Three Aspects of Destructive Relationships in Wuthering Heights
Many people in the world are trying to find a perfect companion. Some of these
may marry and not know 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. Because 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.
This led to a separation between Hareton and his father as well. One 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). 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. 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
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.