, it is not the superficial romantic love that most people experience. Few, if any, works of literature describe a passion as wild and intense as this one. It has deep roots, and the two are so alike, so joined, that Catherine can say "I AM Heathcliff." She tells Nellie:

My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff’s miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning: my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and HE remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger ... My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary.

The novel suggests that the two have a bond that transcends death. The intensity of their love and the fact it was thwarted through Hindley's degradation of Heathcliff has shattering effects on both the Earnshaw and Linton families. Catherine marries the wealthy Linton instead of Heathcliff, who responds after her death by wreaking revenge on both families.

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As William Shakespeare said, "the course of true love never did run smooth" and if one bases one's definition of a love story on this, then Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights is definitely a love story.

Soon after young Catherine Earnshaw's father adopts an unkempt boy called Heathcliff, she develops a close friendship with him. When she grew older, however, Catherine became romantically involved with Edgar Linton, and later marries him, despite being in love with Heathcliff. Heathcliff later marries Edgar's sister Isabella, as a way of spiting Edgar and Catherine. Catherine later dies soon after giving birth to Edgar's daughter, and years later, Heathcliff starves himself to death, still unable to put Cathy out of his mind.

While the events of this novel are set in motion and propelled by the love that Cathy and Heathcliff had for one another, there is certainly no happy romantic ending.

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The darkness of the characters in Wuthering Heights, especially of Cathy and Heathcliff, is drawn out by their professed love for each other. Although the novel has been traditionally seen as emblematic of tragic and passionate love, another reading of it frames the actions of Cathy and Heathcliff as that of sadists. Their sadism and masochism is evident in their torture of themselves and each other. For instance, they both marry other people to hurt each other. In fact, they marry based on a calculation of the maximum amount of pain they can inflict. They are self-destructive and it kills them, especially Cathy. Even at the end, their passion for each other seems to be a perverse love-hate storm.

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