Anna Karenina And Wuthering Heights Essay Examples
In this particular passage of Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff describes to Nelly the twisted plan he has for himself when he dies next to Catherine; this particular passage demonstrates not only Catherine’s antipathy for the whole affair, but adds a further dimension to Healthcliff’s cruelty. At the beginning of the passage, Catherine effectively gives up on trying to love Healthcliff and his family, indicating a “dreary triumph” and simply being content in “draw[ing] pleasure from the griefs of her enemies” (Bronte 301). Punctuating the highly emotional and short snipes of Catherine and the father-in-law is Heathcliff’s long paragraph gleefully describing how he had the coffin lid of Catherine’s grave removed so he might decompose along with her once he dies. Brontee writes Heathcliff’s words with a particular malice, using exclamation points and hyphens to emphasize his macabre excitement and scattershot mental processes. His long monologues, as compared to Nelly’s short entreaties, shows him to be somewhat insane and prone to histrionics, which makes him look even more insane.
This passage is incredibly important for the development of the story altogether, as well as its themes of love, obsession and attachment. Heathcliff, as disturbed an individual as he is, is incredibly morbid and can only find peace through being as close to his dead wife as he can be: “I dreamt I was sleeping the last sleep by that sleeper, with my heart stopped and my cheek frozen against hers” (302). In this way, Heathcliff attempts to gain power over everyone else and Wuthering Heights itself, this desire to be close to Catherine even in death (Hafley 201). However, he does refer to her as an object, not as a person, when he opens up the coffin, he notes that he saw “her face again,” not necessarily her, separating the person from the body they possessed (302).
This scene, in particular, is a grotesque and macabre one, but one which touches on the grander connection we have to people we love, even after they are gone. In amongst Heathcliff’s selfish grabs for power, contrasted with Catherine’s own impotent desire to leave her enemies alone and leave them to their devices, we see the fundamental need to be close to those we love and wish to possess/be a part of. When he says he will dissolve with her, this will make him “more happy still!”, linking this sense of true love and happiness with the unifying idea of death, which happens to all of us (302). Through this, Heathcliff, in his own twisted way, simply wants to assert his affection for Catherine.
This passage from Anna Karenina sees the aftermath of her affair with Vronsky in the boudoir, something which shakes her to the core. Of particular interest to Tolstoy in this passage is the fact that this affair is something that both parties have dreamt about, something that could get them away from the doldrums of their repressed lust for each other. For Anna, it is said that this is “an impossible, dreadful, but all the more bewitching dream of happiness,” but as soon as the deed is actually done she is overwhelmed with guilt (Tolstoy 148). This, in turn, makes Vronsky feel guilty, as he only wanted to bring pleasure and happiness to Anna; however, this same sickness of guilt is transferred to him. Instead of feeling pleasure at starting an affair with the woman he loves, “He felt what a murderer must feel when looking at the body he has deprived of life“ (148). Even in the aftermath of the affair, after some time, Anna still fantasized about the affair, trying to reconcile her lover and her husband in obligation:“She dreamt that both at once were her husbands, and lavished their caresses on her” (149). In this way, the conflict between the idyllic love scenario she would like to have and the crushing weight of grief and the practicalities of reality prevents her from truly enjoying it.
Tolstoy frequently describes what Anna feels as ‘guilt’ and ‘horror,’ and even admits that his vocabulary is not sufficient to explain what she is feeling: “she still could not find words to describe all the complexity of those feelings” (149). This passage, and the heightened emotionality of Anna’s mental state, illustrates the incredible grip that notions of fidelity and loyalty have on Anna, even to the detriment of her own happiness (Herman 23). Anna, throughout the scene, is conflicted between wanting Vronsky and hating herself for wanting Vronsky. Even her mind, in dreams, tries to reconcile the two ideas by building a life with both of her men, but even this does not work. This is an idea that speaks beyond the limits of the book’s story, touching on themes of guilt, forbidden love, and the cruelty of societal expectations that keep us from being truly happy. The complex nature of romance and Russian society prevents Anna from being able to live her life with the man she loves without social norms crippling her sense of adventure and happiness.
Bronte, Emily. Wuthering Heights. Oxford University Press, 2008.
Hafley, James. "The Villain in Wuthering Heights." Nineteenth-Century Fiction (1958): 199-
Herman, David. "Stricken by Infection: Art and Adultery in Anna Karenina and Kreutzer
Sonata." Slavic Review (1997): 15-36.
Tolstoy, Leo. Anna Karenina. Penguin Books, 1997.
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