The central theme of Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë is the relationship between Cathy and Heathcliff. The problem of the bond between Cathy and Heathcliff and its significance remains the central mystery of the novel till the very end. In fact, the novel is a revengeful love story of Heathcliff, the protagonist.
Catherine is the daughter of Mr & Mrs. Earnshaw and Heathcliff is a pickup boy by Mr. Earnshaw from the slums of Liverpool city and is named Heathcliff Earnshaw by Mr. Earnshaw. Mr. Earnshaw’s treatment towards Heathcliff is likely a father’s treatment towards his own child. Environment of the moor and same dwelling place gives both Cathy and Heathcliff a greater chance to develop their romantic love-affair. In addition, Cathy’s own brother, Hindley’s hostile and cruel treatments towards Heathliff fines Cathy’s love for Heathliff.
As children, Cathy and Heathcliff seem to represent the spirit of Freedom as they are rebelling against the tyrannical authority represented by Hindley. They are also rebelling against religious bigotry as represented by Joseph.
Their love exists on a higher or spiritual plane; they are soul mates, two people who have an affinity for each other which draws them together irresistibly. Heathcliff repeatedly calls Catherine his soul.
A life-force relationship is a principle that is not conditioned by anything but it. Catherine and Heathcliff's love is based on their shared perception that they are the same. Catherine declares, famously, “I am Heathcliff,” while Heathcliff, upon Catherine's death, wails that he cannot live without his “soul,” meaning Catherine.
Both Cathy and Heathcliff love each other profoundly. Yet we notice some ambiguity in both Cathy’s speech and action.
Cathy and Heathcliff are creatures of the wild moorland where conventional social standards are meaningless. After meeting with Edgar, Cathy develops an interest towards him. She now seems to be equally interested in Edgar and Heathcliff. She has not certainly given up Heathcliff. In fact she defines her brother Hindley and manages to meet Heathcliff secretly. Indeed there remains a striking contrast between Edgar and Heathcliff far as behavior, looks and refinement is concerned. And it is obvious for a sweet girl of fifteen to be in dilemma about both of them because one is her earlier love and later another appears with more redefined and behavior.
Cathy decides to marry Edgar for his social status. She decides to marry Edgar for his social standards. Indeed he is handsome, young and cheerful. But she informs Nelly, the house keeper, of her profound attachment to Heathcliff, saying
“Nelly he (Heathcliff) is more myself than I am. Whatever our sols are made of, his ad mine are the same.”
But Heathcliff who loves Cathy more than anything in his life overhears Cathy saying to Nelley:-
“It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff, now.”’
He would not hear further as he leaves with his heart which is teared up into several pieces and blood is blowing from his hear inwardly. From this context of Cathy’s speech we can have a clear notion that the love affair between Cathy and Heathliff is anti-social as Heathcliff is a pick up boy and then is no trait of his parents.
After overhearing such stuff, Heathcliff leaves the Wuthering Heights without saying anything to anybody and leaves no traces of him.
When Heathcliff has left, Cathy marries Edgar. After her marriages she understands her betrayal of her true self and as a result she is going to be sick and ill in accordance with the passing of days. After six months of their marriages, Heathcliff returns and seeing him live Cathy feels so delighted. Inspite of Edgars dismay, Cathy and Heathcliff sit looking at one another “absorbed in their mutual joy to suffer embarrassment.” Yet there is no romantic erotic infatuation.
Though she is married to Edgar, she feels an ardent love and desire for Heathcliff which is anti- social. She believes that Linton is subordinate and that Heathcliff is part of her.
In Chapter 15, Heathcliff himself burst into Cathy’s room and in a moment she was in his arms. He begins to show countless kisses on her. Then Cathy confesses that she is responsible for everything because she has married Edgar when she has actually been in love with him ( Heathcliff). She then asks him to kiss her again.
Twelve years have passed after Cathy’s death. Heathcliff suffers a lot and at the same time make others to suffer.
When Edgar Linton dies and the designs of Linton’s grave is going on Heathcliff bribes the Sexton to remove the earth of the lid of the coffin in which Cathy lay. And opening the lid of the coffin and has seen Cathy’s face again. In fact, he has, with his own hands, digs out her grave on this occasion. This he has done out of his titanic love for Cathy. But in view of social perspective, what he has done for love is really amoral.
Not only that he has also bribed the Sexton to pull away one panel of the coffin, his object being, that when he himself dies, his dead body should be buried close to Cathy’s dead body without being there any wall between them. His unfathomable love for Cathy makes him do such thing that is anti-moral.
At the end, we can say that the unalloyed love of Heathcliff turns to anti-moral as well as anti-social because of Cathy’s ambition to get social standard and his own psychological problem. In Wuthering Heights Catherine and Heathcliff’s love is a direct challenge to those social forces of family and class which tyrannize, oppress and restrict individuals and their relationship.