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Free Study Guide-Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte-Free BookNotes
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CONFLICT

The conflict of Wuthering Heights must be viewed on two levels:

Level 1 - Heathcliff's story

Protagonist

The main protagonist of the novel is Heathcliff, who was an orphan brought home to live at Wuthering Heights. From the beginning, he was a "sullen, patient child; hardened perhaps to ill-treatment." As he grew, he became even more dark, morose, and gypsy-like, introducing strife into the peaceful lives of the Earnshaws and the Lintons.

During the novel, Heathcliff is described as "rough as a saw- edge and hard as a whinstone." His presence, like some brooding spirit of evil, darkly overshadows the events of the whole story.

Antagonists

Heathcliff's antagonists are all the evil and demonic forces within him, especially his vengefulness. Throughout the book, he is always plotting to get revenge for the poor treatment he has received from various characters, such as the jealous and brutalizing Hindley, the sulking Edgar Linton, the ambitious and ferociously intense Catherine, and the infatuation-driven and foolish Isabella Linton.


Climax

The climax for Heathcliff is reached in the novel with the death of Catherine. She has been the driving force of his life and his reason for living. After her death, he only wants vengeance for all the wrongs done to him.

Outcome

Heathcliff's story ends in tragedy. At the end of the book, he dies a pathetic, lonely, and bitter man.

Level 2 - The tale as a love story

Protagonist

Viewed as a tale that is bigger that Heathcliff, the protagonist of the novel becomes the idea of love, in its true and purest form.

Antagonists

The antagonists to true love are all the things in the novel that stand between two lovers committing themselves to one another. Although Heathcliff and Catherine passionately profess their love to one another, they are separated because Catherine has chosen to marry Edgar, a man who is more polished and civilized than Heathcliff. The younger Cathy is forced by Heathcliff to marry Linton, whom she does not love. By the end of the novel, however, she falls in love with and marries Hareton.

Climax

The climax occurs when Cathy and Hareton pledge their love to one another, proving that true love can conquer many obstacles.

Outcome

At this level, the novel ends in comedy, for it is shown that love can overcome its antagonists in life. The novel ends happily when Hareton and the young Cathy marry, vacate the grim house on the Heights, and move to the Grange. Through their love, many of the novel's painful conflicts are resolved. At the end of the novel, Catherine and Heathcliff also are eternally united through death.

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Free Study Guide-Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte-Free Plot Summary
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