Moral Reconciliation in Wuthering Heights

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In ''Wuthering Heights'' by Emily Bronte, Catherine and Heathcliff do not get their happily ever after per se, but they do find moral reconciliation by the end of the story.

Moral Reconciliation

In lieu of a happy ending for the characters in Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte provides them with moral reconciliation. Moral reconciliation is when the character comes to terms with the internal or external struggle by coming to a realization. Let's talk about some examples of moral reconciliation in the novel.

Catherine Returns to Wuthering Heights

Catherine Earnshaw has an important decision to make that will impact the rest of her life and the lives of those into the next generation. She is in love with her adopted brother, Heathcliff, but a wealthy, handsome boy, Edgar, that lives in nearby Thrushcross Grange has asked her to marry him. Believing that Heathcliff will never be able to provide for her like Edgar can, Catherine makes the decision to go with the money. She tells Nelly, 'And he will be rich, and I shall like to be the greatest woman of the neighbourhood, and I shall be proud of having such a husband.'

However, within a year of marriage, Catherine begins to go mad from her confinement at the Grange. Wishing she could go home, she peeks through her window and imagines she sees Joseph, the servant at the Heights waiting up for her. She tells Nelly, 'He's waiting till I come home that he may lock the gateā€¦But, Heathcliff, if I dare you now, will you venture? If you do, I'll keep you. I'll not lie there by myself: they may bury me twelve feet deep, and throw the church down over me, but I won't rest till you are with me. I never will!' In the end, Catherine knows she should be with Heathcliff and spends her eternity haunting Wuthering Heights, which is her true home.

Heathcliff's Epiphany

Heathcliff has had it rough all his life. He was found on the street by Catherine and Hindley's father, Mr. Earnshaw when he was just seven years old. He was dirty, hungry, and homeless. He enjoys about six years at Wuthering Heights before his adopted brother, Hindley, takes over after the death of Mr. Earnshaw. Resenting Heathcliff for being the favorite, Hindley spends the next three years abusing Heathcliff and treating him as a servant.

Heathcliff is able to withstand the abuse because he has Catherine at his side, but when Catherine decides to marry Edgar, Heathcliff is devastated. From that point forward, Heathcliff makes it his life mission to get revenge against Hindley, Edgar, and Catherine by taking out his anger on the ones they love.

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