In a sense, their love remains immature, since they were only ever "together" as young children. The moments of joy that haunt Heathcliff for the rest of his life occur over just a few pages. Many of them take place as an escape from violence, as in this memory recounted in Catherine's makeshift journal:
"Hindley is a detestable substitute — his conduct to Heathcliff is atrocious—H. and I are going to rebel — we took our initiatory step this evening." ()
And soon after:
"We made ourselves as snug as our means allowed in the arch of the dresser. I had just fastened our pinafores together, and hung them up for a curtain, when in comes Joseph, on an errand from the stables. He tears down my handiwork, boxes my ears, and croaks…" ()
Without her, Heathcliff quickly turns from mythic hero into well-schooled brute.
Heathcliff and Cathy are haunted by each other; each sees the other as inseparable from his or her being. As Catherine tells Nelly Dean:
"Nelly, I am Heathcliff — He's always, always in my mind — not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself — but as my own being — so, don't talk of our separation again: it is impracticable." ()
This confession is one of the novel's most famous lines, because it so poignantly expresses the nature of Heathcliff and Catherine's love: this love is not the stuff of Valentine's Day cards. It's beyond the physical, transcending all else. Heathcliff tells Nelly:
"I cannot look down to this floor, but her features are shaped on the flags! In every cloud, in every tree filling the air at night, and caught by glimpses in every object by day... my own features mock me with a resemblance. The entire world is a dreadful collection of memoranda that she did exist, and that I have lost her." ()
Heathcliff and Cathy see themselves as one and the same, which is interesting considering how big of a deal everyone else makes about Heathcliff's "otherness": his swarthy complexion and low social standing. Cathy doesn't care about any of these differences; her love renders them meaningless.
But this closeness also leads to one of the biggest problems in the novel. Because Catherine considers Heathcliff to be a part of her, she does not see her marriage to Edgar as a separation from Heathcliff. For Heathcliff, though, soulmates should be together . Her death only increases his obsession, and he goes so far to have the sexton dig up her grave so he can catch one last glimpse of her.
While he can be a horrible brute, it's easy to pity Heathcliff. After all, he finds his perfect love and she goes off to marry a stiff like Edgar Linton. Does Brontë intend for us to like Heathcliff? It's hard to tell. Emily's sister Charlotte wrote that "Heathcliff, indeed, stands unredeemed; never once swerving in his arrow-straight course to perdition" (Charlotte Brontë, " Editor's Preface to the New Edition of Wuthering Heights ").
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