Wuthering Heights
Emily Brontë

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Sharon Fleming

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Themes are described as ideas that dominate a particular piece of literature. In almost all cases, pieces of literature will be centered a theme or a number of them.
Good vs. Evil
The novel builds on conflicting themes. The book Wuthering Heights is a spiritual exploration of the subject of good and evil. It compares judgment versus pity, love and obsession, and violence and revenge. The competing themes are deeply rooted in religion and social life. The four thematic areas of pity, humility, love, and forgiveness promote good. Whereas choosing judgment, pride, obsession, and violence lead to evil. Joseph, a servant, had a twisted religious belief. Joseph referred to as a borderline Christian that belief much without supporting evidence. The good is represented by angels while the evil demonic spirits or ghosts. Lockwood nightmare of sleeping in church and later visitation with ghosts indicate good and evil survive side by side. The individual has the responsibility of making good choices. The novel starts with the description of good and evil using imagery and repetition for clarity. The themes of good and evil have biblical references pitting images of angels and the devil. Mrs. Dean the narrator wonders if the environment affects how one turns out either good or evil. Privileged characters like Hindley are not immune to the personal choices individuals are forced to make. Upon Hindley's wife died, he renounces God and spirals into oblivion. Emily brings out the concept of religion and decisions about the afterlife. The personal choices force the characters to chose good or evil eventually ending up in anguish or peace represented by hell and heaven. Heathcliff represents evil marked by violence, revenge, pride, judgment, and obsession. Catherine, Isabella, Hareton and Mrs. Dean represent the good fighting evil that is Heathcliff. Cathy and Heathcliff represent violence, selfishness, and obsession that end up consuming them. The two rejected religion and heaven left wandering in the moors. Joseph represents neither good nor evil, having no stand represents religious hypocrisy where one believes he is good while having no character to exhibit the qualities. Hypocrisy tends to side with evil than good which is a contradiction.
Judgement vs. Pity
Brontë cleverly separates divine judgment from human understanding. Divine punishment reserved for the Almighty God, while human beings cautioned against judging. Judgment is left to be a preserve of God. People need to pity others instead of passing judgment. Judgment and pity are competing opposites. Human beings have no right to judge because of the adverse effects of pain, injustice, and suffering. The lives of Heathcliff and Hindley end up miserable because of their lack of pity for others. Eventually, no one pitied Heathcliff and Hindley. Also, Linton suffers the same fate for his treatment of Catherine. The servant and the master relationship is a classical representation of the judgment and pity theme. Servants out of their disadvantaged position are always expected to pity their masters while the masters instead of pity usually pass judgment on their subjects. The characters who judge appear as mean, selfish and destructive. Humility and pity practiced by individuals who expect no reward. Catherine humility towards Hareton gets her by inheriting Thrushcross Grange. Pity and compassion lessen the pain on the afflicted. Judgment makes people harden their hearts and want revenge to relieve their pain.
Violence and Revenge
Brontë presents a sound argument on the environmental effect of force on a person’s response by being vengeful. The power of forgiveness lessens the pain. Hindley mistreatment of Heathcliff created a bitter and vindictive individual. Isabella's balanced approach to violence shows that violence affects the person who chooses it, making violence a personal choice. Brontë shows that apathy breeds violence. Fear of violence is a survival means of avoiding pain. Brontë proposes the best methods to fight violence are duty, compassion, charity, and kindness. Brontë approach is practice by Catherine who is a heroine in the book.
Love and Obsession
In the first phase of the book, Brontë shows that it is unfair to go against once heart. She compares going against one's heart, and soul is choosing death. Human love cannot replace the concept of Christianity and the love of God. Cathy and Heathcliff love in the absence of God is pure idolatry. Love turns into an obsession. Isabella falsely expected love and was disappointed to receive violence, abuse, and hatred instead. Isabella having grown up in Thrushcross Grange where people are honest, and well-meaning is surprised with life in Wuthering Heights. She loves Heathcliff who doesn't return the love. Heathcliff decides to marry Isabella to ridicule Edgar and the high society. Heathcliff gets relief from his past pain by inflicting terror on the members of the high society. The lives of Catherine and Hareton demonstrate that love can overcome pride and evil leading to happiness.
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