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Disordered and Destructive Relationships in Wuthering Heights

People often try to find a perfect relationship and a perfect companion. Some of them even marry without knowing what their new husband or wife is like. This kind of situation often leads to separation or hostility. Other situations may develop between two friends that stem from jealousy, desire for revenge, uncaring parents, etc. Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights displays several characteristics of destructive relationships. Three of these are uncaring parents, marriage without knowing the person, and jealousy.

Uncaring or unsympathizing parents are shown throughout this story to be an element of destructive relationships. Nelly tells Mr. Lockwood a story from Heathcliff's childhood. Mr. Earnshaw had favored Heathcliff, and he was able to get whatever he wanted. When Mr. Earnshaw gave each boy a horse, Heathcliff insisted on having the prettier one. When this one got hurt, Heathcliff tried to take Hindley's horse. Heathcliff threatened to tell father about all the times Hindley beat him, and in retaliation, Hindley hit him. Heathcliff seems to want Hindley to hit him, so he will have something to hold against him. He doesn't even need to fight back, because father will always take his side. Thus Heathcliff gained all the attention from Mr. Earnshaw, Hindley became disassociated from his father. This separation continued until after Mr. Earnshaw had died.

Another example is between Hindley and Hareton. Hindley became such a drunk and a gambler that he could not properly care for young Hareton. Even affection is violent with him, and the boy pulls away from his father's rough embrace. This led to a separation between Hareton and his father as well.

Aother primary example of an uncaring parent is shown between Heathcliff and his son Linton. Heathcliff did not even want his son for anything except enacting a part of his revenge. This is shown by Linton's fear of Heathcliff and Heathcliff's enmity toward his son. Linton even says "... my father threatened me, and I dread him - I dread him!"(244) to express his feeling about Heathcliff. The hostility and separation between father and son in this book shows that uncaring parents can cause serious damage in relationships with their children.


This element of destructive behavior may stem from an unhappy marriage in which the husbands or wives don't know each other. This had happened between Isabella and Heathcliff. Isabella did not really know Heathcliff when she married him, but after she had married him she saw that Heathcliff was not a gentleman at all. To declare her feelings she wrote " Is Heathcliff a man? If so, is he mad? And if not, is he a devil? I shan't tell my reasons for making this inquiry; but I beseech you to explain, if you can, what I have married ..."(125). Heathcliff hangs Isabelle's dog from a tree, Another example of this is when Catherine married Edgar Linton. Although she had been happy at the beginning of the marriage, she thought having parties all the time was going to be fun. Yet, after a while, she became bored. She also realized that she loved Heathcliff more than Edgar and would always love Heathcliff. This enlightenment created separation between Edgar and Catherine during the final hours of Cathy's life. An additional marriage which was made that was doomed was the one between Catherine and Linton. Because this was a forced marriage, Cathy had not yet learned all she could about Linton. Because she did not know until after the marriage that Linton was selfish and inconsiderate, she became distressed and grew isolated in the house. These three failed marriages described in this novel show that knowing the person you will marry is very important.

While these marriages took place, jealousy also took a hold in some relationships. One example of this is when Mr. Earnshaw starts to favor Heathcliff over his own son, Hindley. Because of this, Hindley becomes jealous of young Heathcliff and sets out to make Heathcliff's life a nightmare. Hindley's jealousy becomes evident when he says ,"... be damned you beggarly interloper! and wheedle my father out of all he has; only afterwards show him what you are, imp of Satan."(35). Jealousy was also found very notably in the relationship between Heathcliff and Edgar Linton. The jealousy between them is expressed when Heathcliff and Edgar start a hostile conversation after Cathy's homecoming at Christmas near the beginning of the book. Heathcliff hates that Catherine likes him, and when Linton makes a comment about Heathcliff's hair, Heathcliff throws hot applesauce in his face. Heathcliff's violence is answered with more violence. Hindley took him upstairs and beat him, and when he came back down he told Linton that next time he should beat him himself
Hindley, crazed with the loss of his wife and his land, tells Isabella about his plan to kill Heathcliff. Every night he tries to open Heathcliff's bedroom door, and when one night it is unlocked, he plans to shoot him. He believes some kind of devil urges him to settle the score this way.

As the story progresses these two become bitter enemies who will not speak to one another. Another relationship which jealousy ruined is the one between Hareton and Linton. These two become jealous of each other over Cathy's affections. This relationship ends as Hareton and Linton hating each other. These relationships show that jealousy can ruin a relationship very quickly.

The jealousy, neglect, and unprepared nature of the many relationships in this book indicates that many of the relationships in this book have gone "sour". In spite of all these destructive elements one relationship may succeed. This is the one between Cathy and Hareton. Because there is no more jealousy or neglect, and because they are getting to know each other, their relationship has a good chance of succeeding. Because all the other failed relationships in this book containing the elements; jealousy, neglect, and ignorance concerning the nature of your companion; one can conclude that these elements will destroy any relationship.

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