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How does Heathcliff's obsession with Catherine manifest itself?

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Introduction

Heathcliff's obsession is shown throughout Wuthering Heights. His obsession is at its strongest when Catherine, the object of his desire, is alive. But Heathcliff's devotion still continues beyond the grave, even after she is dead. Heathcliff is introduced in Nelly's narration as a seven year old Liverpool ward, brought back to Wuthering Heights by Mr Earnshaw. All of the household are cold and discriminate against Heathcliff apart from the master of the house. However, gradually over time Catherine starts to accept him and they become close companions. The first example of how Heathcliff's obsession manifests itself, is in Chapter Six. Heathcliff and Catherine visit Thrushcross Grange and mock the spoilt Linton children. However the Linton's overhear the companions' laughter and set the family dog on them. It bites Catherine and she is taken inside leaving Heathcliff outside. Heathcliff vowed that he would stay outside all night in case Catherine did not like the hospitality and changed her mind. In Chapter Seven, Catherine returned from Thrushcross Grange after five weeks. Heathcliff is shown to be unclean, '...his clothes which had seen three months service in mire and dust, and his thick uncombed hair, the surface of his face and hands were dismally beclouded.' ...read more.

Middle

I did not feel that I was in the company of my own species. Heathcliff asks Catherine, '...Why did you betray your own heart Cathy? ...You loved me then what right had you to leave me?' This shows Heathcliff's emotion and this could mean that he is obsessive, 'What right had you to leave me?' he demands, as if he is her husband. However when he is forced to leave, because of Edgar's return he promises Catherine that he will not, '...stray five yards...' from her window. This reflects the incident at Thrushcross Grange when he promised that he would stay outside all night in case Catherine wished to return. Heathcliff's character is very loyal and even in death he stays nearby to be with the woman he loves so completely. When Heathcliff discovers from Nelly that Catherine is dead, he is devastated and behaves in an animal like manner, which is quite disturbing. 'He dashed his head against the knotted trunk ; and lifting up his eyes, howled, not like a man, but like a savage beast getting goaded to death with knives and spears.' Heathcliff will not let Catherine go, and he wants her to haunt her to haunt him for the rest of his life, because Catherine was the only love he had. ...read more.

Conclusion

he did bring it on himself. After all Heathcliff did ask Catherine to haunt him for the rest of his existence. Heathcliff also adds in her narration that he is scared to close his eyes in case he sees Catherine, '...but always to be disappointed.' Before his death, Heathcliff loses the will to live, partly because he is happy that he will be reunited with Catherine and secondly because Heathcliff does not want to continue his vendetta against the Earnshaw family and Cathy. When Heathcliff does die, Nelly describes him as'...His eyes met mine so keen and fierce...he seemed to smile...' One may assume that his obsession with Catherine and his longing for death was what ultimately killed him. Heathcliff's strange behaviour and mysterious death seems to be the result of his mad obsession with Catherine and the inability to function rationally without her in his life. At some moments in the novel, the reader may feel sorry for Heathcliff as he has never known much affection in his life apart from Catherine. This may be the reason why Heathcliff was driven by his jealous obsession which manifested itself in his very being and the way in which he led his life. ?? ?? ?? ?? How does Heathcliff's obsession with Catherine manifest itself? 1 ...read more.

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