Polished Wuthering Heights Novel Study

Choice and Isolation

What idea does the author develop regarding isolation?

Isolation is an inevitable factor in an individual’s life, nonetheless, an individual  has the freedom to chose between the neglectance or acceptance of this particular trait. In Emily Bronte’s, Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff and Hareton are two contrasting examples as to how an individual may act when faced with isolation. Initially, Heathcliff and Hareton were both treated with neglectance and isolation – Heathcliff was an outcast and Hareton was shoved aside to be forgotten about. Despite this, these two characters approached isolation in a dramatically different way: refusing to accept companionship after Catherine’s death, Heathcliff chose to further immerse himself within isolation. On the contrary, Hareton developed a sense of hope, upon meeting Cathy, he grew determined to detach himself from his isolation. In other words, these two characters were burdened with similar treatment, the way in which they chose to face this factor is what truly differentiates them – an individual has the ability to chose one’s involvement with isolation regardless of the initial circumstances in which one was born.

Heathcliff, a “gypsy” and a orphan, was brought to Wuthering Heights by Mr. Earnshaw – instead of acceptance from the Earnshaws, Heathcliff was deeply neglected in result of his physical and mental differences. He realizes that he will never fit in with the Earnshaw family and their “fair complexions” while his language is “gibberish” and his dark demeanor an “imp of Satan”. This act of neglectance forced Heathcliff into a state of isolation, he was alone in the world and had no one to turn to – one could argue this time period had a great impact on Heathcliff’s future. Years later, blinded by hate and revenge on the Earnshaws, Heathcliff retreats further into isolation refusing to accept companionship, convincing himself that he will be satisfied in the end. A rare moment in which Heathcliff openly expressed how mentally and physically isolated he was, was when he was a little child, he says, “ I wish I had light hair and fair skin, and was dressed, and behaved as well, and had a chance of being as rich as will be!” (Bronte 56). Through this quote, Heathcliff expressed a certain degree of vulnerability, not only is his true feelings exemplified through this quote, but he is admitting to his own envious dreams – he is recognizing the factors that distinct him from his adoptive family, this is a quality that he no longer expresses when he’s a grown man. In short, Heathcliff had a choice to chose the neglectance or acceptance of isolation, blinded by venom from childhood treatment, he chose to further immerse himself in isolation, thus, resulting in his downfall.

Initially, raised by a drunken father and a abusive uncle, Hareton was locked up in his own house deemed to be worthless and dumb. Although he was undoubtedly overcome with isolation in a situation worse than Heathcliff’s, his future was much brighter than his uncles. In spite of Heathcliff’s childhood neglectance, he inflicts the behaviour of his childhood upon Hareton. The result of this is not the same, Hareton’s character is much stronger, alongside that, Hareton had something Heathcliff did not have – Cathy. A single spark of hope. A significant passage in this book was after Hindley’s death, Heathcliff compares Hareton to Hindley and himself to the wind, he says, “And we’ll see if one tree won’t grow as crooked as another, with the same wind to twist it!” (Bronte 119). Through this quote, Heathcliff communicates to the readers that he is still absorbed in his own isolation and hatred, he is hoping to turn Hareton into the man he has become. But in the end, instead of accepting his isolation, Hareton made a choice to overcome it – to become a different man than Heathcliff. With that brings a new light, a spark of hope.

An individual can overcome one’s past circumstances of isolation due the power of choice; to neglect feelings of isolation rather than submerging into feelings of indifference. In Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, the characters Heathcliff and Hareton exemplify that there are two different routes in which an individual can take regarding the approach of isolation both resulting in different conclusions. Heathcliff allowed childhood hate and revenge to lead him to feelings of isolation thus, he had no sense of direction – he lived a very depressing life. Whereas Hareton overcame all feelings of isolation and overcame his obstacles, he and Cathy are slivers of hope for the Earnshaw and Linton families. Throughout an individual’s life, one will always face the inevitable feeling of isolation, it is up to one to choose their own destiny and overcome this destructive quality.

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