To anybody who's read Wuthering Heights: are Catherine and Heathcliff (half) siblingsWatch this thread
I was re-reading it again last night and something struck me. I thought I found the underlying principle of the novel (ground-breaking, I know) but alas, I searched the internet and it's been theoreticised numerous times before.
Basically, when Earnshaw refers to Heathcliff as a "Gift from God" is this admission that Heathcliff is his illegitimate son? Therefore, Cathy and Heathcliff would be half siblings making their relationship contrary to religious "rules", which may be an explanation for the complete failure of their relationship throughout the novel.
Basically, when Earnshaw refers to Heathcliff as a "Gift from God" is this admission that Heathcliff is his illegitimate son?
You can read it that way, but I wouldn't say that it's the only possible reading. I'd say the fact that Heathcliff initially only speaks in what appears to be a foreign language and is in a fairly miserable state, along with Mrs Dean's reference to old Mr Earnshaw's "kind heart" suggests that the story he tells to his family is likely to be true. As for the phrase "you must e'en take it as a gift of God", that's really just a way of saying "we'll just have to put up with him", no? And that statement would make sense even if he had just picked him up on a whim.
What I'm getting at is; if we take this theory as true nothing is left out. Everything can be explained, and as such, it may be the "formula" (if you agree with finding a formula in a novel) of the novel. Obviously, I know it's only one interpretation but I think it's one that could hold a lot of ground if it went mainstream.
I'm going to argue it in an essay anyway, because things are getting a little boring.
Heathcliff's gypsy/foreign inheritance could have come to him through his mother.
The failure of Heathcliff and Cathy's relationship probably has less to do with breaking rules than the fact that they're both slightly insane. Well, "slightly" is an understatement in Heathcliff's case. But look at Cathy's marriage to Edgar - she's not being forced into it. It's not as though she's reluctantly conforming to the rules of society by agreeing to marry him. Heathcliff is an option, but she doesn't choose him, and of course it all goes downhill from there. Because Heathcliff and Cathy are such extreme characters it's tempting to blame the failure of their relationship on the fact that they're going against society or something like that, but ultimately, I think they're self-destructive.