Illustration of a tree on a hill with a women's head in the background

Wuthering Heights

by Emily Brontë

Start Free Trial

How do love and revenge drive the plot of Wuthering Heights?

Quick answer:

Love sparks the plot of Wuthering Heights as Catherine and Heathcliff fall in love, but when Mr. Earnshaw dies, revenge takes center stage as Hindley takes vengeance on Heathcliff. When Catherine marries Edgar out of a desire for social advancement rather than love, Heathcliff begins his many years of harsh vengeance against everyone. The story ends, however, on a note of love between young Catherine and Hareton.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Love (of various degrees and kinds) and revenge join together to drive the plot of Wuthering Heights. Let's see how this works.

The book begins with love. Catherine Earnshaw falls in love with Heathcliff, an orphan boy her father brings to Wuthering Heights to live with the family. Mr. Earnshaw favors Heathcliff much more than his own son, Hindley, and this makes Hindley vigorously jealous.

When Mr. Earnshaw dies, the first plot of vengeance begins as Hindley inherits Wuthering Heights and turns Heathcliff into a mere servant, abusing him badly. Catherine and Heathcliff, however, continue their romance until Catherine is forced to stay with the Linton family at Thrushcross Grange for several weeks after an injury. During this period, she develops a relationship with Edgar Linton, and the two eventually become engaged. It is doubtful that Catherine truly loves Edgar, for she is seeking mostly social advancement through their relationship.

Heathcliff leaves Wuthering Heights for a time, and when he returns, he discovers a way to take revenge on Hindley. He lends Hindley money, drawing him further and further into debt and despair until Hindley dies and Heathcliff inherits Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff continues his vengeance (now on Catherine and Edgar) by marrying Isabella Linton and treating her so cruelly that she runs away to London.

The years pass. Catherine has died in childbirth, but her daughter, also named Catherine, takes over the cycle of love and revenge. Heathcliff's son, Linton, is now living with his father, and Heathcliff (who is as cruel as can be to his son) forces him to pretend to be in love with Catherine. Heathcliff forces the young couple to marry, thus securing his title to Thrushcross Grange. Love has nothing to do with their relationship; it is all about revenge.

After Linton and Heathcliff die, the young Catherine can finally find real love. Surprisingly, she finds it in her cousin Hareton, the son of Hindley. Revenge has finally ended, and love takes over as the couple plans their wedding at the end of the novel.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial