Wuthering Heights

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Themes and Colors
Gothic Literature and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Nature and Civilization Theme Icon
Love and Passion Theme Icon
Masculinity and Femininity Theme Icon
Class Theme Icon
Revenge and Repetition Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Wuthering Heights, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Love and Passion Theme Icon

Wuthering Heights explores a variety of kinds of love. Loves on display in the novel include Heathcliff and Catherine's all-consuming passion for each other, which while noble in its purity is also terribly destructive. In contract, the love between Catherine and Edgar is proper and civilized rather than passionate. Theirs is a love of peace and comfort, a socially acceptable love, but it can't stand in the way of Heathcliff and Catherine's more profound (and more violent) connection.

The love between Cathy and Linton is a grotesque exaggeration of that between Catherine and Edgar. While Catherine always seems just a bit too strong for Edgar, Cathy and Linton's love is founded on Linton's weakness—Linton gets Cathy to love him by playing on her desire to protect and mother him. Finally, there's the love between Cathy and Hareton, which seems to balance the traits of the other loves on display. They have the passion of Catherine and Heathcliff without the destructiveness, and the gentleness shared by Edgar and Catherine without the dullness or inequality in power.

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Love and Passion Quotes in Wuthering Heights

Below you will find the important quotes in Wuthering Heights related to the theme of Love and Passion.
Chapter 3 Quotes
The ledge, where I placed my candle, had a few mildewed books piled up in one corner; and it was covered with writing scratched on the paint. This writing, however, was nothing but a name repeated in all kinds of characters, large and small—Catherine Earnshaw, here and there varied to Catherine Heathcliff, and then again to Catherine Linton.
Related Characters: Mr. Lockwood (speaker), Catherine Earnshaw Linton, Heathcliff, Edgar Linton
Related Symbols: Wuthering Heights
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

Having attempted to leave Wuthering Heights after an unsettling dinner, Lockwood is attacked by the dogs and suffers a nosebleed, forcing him to stay the night in a bedroom that Heathcliff does not normally let anyone use. Describing the room, Lockwood notes that it is damp and fairly empty, and on the window ledge he notices multiple versions of Catherine's name scratched onto the paint. The name signals that, as Lockwood will soon find out, the room is haunted by the ghost of Catherine. 

The fact that there are three different versions of Catherine's name––with the different surnames Earnshaw, Heathcliff, and Linton––highlights the legacy of Catherine's passionate and fickle emotions. At the same time, the names also emphasize the fractured nature of women's identities in the 19th century. When a woman married, she gained not only a new spouse and lifestyle but also essentially became a different person, with a new name and identity. The decision of who to marry was thus of pivotal importance for women, and Catherine's conflict over who to choose was thus inevitably tied to an identity crisis about who she was. Lockwood's description of her handwriting––"all kinds of letters, large and small"––further conveys this sense of inner conflict and turmoil. 

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Chapter 9 Quotes
I've no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in heaven; and if the wicked man in there had not brought Heathcliff so low, I shouldn't have thought of it. It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him; and that, not because he's handsome, Nelly, but because he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same, and [Edgar's] is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.
Related Characters: Catherine Earnshaw Linton (speaker), Heathcliff, Edgar Linton
Related Symbols: The Weather
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:

Catherine confides her conflicted thoughts about Edgar and Heathcliff to Nelly, unaware that Heathcliff is listening. After Catherine admits that it would "degrade" her to marry Heathcliff, Heathcliff leaves, and thus does not hear her confess that she loves him and that their souls are the same. This passage is pivotally important in the novel, because if Heathcliff had chosen to leave even a moment later he and Catherine might have ended up marrying after all. Such timing adds to the tragic drama of the plot. It also provokes the question of why Nelly chose not to intervene and explain to Catherine that Heathcliff had been listening. 

Catherine's words illuminate the mystical, uncanny nature of hers and Heathcliff's relationship. The statement that she loves him "because he's more myself than I am" has an eerie resonance considering they are technically brother and sister. It also illustrates the ways in which Catherine and Heathcliff's characters blur the boundaries of masculine and feminine, self and other.

Once again, nature is invoked to describe the fundamental differences between people. The suggestion that Catherine and Heathcliff's souls are made of "lightning" and "fire" indicates the fierce and destructive power of their love.

Nelly, I see now, you think me a selfish wretch; but did it never strike you that if Heathcliff and I married we should be beggars? whereas, if I marry Linton, I can aid Heathcliff to rise, and place him out of my brother's power?
Related Characters: Catherine Earnshaw Linton (speaker), Ellen "Nelly" Dean, Hindley Earnshaw, Heathcliff, Edgar Linton
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

Catherine continues to reveal her thoughts to Nelly, explaining that she feels that she must marry Edgar in order to rescue Heathcliff from Hindley. This speech challenges the impression that Catherine has taken a liking to Edgar because she is fickle or drawn to his elegant lifestyle; at least according to her, she marries him because she hopes that it will enable her to help stop Hindley's vengeful treatment of Heathcliff. Such a choice illustrates the highly limited agency of women at the time. Without attaching herself to Edgar, Catherine is powerless to help Heathcliff. Indeed, the main part of what keeps Catherine and Heathcliff apart is the economic class system that restricts the freedom of certain people while giving others unlimited authority.

My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods; time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath—a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff!
Related Characters: Catherine Earnshaw Linton (speaker), Ellen "Nelly" Dean, Heathcliff, Edgar Linton
Related Symbols: The Weather
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, one of the most famous of the novel, Catherine compares her relationships with Edgar and Heathcliff to different aspects of nature, concluding that her love for Heathcliff is permanent, and even declaring that she herself is Heathcliff. By comparing her feelings for Edgar to foliage, Catherine does not disparage these feelings, and the metaphor suggests that her relationship with Edgar will be more pleasant and prosperous than a marriage to Heathcliff could possibly be. 

At the same time, Catherine's description of her love for Heathcliff as resembling "the eternal rocks beneath" hints that their union is essential and fated. This sense of inevitability implies that––despite all that keeps them apart––they are destined to be together, and Catherine's mention of the rocks beneath prefigures the ending of the novel when she and Heathcliff are buried in the same place, finally together and at peace. 

The phrase "I am Heathcliff" is remarkable, and can be interpreted in a number of ways. On one level it might be considered the ultimate romantic statement, representing the absolute union of two people. On the other hand, it is also somewhat sinister and uncanny, especially situated in a novel that includes ghosts, doubles, and incestuous love. Such a declaration would have been especially alarming to Victorian readers, who would find it extremely strange for a woman to be saying that she is the man she loves. 

Chapter 11 Quotes
Well, if I cannot keep Heathcliff for my friend—if Edgar will be mean and jealous, I'll try to break their hearts by breaking my own. That will be a prompt way of finishing all, when I am pushed to extremity!
Related Characters: Catherine Earnshaw Linton (speaker), Heathcliff, Edgar Linton
Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:

Edgar has broken up a fight between Catherine and Heathcliff by forcing Heathcliff to leave Thrushcross Grange, and in response Catherine throws a tantrum to Nelly, threatening to make herself ill if she is prevented from seeing Heathcliff. During this speech Catherine in many ways resembles a child, refusing to compromise or concede that her demands might be unreasonable and selfish. Also like a child, Catherine has very little authority or control over her life because she is a woman, and as a result she sees harming herself as the only way to influence the situation.

As it turns out, this strategy is highly effective, and Catherine does end up gaining power over the others through this tactic of manipulation. Her childishness and stubbornness in this section of the novel are reminiscent of the ghost's tiny hand, which will not let go of Lockwood until it gets what it wants. 

Chapter 15 Quotes
You teach me how cruel you've been—cruel and false. Why do you despise me? Why did you betray your own heart, Cathy? I have not one word of comfort. You deserve this. You have killed yourself. Yes, you may kiss me, and cry, and wring out my kisses and tears; they'll blight you—they'll damn you. You loved me—then what right had you to leave me? What right—answer me—for the poor fancy you felt for Linton? Because misery, and degradation and death, and nothing that God or Satan could inflict would have parted us, you, of your own will, did it. I have not broken your heart—you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine.
Related Characters: Heathcliff (speaker), Catherine Earnshaw Linton
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:

Catherine, who is dying, has agreed to see Heathcliff for the first time since Edgar separated them and since she has grown ill. During their conversation, Catherine and Heathcliff express both their anger and enduring love for each other. It is clear that they feel deeply resentful of one another, blaming the other for their separation. Heathcliff's words reflect one of the key themes in Wuthering Heights: that when people behave cruelly, there is usually a reason behind it. Bronte suggests that most of the time cruel behavior is motivated by pain, powerlessness, and the subsequent desire for revenge. 

Heathcliff's speech also illuminates the eerie power of his and Catherine's love. This power is shown to be greater than "God or Satan," and in saying that even death would not have separated them, Heathcliff confirms the idea that his and Catherine's love is eternal, almost supernaturally disrupting the barrier between the dead and living. Furthermore, his comment that by breaking her own heart, Catherine has also broken his, emphasizes the notion that they are supernaturally connected to the point that they are the same person. Heathcliff's reference to Catherine's will is also important, as Catherine's stubborn willpower is a recurring motif within the novel. It is important to note, however, that Heathcliff misunderstands her actions; he cannot see that she chose to marry Edgar in order to help Heathcliff escape Hindley. 

I forgive what you have done to me. I love my murderer—but yours! How can I?
Related Characters: Heathcliff (speaker), Catherine Earnshaw Linton
Page Number: 185
Explanation and Analysis:

On her deathbed, Catherine begs Heathcliff to forgive her; he responds by saying that he forgives what she has done to him but not what she has done to herself. It is due to Catherine's own willpower, after all, that she ended up falling ill by self-starvation. Heathcliff's dramatic language blurs the line between sentiment and reality; Catherine has literally murdered herself, but Heathcliff's murder in this passage is only figurative, because he does not wish to live without her. This ambiguity also confirms the eerie, supernatural idea that Catherine and Heathcliff are in fact one person.

Heathcliff's words reflect the complicated doubling between his character and Catherine, and a sense of Catherine's fractured personality. He says he loves his own murderer––Catherine––but that he cannot forgive Catherine's murderer––who is, of course, also Catherine! The notion that Catherine has multiple identities is reminiscent of the moment when Lockwood discovers the three different versions of her name scratched into the wall. Bronte implies that, through Catherine's stubborn struggle against the limits imposed on her by society, her personality becomes fractured.

Chapter 16 Quotes
Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living! You said I killed you—haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murderers. I believe—I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always—take any form—drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh God! it is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!
Related Characters: Heathcliff (speaker), Catherine Earnshaw Linton
Page Number: 191-192
Explanation and Analysis:

Catherine has died giving birth to Cathy, and Heathcliff, devastated, demands that her ghost haunt him. Again, his speech is filled with a mix of love and resentment; he cries that he cannot live without her, yet selfishly does not want her soul to rest while he is alive, insisting that she haunt him until he dies. On one level, Heathcliff's despair can be interpreted as extremely romantic, as it is clear that Catherine meant everything to him ("I cannot live without my life!"). 

On the other hand, this passage shows Catherine and Heathcliff's relationship to be dark and disturbing in its intensity. Heathcliff's passion for Catherine is so fierce that he wishes to be driven mad by her. This presents a view of romantic love as a destructive, destabilizing force, and one that is ultimately rather selfish. 

Finally, Heathcliff's claim to know that "ghosts have wandered the earth" emphasizes the supernatural, gothic side of Wuthering Heights. As the reader knows from the opening of the novel, Catherine's ghost does come to haunt Heathcliff and drive him mad; this speech can therefore be seen as a kind of conjuring, foreshadowing events that we know will come later in the story. 

Chapter 17 Quotes
I've recovered from my first desire to be killed by him-I'd rather he'd kill himself! He has extinguished my love effectually, and so I'm at my ease.
Related Characters: Isabella Linton (speaker), Heathcliff
Page Number: 197
Explanation and Analysis:

Isabella, soaking wet and dishevelled, has arrived at Wuthering Heights in a crazed mood. She announces to Nelly that Heathcliff has "extinguished" her love for him and that she plans to run away from Thruschcross Grange, believing that Heathcliff wouldn't bother following her. The change Isabella has undergone is striking; introduced in the novel as a model of civilized, refined femininity, she now seems wild, fearless, and unhinged, highly reminiscent of Catherine. Isabella emphasizes this total transformation with the words "recovered" and "extinguished." Although she hardly seems happy, the phrase "at ease" suggests she has found a kind of freedom in relinquishing her emotional attachment to Heathcliff.

This passage is also striking for its mention of violence. It would have been strange to hear Isabella speaking of murder and suicide at an earlier point in the novel, but life at Wuthering Heights has clearly had a menacing effect on her. Once again, Bronte presents love and death as intimately connected, suggesting that passionate love inevitably leads to a desire for death. 

Chapter 20 Quotes
My son is prospective owner of your place, and I should not wish him to die till I was certain of being his successor. Besides he's mine, and I want the triumph of seeing my descendant fairly lord of their estates: my child hiring their children to till their father's land for wages. That is the sole consideration which can make me endure the whelp: I despise him for himself, and hate him for the memories he revives!
Related Characters: Heathcliff (speaker), Edgar Linton, Linton Heathcliff
Related Symbols: Wuthering Heights, Thrushcross Grange
Page Number: 238
Explanation and Analysis:

Nelly has tried to reassure Linton that he shouldn't be afraid of his father, but Heathcliff turns out to behave incredibly cruelly towards his son, treating him in the same hateful way as he treated Edgar and Isabella. Linton resembles Edgar in his looks and demeanor, and doesn't seem to bear any similarity to Heathcliff at all. This makes it even more disturbing that Heathcliff is so insistent on the hereditary connection between him and Linton, emphasizing this relationship with the words "my son," "mine," "my descendent," and "my son." Clearly, Heathcliff wishes to enact his revenge through Linton; indeed, Heathcliff himself admits that this is the only reason why he tolerates Linton's presence. 

This passage thus confirms the importance of vengeance in the novel, and specifically reveals how Heathcliff wishes to overcome the humiliation he experienced through his class position by seeing Linton become the owner of Thrushcross Grange. The fact that he describes Linton as belonging to him suggests that he sees Linton himself as property, akin to the properties of Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights. 

Chapter 24 Quotes
One time, however, we were near quarrelling. He said the pleasantest manner of spending a hot July day was lying from morning till evening on a bank of heath in the middle of the moors, with the bees humming dreamily about among the bloom, and the larks singing high up overhead, and the blue sky and bright sun shining steadily and cloudlessly. That was his most perfect idea of heaven's happiness: mine was rocking in a rustling green tree, with a west wind blowing, and bright white clouds flitting rapidly above; and not only larks, but throstles, and blackbirds, and linnets, and cuckoos pouring out music on every side, and the moors seen at a distance, broken into cool dusky dells; but close by great swells of long grass undulating in waves to the breeze; and woods and sounding water, and the whole world awake and wild with joy. He wanted all to lie in an ecstasy of peace; I wanted all to sparkle and dance in a glorious jubilee. I said his heaven would be only half alive; and he said mine would be drunk: I said I should fall asleep in his; and he said he could not breathe in mine.
Related Characters: Catherine/Cathy Linton Heathcliff Earnshaw (speaker), Linton Heathcliff
Related Symbols: The Weather
Page Number: 283
Explanation and Analysis:

Cathy has confessed to Nelly that she secretly spends time with Linton and enjoys his company; in contrast to the bitter hatred between their parents, they get along well. She describes a mild disagreement they had over their respective visions of heaven: Linton dreams of a peaceful, summery day, while Cathy prefers the idea of a lively, blustery scene, similar to the Yorkshire moors. Once again, Bronte represents her characters' personalities through descriptions of the natural landscape. Linton is shown to be serene and quiet, reflective of his non-threatening, shy, feminine character. Cathy, on the other hand, resembles her mother in her love of the harsh Yorkshire outdoors, representative of her inner wildness. 

This depiction of Cathy is also reminiscent of her mother Catherine's contrary beliefs about happiness and the afterlife. Earlier in the novel, Catherine tells Nelly that she has "no business being in heaven," with the parallel implication that she has "no business" marrying Edgar and adopting his pleasant, refined lifestyle. Instead, Catherine believes she ultimately belongs with Heathcliff; her version of heaven (like her daughter's) resembles the rugged, stormy moors, and indeed that is where she ends up after death––haunting Wuthering Heights and Heathcliff. 

Chapter 29 Quotes
I got the sexton, who was digging Linton's grave, to remove the earth off her coffin lid, and I opened it. I thought, once, I would have stayed there, when I saw her face again—it is hers yet—he had hard work to stir me; but he said it would change, if the air blew on it, and so I struck one side of the coffin loose, and covered it up—not Linton's side, damn him! I wish he'd been soldered in lead—and I bribed the sexton to pull it away, when I'm laid there, and slide mine out too. I'll have it made so, and then, by the time Linton gets to us, he'll not know which is which!"
Related Characters: Heathcliff (speaker), Catherine Earnshaw Linton, Edgar Linton
Page Number: 329
Explanation and Analysis:

Edgar Linton has died, and Heathcliff tells Nelly that he bribed the sexton burying Edgar's body to open Catherine's coffin and promise to eventually bury Heathcliff beside her. This is one of the most morbid moments in the novel, where Heathcliff's desire to be with Catherine's dead body has somewhat necrophilic overtones. Heathcliff's longing for Catherine literally becomes a longing for death. This passage also confirms the importance of death as the moment when Catherine and Heathcliff's union will finally be unchallenged, and Heathcliff's hope is that their remains will literally become one, indistinguishable from each other.

This passage also shows again how Heathcliff's passion extends both towards love for Catherine and vengefulness towards those whom he feels have wronged him. Thus his tampering with Catherine's grave is not just a morbid desire for union with his lost beloved, but also a spiteful gesture towards the recently-deceased Edgar.

Chapter 32 Quotes
The task was done, not free from further blunders; but the pupil claimed a reward, and received at least five kisses; which, however, he generously returned. Then they came to the door, and from their conversation I judged they were about to issue out and have a walk on the moors.
Related Characters: Mr. Lockwood (speaker), Catherine/Cathy Linton Heathcliff Earnshaw, Hareton Earnshaw
Page Number: 351
Explanation and Analysis:

Cathy has been taking care of Hareton while he recovers from a shooting accident, including teaching him to read. While previously Cathy has acted cruelly toward Hareton, making fun of his illiteracy, this part of the book represents a transformation in their relationship. (Indeed, the transformation is so total that at first Lockwood does not even recognize this "pupil" as Hareton, and only understands the situation once Nelly explains it to him.) The newly mature Cathy has seen that her previous behavior was unfair, and she and Hareton come to love each other in a way very unlike Catherine and Heathcliff's love; unlike the older generation, Cathy and Hareton's relationship is gentle, productive, and viable. There is, of course, still a major similarity between Cathy and Hareton's relationship and that of Catherine and Heathcliff, though: despite the stark differences between them, they are united by their love of the wild moors. 

In many ways, this union is possible because Cathy stops looking down on Hareton and comes to see him as her equal. At the same time, she nonetheless remains in an authoritative position as his teacher and caregiver, and her dominance subtly reverses the expected power dynamic between a man and woman. Note the similarity between the love born in this situation and the story of Jane Eyre, written by Emily Bronte's sister, Charlotte: in that novel, Mr. Rochester is at first cruel to Jane, but when he becomes blind and Jane has to care for him, they fall in love. 

Chapter 33 Quotes
'It is a poor conclusion, is it not?' he observed, having brooded awhile on the scene he had just witnessed: 'an absurd termination to my violent exertions? I get levers and mattocks to demolish the two houses, and train myself to be capable of working like Hercules, and when everything is ready and in my power, I find the will to lift a slate off either roof has vanished! My old enemies have not beaten me; now would be the precise time to revenge myself on their representatives: I could do it; and none could hinder me. But where is the use? I don't care for striking: I can't take the trouble to raise my hand! That sounds as if I had been labouring the whole time only to exhibit a fine trait of magnanimity. It is far from being the case: I have lost the faculty of enjoying their destruction, and I am too idle to destroy for nothing.
Related Characters: Heathcliff (speaker)
Related Symbols: Wuthering Heights, Thrushcross Grange
Page Number: 369
Explanation and Analysis:

Heathcliff and Cathy have argued about her inheritance and her relationship with Hareton. Heathcliff almost hits her, but is stopped by the fact that Cathy's eyes remind him of his beloved Catherine. In this speech, he reflects on the fact that his violent thirst for vengeance is steadily dissolving. He expresses mixed feelings about this: he is frustrated that all the work he put towards revenge is for nothing, but can't deny that he no longer sees any point in destroying the lives of his enemies.

Here Bronte avoids presenting too neat a resolution or happy ending. Heathcliff himself maintains that he has not suddenly become "magnanimous"––indeed, this would contradict everything we know about his personality––but simply declares that he no longer cares about getting revenge. This sense of exhaustion foreshadows the fact that Heathcliff will soon die, and that both he and the other characters will finally be left at peace.  

Chapter 34 Quotes
Last night, I was on the threshold of hell. To-day, I am within sight of my heaven. I have my eyes on it: hardly three feet to sever me!
Related Characters: Heathcliff (speaker), Catherine Earnshaw Linton
Page Number: 375
Explanation and Analysis:

Nelly has brought Heathcliff his lunch, but he has refused it, saying that he wants to be alone. Nelly asks why Heathcliff is acting so strangely, and he tells her that he is "within sight of my heaven," meaning he knows he will soon die and be reunited with Catherine. Bronte's presentation of Heathcliff in his final days is more sympathetic than his depiction in the rest of the novel. For the first time, he experiences joy, and does not behave aggressively to the other characters (as long as they leave him alone). This highlights Heathcliff's contrary nature; while most people would approach their own death with feelings of sadness or fear, Heathcliff is ecstatic. Such a paradox confirms that Heathcliff's only desire is to be with Catherine. Again, the themes of love and death are inextricably linked.

The fact that Heathcliff uses the phrase "my heaven" and not just "heaven" emphasizes the recurring idea that each person has their own idea of heaven, and what is heaven to one person might be hell to another. Though a fairly accepted principle in today's world, this notion would have been controversial in Bronte's time. Heathcliff's rejection of the concept of a Christian heaven in favor of simply being with Catherine would have seemed heretical. Within Christianity, death and heaven bring the opportunity to be united with God; thus Heathcliff's excitement at his impending death suggests that to him, Catherine has replaced God. This reflects the novel's gothic exploration of supernaturally powerful love.