AP Literature and Composition The Maddness of Wuthering Heights What is madness? It is defined as the state of having a serious mental illness, extremely foolish behavior, according to Oxford Dictionary. To an author, however, it can be so much more. In her novel, Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte had a method behind the madness, so to speak, using it to make many main points throughout the novel. She employs this madness specifically in her character Heathcliff, whose own emotions driven him to insanity. Through what causes him to go mad, and his actions as a result, the story is develped
Heathcliff’s madness derived from multiple factors but is rooted from hate shown by Hindley. When Mr. Earnshaw founb Heathcliff in the streets and took him in (page 36), he treated him like his son, sometimes even better than his own children. This created Hindley’s resentment for Heathcliff. Hindley did not like the attention Heathcliff recived from his father, therefore wanted to make Heathcliff as miserable as possible. When Hindley makes him a servant of the family, after Mr. Earnshaw’s death (page 43), he makes his distain know, with constasnt abuse and ill-treatment.
It would give reason to Heathcliff’s loathing of Hindley. No one would agreeably go through that adversity without good reason. Therefore, it would seem reasonable for Heathcliff to leave when he thought Catherine was going to leave him. All of the time he spent away, would leave time to grow rueful to Hindley, and plot revenge for his mistreatment. He became so consumed by revenge, that he became void of any previous emotion. He lost care for anything other than shaming Hindley and gaining control of the Heights. He didn’t care who got in his way, and used others for his own selfish reason.
This was the reason why Heathcliff married Isabella (page 131). Isabella would not have known of his schemes, as Heathcliff kept his true character hidden; he kept his madness well hidden. After Catherine’s death, he would have no other purpose to live but to fulfill his plan, even using Cathy (Catherine’s daughter) and his own son, forcing them to marry (page 248). Therefore, there is no question that the theme that the desire for revenge can consume someone is not a question. Heathcliff’s thirst for revenge was caused by his madness, nd it is present in most of the book. Another probable cause of Heathcliff’s madness is his love and obsession with Catherine. Heathcliff is treated terribly by all but Catherine, and she becomes his solace; his only friend. Her companionship is likely what kept him sane for longer. When she distanced herself, growing closer to the Lintons after staying there for several weeks (page 52), his attitude changed. Resentment and jealousy begin to form. She was not spending as much time with him, leaving him to endure whatever punishment Hindley forced on him.
He was losing the one person he had left who seemed to care about him Therefore, when she announced she was going to marry Edgar Linton, he ran and did not return for years (page 84). While he was away, he probably lost sight of reason, of what he previously thought mattered. He was likely angry that she would leave him for someone he did not like; that she wouldn’t be with him. His madness only worsened when she died, as the thought of life without her was too much for him to bear. He caused her death by running off with Isabella. His madness led to Catherine’s lapse from reality.
She lost her mind over his actions, and as a result he lost her. His madness was caused by love, as he didn’t know how to grieve. The message of spiritual love and torment that is present throughout the story is shown throught this aspect of Heathcliff’s madness. He loved Catherine desperately, and her death tormented him for the remainder of his life. His madness nearly ruined the lives of the others around him, stopped only by his own death. Was Heathcliff mad before he arrived at Wuthering Heights? It is not said, but how it developed is crucial in developing the story.
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