The theme of revenge guides the thoughts and behaviors of Heathcliff and Catherine, shaping their fates. It prevents them from being happy with each other and brings suffering, intrigues, and broken hearts. It also adds dramatism to the novel.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte presents love, class differences, power, violence, and revenge. The novel consists of two parts: before and after the death of Catherine Earnshaw. There are several narrators. Lockwood makes the introduction and conclusion, while Nelly Dean, a servant, tells the central storyline. The role of revenge refers to the destructive behaviors of characters, which make their lives tragic.
Revenge is the leading theme of Wuthering Heights since it guides the actions of protagonists and impacts their fates. Heathcliff seeks vengeance as Catherine chose Edgar Linton to marry. In turn, Heathcliff marries Edgar’s sister, Isabella, making her fall in love with him. She runs away from Wuthering Heights, giving birth to a son. Heathcliff tries to get away from Lintons. Even after Catherine’s death, he calls for her ghost and motivates his son, Linton, to marry Catherine’s daughter.
Vengeance is also shown through Catherine’s jealousy. She mocks him to make him feel worse, which brings hatred and savagery. While dying, Catherine says that Heathcliff is her “murderer” and that he is to blame for her melancholy. She understands that revenge does not remedy the situation. Heathcliff also calms down only once he has abandoned the plans for vengeance. This character reaches happiness before death, recognizing that evil cannot make things better. The events and feelings between Heathcliff and Catherine consist of love and revenge. The lovers become able to reconnect after their deaths.
The theme reveals through the cycles of hatred of minor characters as well. For example, Hindley does not treat Heathcliff as a brother. He prevents the orphan from obtaining an education. In turn, Heathcliff does the same to Hareton, Hindley’s son. Cathy understands that revenge brings Heathcliff some joy. This fact makes him miserable in her eyes. Despite her sympathetic character and strong will, the girl is jealous and snobbish to Hareton. Thus, revenge is the key idea of the novel that impacts all the characters.
The two characters desperately love each other. Still, they cannot be together because of their desire for vengeance. Neither Heathcliff’s revenge nor Catherine’s one brings peace and relief. By showing revenge in her novel, the author wanted to deliver an important message to her readers. Revenge makes any life counter-productive and complicated. It hurts not only the victims but also the one who seeks vengeance. The characters’ ways to solve conflicts are destructive since they only aggravate their problems. Bronte urges us to look for other ways to build ties and keep aside from spontaneous reactions.