THE REPRESENTATION OF DOUBLE NATURE IN WUTHERING HEIGHTS
This article intends to highlight the existence of major characters’ opposition to the overwhelming influence of the outer landscape on individuals and to reflect their dominance over nature in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights (1847). This study demonstrates that the main fictional characters who are mainly considered to be a part of nature in Wuthering Heights contradict with outlying hills. Such diversity manifests the existence of a conflict between the characters and the outer landscape and, thereby, signifies the presence of a double formation of characters in this literary work. The first one forms the main fictional characters and the second one includes the outer natural landscape which is portrayed as a mystical character that is thought to be dominant on the main characters. Most critics point out that the landscape of the moors is a dominant character because of affecting personal features of fictional characters and plays the key role in their psychological matters. However, this study indicates that characters oppose the effect of outlying hills and reflect their dominance over the nature. A strong sense of the existence of nature is much more influential on particularly Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw as well as Edgar Linton in Wuthering Heights. Thus, this study demonstrates a double formation of characters which reflects the existence of a conflict between their inner worlds and the outer landscape. Catherine represents merciless nature in the sense of being divided between her passion for Heathcliff and her ambitions. Yet, her emotional attitudes echo a strong personal characteristic distinct from natural impact. As a powerful, fierce, and often cruel man, Heathcliff, on the other hand, strongly displays contradictory actions toward the overpowering influence of the moors and uses his extraordinary powers of will to be effective in both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. These opposite emotional states emphasize that these main characters contradict with the nature instead of accepting its dominance.
THE REPRESENTATION OF DOUBLE NATURE IN WUTHERING HEIGHTS It is rustic all through. It is moorish and wild, and knotty as a root of heath1 As critics and historians alike intend to discover Emily Bronte’s meaning and aims behind the work, Wuthering Heights has been the subject of much criticism in English literary history. Within the reader-response critical outlook, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights will be analyzed in the light of some critics who oppose and support the argument in this article. Many such as Margaret Homans, David Daiches, and Anna Krugovoy Silver agree in their articles that Wuthering Heights focuses on the dominance of natural forces over men. However, this study highlights the conflict between the landscape and the fictional characters and signifies the existence of a double formation of characters in Wuthering Heights. The use of “double” can be evaluated from different perspectives in Wuthering Heights. In this article, “double nature” is used to explain the presence of two types of character formations. The first one involves the fictional characters who live on Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange and who are in conflict with the outlying hills. The second one embodies the landscape and its overwhelming influence which makes Wuthering Heights a mysterious masterpiece. The universality of the novel generates from a strong sense of the presence of natural setting which corresponds with most characters’ emotions. However, the existence of diversity between the natural forces and the emotional affairs should not be disregarded when Catherine, Heathcliff, and Edgar Linton’s relationships are considered. Apart from the previous literary works, this article underlines resistance towards nature’s domination over personal psychologies, i.e., this study contradicts with several critics who point out that nature captivates the main fictional characters’ lives in Wuthering Heights. One of these, Margaret Homans, notes that Emily Bronte employs a strong sense of the presence of nature in a way that it enters consciousness or the present time of the characters and the narrator. Moreover, Homans expounds that the mystery of Wuthering Heights is effective in Bronte’s house image in order to explain the present psychology of the characters in the novel (1978: 16). Another critic Anna Krugovoy Silver explains that natural landscape embodies the house on Wuthering Heights as if becoming central to maturation, mothering and nurturance (2003: 2). Focusing on the “spirit of place” in Wuthering Heights, Elizabeth Sabiston also contradicts with the main argument of this study by identifying characters strongly in respect to the landscape and reflecting its dominance over them (2008: 100). Following a reader-response literary theory in this article, it would be thought somehow contradictory to reflect the ideas of some other literary critics in this study. However, while reflecting the ideas of some other critics, the aim is to point out their contradiction with the subject matter of this study, i.e., the subject matter of this study embodies an original approach to comment on the connection between the characters and the natural forces. In order to assess universality of Wuthering Heights, it is significant to focus on Emily Bronte’s narration policy. Bronte describes Wuthering Heights with a mysterious natural imagery of a stormbeaten old house on the moors throughout the novel. Such a mysterious setting indicates the essence of mythical unfolding in this masterpiece. Timelessness and universality of the novel generates from Bronte’s approach to environmental and psychological events. Catherine and Heathcliff’s passion in this natural setting is identified as the basic mythic quality. As Bettina L. Knapp indicates since myths live outside temporal time, novel’s universality and timelessness stem from characters’ archetypal depths in this mysterious setting (Knapp, 1991: 107). This emphasizes that Wuthering Heights has become a myth through Emily Bronte’s Puritanical cultural and literary canon. Moreover, the use of setting and nature imagery in Wuthering Heights helps to assess how human beings are affected by the environment and are in a struggle to oppose natural impact through their inner worlds. This implies that some characters, especially Heathcliff and Catherine, intend to suppress the strength of the natural landscape by their passion. A mystic quality becomes substantial in this novel because of the unity of diverse
emotional and thematic issues. In addition to double character formation, the existence of some other contradictions appears in Wuthering Heights. David Daiches supports this point of view and expresses that “the homely and familiar and the wild and extravagant go together” in Emily Bronte’s novel (1985: 12). This emphasizes that while exploring the environment, Bronte also remarks the coexistence of passion to protest the dominance of nature over human psychology. The so-called winds existing in the lives of Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw reflect the conflict between the moors and the characters. This demonstrates that the harmony of social and domestic lives is destroyed by the mystic and gothic breeze of the hills, i.e., this happens to be another contradiction in the novel. Emily Bronte manifests such a mysterious setting while informing the readers about a wild, mystic, and isolated setting and presents them a dangerous and stormy environment on which there is a clash between the characters and the natural forces, i.e., a combat between the inner worlds and the outlying hills. Enriched with the stories of two families, the Earnshaws reside at Wuthering Heights and the Lintons dwell at Thrushcross Grange. The complex feelings of jealousy and rivalry in connection with a passionate love story begin to rise as a challenge to the strength of the landscape with the coming of Heathcliff to the Earnshaws.2 Heathcliff is the major character of Wuthering Heights who causes the emergence of a passionate love story and is the one being in a struggle to suppress the stormy weather of Wuthering Heights with his angry and aggressive attitudes whereas Catherine reflects her sense of combat through her calmness and coolnees. Unlike the natural landscape, Catherine is a cool character and reflects her struggle with nature through her calmness. While Heathcliff is identified with the rocks, storm, wind, and the stones of the Heights, Edgar is associated with the cool and calm weather of the valley in Thrushcross Grange.3 Edgar shows the controversy between the landscape and the civilized world. Edgar represents the modern world opposing Wuthering Heights, on the other hand, Heathcliff signifies—and also challenges—the natural landscape with his aggressive nature in the novel. Catherine verbalizes her love towards Heathcliff and introduces his natural attributes to the readers. Emily Bronte identifies Heathcliff with the natural imagery while focusing on Catherine’s thoughts and emotions about him. For Catherine, Heathcliff is the representation of nature: Heathcliff is: an unreclaimed creature, without refinement, without cultivation; an arid wilderness of furze and whinstone. I’d as soon put that little canary into the park on a winter’s day, as recommend you to bestow your heart on him! It is deplorable ignorance of his character, child, and nothing else, which makes that dream enter your head. Pray, don’t imagine that he conceals depths of benevolence and affection beneath a stern exterior! He’s not a rough diamond - a pearl-containing oyster of a rustic: he’s a fierce, pitiless, wolfish man. I never say to him, “Let this or that enemy alone, because it would be ungenerous or cruel to harm them;” I say, “Let them alone, because I should hate them to be wronged:” and he’d crush you like a sparrow’s egg, Isabella, if he found you a troublesome charge. I know he couldn’t love a Linton; [. . .] There’s my picture: and I’m his friend. (Bronte, 1985: 141-142) 4 Catherine, here, describes Heathcliff’s subduing endeavor and energy. In her description, Heathcliff displays the existence of his inner paradox and nature throughout his aggressive and harsh behaviors. This indicates that Catherine associates Heathcliff with the natural world of the hills and approves his intention to correspond natural events with the same attitudes. Catherine’s evaluation of Heathcliff also signifies the issue of double formation in Wuthering Heights. Despite her passion towards Heathcliff, she considers him as a non-human being. Catherine’s double appreciation of Heathcliff signifies that in psychoanalysis
of the main fictional characters, they reflect their contradictory evaluations of each other (Sedgwick, 1986: 110) Being assessed as a nonhuman supernatural being, Heathcliff is noted as powerful and wild, --even more powerful than nature because of his passion to have dominance over it. Catherine Earnshaw, on the other hand, embodies the characteristics of both Heathcliff and Edgar. By becoming a unity of two different characters, Catherine signifies doubleness in her own nature and reflects her resistence towards nature’s power by her own strength involving two character types in her own. Catherine stands for both the life of the moors and the calm weather of the valley.5 Catherine occupies a midway position between the world of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. She is in a dilemma which world to choose because of belonging in a sense to both of the worlds.6 Similar to Heathcliff, Catherine reflects nature in her actions and in her face. Bronte describes that natural setting shines in Catherine’s face: “Catherine’s face was just like the landscape – shadows and sunshine flitting over it, in rapid succession; but the shadows rested longer and the sunshine was more transient” (1985: 297). She accepts that she belongs to the natural world especially in her explanation that she should love Heathcliff instead of Edgar. She blames herself for choosing Edgar instead of Heathcliff, i.e., she feels guilty for choosing the modern life as symbolized by Edgar instead of the natural setting of Wuthering Heights as represented by Heathcliff (Bronte, 1985: 163). Catherine confesses that she becomes depressed by the modern world which further indicates that Edgar depresses her (Bronte, 1985 183). This implies that Catherine insists on opposing nature through her appearance: being cool and calm, she opposes nature and exhibits that she is fearless and unaffected from the gothic influence of nature in Wuthering Heights. Furthermore, by explaining her love for both Heathcliff and Edgar Linton, Catherine subconsciously or consciously intends to comment about their characteristics. While describing how her love differs for them, she reveals that she is also a part of nature as Heathcliff is and displays Heathcliff’s similar conflicts. Emily Bronte explains this differentiation as: If all else perished and he remained, I could still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger. [. . .] My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods. [. . .] My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff. [. . .] not as a pleasure. [. . .] but as my own being. (1985: 122) She emphasizes the natural quality of her emotions by enriching her feelings for Heathcliff and Edgar by means of natural imagery. Moreover, Catherine indicates that she is the other self of Heathcliff, i.e., Heathcliff and Catherine’s identities are intertwined. This is the reason why she enriches her feelings for Heathcliff. Through such a detailed vivid descriptions of the natural world in Wuthering Heights, Bronte implies how the novel is embodied by a strong sense of the presence of nature. On the other hand, Bronte emphasizes the coexisting conflicts and controversies between nature and the major characters through the detailed individual descriptions, i.e., characters oppose nature’s empowerment through their individual supremacy. Through lively and colorful descriptions of the natural setting, it seems nature is personified as if a dominant active character opposing the main fictional characters. Emily Bronte illustrates descriptive evaluations of nature in most places: In the evening, the weather broke; the wind shifted from south to north-east and brought rain first and then sleet, and snow. On the morrow, one could hardly imagine that there had been three weeks of summer: the primroses and crocuses were hidden under wintry drifts; the larks were silent, the young leaves of the early trees smitten and blackened. (1985: 206) Similar to nature’s beautiful descriptions in Wuthering Heights, Catherine is depicted as a beautiful person in a way responding to the beauty of nature. Landscape descriptions in Wuthering Heights become much clearer when characters use natural elements such as wind, snow, and cliff in their dialogues. Through introducing and depicting them with such wild and natural terms, Bronte implies that characters turn out to be like the nature itself in order to subdue it. Bronte describes natural forces and events vividly while narrating the plot by means of Nelly Dean and Lockwood in order to display the connection between the inner and outer natural world in the novel :7 What vain weather-cocks we are! I, who had determined to hold myself independent of all social intercourse, and thanked my stars that, at length, I had lighted on a spot where it was next to impracticable, I, weak wretch, after maintaining till dusk a struggle with low spirits, and solitude, was finally compelled to strike my colours; and, under pretence of gaining information concerning the necessities of establishment. (Bronte, 1985: 74) While stressing the relation between the beauty and that of nature, Catherine is depicted as part of the natural habitat she lives in. However, she becomes much more powerful than nature in respect to her passion. Catherine’s consistency in her passion, ambition, and coolness is reflected by most critics and, thus, they support how Catherine contradicts with nature. Like most critics Phyllis Bentley, a very early critic who manifests the consistency in the outlook towards Bronte’s masterpiece, describes Cathy as “the wild and wayward, the haughty headstrong handsome tomboy, light of foot and sweet of smile, always in mischief torn between loyalty and ambition, rebellious, uncontrollable, passionate and free” (1948: 98). She is identified with the mystery of nature in different ways in her personality. Another critic, David Daiches, adds that Heathcliff signifies the depths of nature in his character as Catherine does. This indicates that Heathcliff and Catherine oppose nature through their actions and behaviors. Daiches support the argument of this study by his explanation on Heathcliff: There is also the recurrent and disturbing suggestion that the depths of man’s nature are in some way alien to him. Heathcliff comes from a mysterious outside and finds his natural mate in the inhabitant of an ordinary moorland farmhouse. We might almost say that one of the insights achieved by the novel is that what is most natural is by very virtue of its being most natural also most unnatural. Man is both at home and not at home in nature. He is capable of perversions and cruelties that are not found in nature, but that is because he is urged on by deep natural forces within him which find themselves at odds with the demands of convention and even of ordinary humanness. (Daiches, 1985: 27-28) Alienation of man also signifies that man is in conflict with the outer world. That is, there is the consistent controversy between the inner and the outer nature. Tahmina S. Rathman also notes the significance of the argument of this study that the novel is basically referred to as a masterpiece of wilderness: “It is a wild novel: wild with passion, wild with unconventionality, wild with its depiction of nature, wild with its spirituality and wild with its illustration of a transcendent love” (2000: 18). This is the reason for man’s familiarity to and estrangement from the domestic world. Despite a calm and warm opening in Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte’s mysterious and grotesque descriptions of the Heights, thereinafter, reflect how the main characters such as Heathcliff, Catherine, and Edgar correspond with the natural setting and how they differ in their controversial activities throughout the novel. Heathcliff is in a combat with nature by becoming wilder than the nature in his behaviors and attitudes. Catherine again seems to be in a combat with nature through her coolness and calmness. Edgar, on the other hand, puts forward the conflict between the cruel nature and the civilized world throughout his personal attitudes of superficial Victorian society. Thus, their ways of living reflect the existence of a natural hostility from different perspectives. Symbolically, Heathcliff’s name represents the existence of a strong inner nature opposing the landscape in Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff’s name indicates how strong and powerful he is, even more powerful than the outlying hills. “Cliff” symbolizes the cold, dark, dangerous, and stormy spirit of Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff’s name stands for a unification of ultimate forces: the words heath and cliff are an indication of the dangers to be encountered by Heathcliff, keeping pace with the dangerous, cold, fierce, and mysterious landscape. Charlotte Bronte is also critical of Heathcliff’s superhuman villainy (Drew, 1986: 47). That means he is in controversy to natural landscape. Charlotte Bronte implies that Heathcliff’s pitiless character and passion destroy both himself and the individuals surrounding him. It is stated that “the environment would most definitely be a harsher, more difficult one. Survival would be based on primal instincts and untamed passions” (Woodfield, 2002: 1). This indicates that both their instincts and their passions display the existence of an inner conflict with the natural landscape in which they struggle to overcome its power. It is obvious that Heathcliff’s passion becomes uncontrollable when Catherine dies in peace. Emily Bronte expounds Heathcliff’s passion towards Catherine in Wuthering Heights as follows: “Do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! It is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!” (1985: 204). Bronte implies that their passion destroys all their lives and is a means for uniting Heathcliff with Catherine in one soul. Emily Bronte associates the natural landscape of Wuthering Heights with Heathcliff’s inner struggle while describing the correlation and the distinction between Heathcliff’s name with that of Wuthering Heights. His attitudes and behaviors juxtapose with the windy atmosphere of the outer landscape: Wuthering Heights is the name of Heathcliff’s dwelling. ‘Wuthering’ being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather. Pure, bracing ventilation they must have up there at all times, indeed: one may guess the power of the north wind blowing over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few stunted first at the end of the house; and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun. Happily, the architect had foresight to build it strong: the narrow windows are deeply set in the wall, and the corners defended with large jutting stones. (1985: 46) Here, Bronte consciously describes the parallel between Wuthering Heights and the fierce, cold, and dangerous Heathcliff. Bronte intends to unite Heathcliff’s physical and psychological attributes with that of the wild landscape. Heathcliff is described as if he came from the very depths of nature in Wuthering Heights. This is the reason why Bronte uses words such as “thorns,” “storms,” “wind” and “stones” in the novel while describing Heathcliff (1985: 46). However, as this study argues, Heathcliff is associated with nature in order to subdue it through his gothic appearance. Bronte associates Heathcliff’s “black eyes withdrawn so suspiciously under their brow” with her description of Wuthering Heights having “narrow windows deeply set in the wall” (1985: 45). Mary Burgan supports the argument of this study as: Heathcliff experiences nature as his only home; he receives some human solace when he has Cathy as company, but he sees no reflection of Nature’s elemental vitality in the human society open to him. He therefore reveals in the violent aspects of the moors, he embraces random wildness as his only model for behavior. (1993: 139) Such a comparison underlines the theme that natural characteristics of the outlying hills create the emergence of conflicts, controversies, and paradoxes from various aspects in Wuthering Heights. Hence, characters cannot disassociate themselves from the natural aura of Wuthering Heights. The fictional characters of Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights are also in conflict with their environment in Wuthering Heights: “the gentle, moral Edgar Linton of the Grange contrasts with the malevolent and magnetic Heathcliff” (Gordon, 1989: 197). This controversial occasion signifies the existence of two different worlds signified through Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. While Wuthering Heights represents nature involving rivers, trees, rocks, leaves, air, and wind, Thrushcross Grange stands for the modern world of money, greed, and technology. Such a contrast ends up a rivalry in most cases and relatively signifies that characters overcome nature’s dominance through dealing with the other problems in their lives and through being indifferent towards it. The existence of a dualistic structure in their lives implies the endless developing conflicts in these families. Unlike Wuthering Heights, Thrushcross Grange which is situated on a valley is elegant and comfortable and carries none of the grim features of the hills. It is “a splendid place carpeted with crimson, and crimson covered chairs and tables, and a pure white ceiling bordered by gold”8 (Bronte, 1985: 89). With the house and family descriptions, it is clear that even the families as a whole are in conflict with the outside nature. In order to express how characters are strong enough to oppose nature, Emily Bronte uses some supernatural wordings while describing them. To illustrate, as Patricia Ingham also explains, Bronte describes Heathcliff as a wild natural force and replaces him in the supernatural framework (2006: 210). Such explanations are vivid in Wuthering Heights when Bronte describes him as “an incarnate goblin,” “a monster,” “a devilish nature” and “not a human being”. The repetition of the use of such demonic or natural, non-human peculiarities in the novel indicate that the particular characters, such as Heathcliff, are portrayed even more powerful than nature9 (Bronte, 1985: 208-209). Besides, doubts begin to appear as to whether Heathcliff is human at all and people around him become the victim of his inhumanity10 (Sharma, 1994: 43). Heathcliff is depicted as wilder than nature in his natural peculiarities. Outlying hills have basically been portrayed as wild and fearful as well as mystic in its nature. However, Heathcliff has been described as much wilder in his inner nature in Wuthering Heights: “His mouth watered to tear you with his teeth, because he is only half man—not so much and the—and the rest fiend!”11 (Bronte, 1985: 16). At the end of the novel, when Nelly narrates Lockwood about the death of Heathcliff and Catherine, she describes their fearlessness. Bronte explains the focus of their speech: “They are not afraid of nothing,” –even natural forces (Bronte, 1985: 366). It is obvious that such a mystical landscape of the hills stands for the emergence of a tension between the characters and their surroundings. As “unique metaphysical status” interpretation by John Hagan indicates, Heathcliff and Catherine share a unique personality when evaluated in respect to their similarity to the natural environment. This emphasizes that “they are said to be not merely human beings, with recognizably human needs, capabilities and failings, but the embodiment of the special ‘forces,’ ‘energies,’ or ‘principles’.” (Hagan, 1986: 67). They reflect their dangerous and revengeful side through their passion. To compare between Catherine and natural events in some cases, the winds on Wuthering Heights devastate the harmony of nature and Catherine destroys the cosmic unity through her marriage to Linton instead of Heathcliff. Actually, Catherine’s conflicting emotions toward Heathcliff and Linton are reflected as a response to the destructive changing natural elements. Hagan expounds this frustration: [T]he central fact of the novel is that when Catherine betrays her own and Heathcliff’s deepest self by marrying Edgar Linton she creates a disorder in their souls which spreads to the entire society around them.12 Tragically, by her misguided choice of Edgar as her husband, she places herself and Heathcliff in a situation which exacts from each the most atrocious frustration and suffering and, in consequence, brings out the worst in both of them. (1986: 70)