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Wuthering Heights

by Emily Brontë

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What is the theme of love in Wuthering Heights?

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In Wuthering Heights, love is presented as a force with varying purposes and intensities.

The love between Catherine and Heathcliff is the novel's central storyline. These two bring very different backgrounds to their bond, and this is one of the reasons they find themselves in nearly constant conflict. Catherine's childhood has been peaceful and privileged; Heathcliff is an orphan with a tumultuous personality. When the two combine, their passions are both otherworldly and seem to transcend earthly boundaries. This connection is so powerful that Catherine proclaims, "I AM Heathcliff!" in chapter 9 and later, in one of the most famous lines of literature, asserts that "whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same." Still, this deep connection doesn't mean that their relationship is marked by affection and pleasantries. Instead, the passions between Catherine and Heathcliff seem to fuel a violence toward each other. This is a complex and fiery love which is simultaneously toxic.

Catherine chooses to marry Edgar Linton, who is more socially acceptable. This is a different kind of love, one which isn't based in passion but instead in circumstance. Edgar is a gentleman who loves Catherine as best as he is able to express; unfortunately, his mild manner isn't enough to fully capture the spirited heart of Catherine. Despite his wife's emotional betrayals, Edgar treats her with compassion and worries over her with great anxiety when she falls deathly ill. Though Catherine does not love Edgar with passion, she does admit to admiring Edgar because he is handsome, pleasant, and wealthy.

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