ON THE CAUSES OF TRAGEDY IN WUTHERING HEIGHTS
This paper first analyzes the embodiment of the tragedy in Wuthering Heights : the love tragedy between hero and heroin. It then explores the causes of tragedy in two respects；internal causes and external causes. Internal causes include two main parts: hero’s extreme and stubborn character and heroin’s complicated nature. External causes consist of the influence from surrounding people and social conditions. It suggests that surrounding people have a great influence on the formation of hero and heroin’s characters and senses of worth. It contends that on the basis of social conditions, Wuthering Heights highlights more human elements which is to be discussed in this paper at a closer range.
Keywords：tragedy; human elements; civilization
2. Embodiments of the love tragedy 2
3. Internal causes of the tragedy 4
3.1 Catherine’s complicated nature 4
3.1.1 Escapism for the born nature of herself 4
3.1.2 Selfishness on love 6
3.1.3 Persistence of true love from heart 7
3.2 Heathcliff’s stubborn and extreme character 7
4. External causes of the tragedy 11
4.1 Influences from surrounding people 11
4.1.1 Hindley’s influences on the formation of Heathcliff’s Character 11
4.2 Social conditions 13
Wuthering Heights, the masterpiece by Emily Bronte, is considered as one of the representative works of English literature. It depicts the readers a passionate and impressive story about love and hatred in Victorian Age which lead to the tragedies that are best described by the love tragedy between hero and heroine.
Now considered a classic of English literature, Wuthering Heights met with mixed reviews by critics when it first appeared, with many horrified by the stark depictions of mental and physical cruelty.  However, considerable scholars focus on the love between the hero Heathcliff and the heroin Catherine Earnshaw, and how this unresolved passion eventually destroys them and others around them. And the causes of the tragedy have been discussed by the researchers during a long period with many different conclusions. Among these views, three of them represent the main stream. The first one is a conflict between kindness and evil, proposed by the famous English critic Arnold Kettle; the second main view is a conflict between nature and civilization which was raised by the English aristocrat, literary scholar, biographer and academic---David Cecil; the last one can be summarized as an imbalance in Catherine’s heart. While the author thinks these views are reasonable, but there are limitations. These arguments stress the influence of social condition too much. However, there is no obvious social influence in the novel. So the author plans to analyze the causes of the tragedy through the aspect of human nature. On the basis of social influence, the author will try to explore more humanistic elements that give rise to the tragedy.
2. Embodiments of the love tragedy
In order to analyze the causes of the tragedy clearly and accurately, the embodiments of the love tragedy should be generalized and understood very well.
Wuthering Heights describes the readers a dreary love story between a foundling named Heathcliff and the daughter of Wuthering Heights’s host---Mt. Earnshaw. Heathcliff is often described as "dark" or "gypsy". Though it seems that they’re from two totally different worlds, they feel a mild affection for each other. Soon, Catherine becomes Heathcliff's inseparable friend. Her brother Hindley, however, resents Heathcliff, seeing him as an interloper and rival. Mr. Earnshaw dies three years later, and Hindley (who has married a woman named Frances) takes over the estate. He brutalises Heathcliff, forcing him to work as a hired hand. Catherine becomes friends with a neighbour family, the Lintons of Thrushcross Grange, who mellow her initially wild personality. She is especially attached to the refined and mild young Edgar Linton, whom Heathcliff instantly dislikes. When Heathcliff knows that Catherine agrees to marry Edgar, his heart is completely broken. He leaves Wuthering Heights.
Some years later, Heathcliff comes back and begins his revenge. It is a desperate and sad story which is full of despair and hopelessness. All of the tragedies caused at last are blamed for the love tragedy between Heathcliff and Catherine.
They love each other deeply and constantly, while they marry others and live their respective lives eventually. However, life becomes more difficult for them. As for Catherine, it is her who betrays the love and surges the tragedy in order to have a better life as she wants, but the life she expects does not appear. She lives in a contradiction that she realizes who her true love is but she still chooses the other. She thinks she may replace the love with the marriage with Edgar. However, after marriage, she still misses Heathcliff. To some extent, she even does not live a happy life from her deep heart. At last, she dies after giving birth to her daughter. As for Heathcliff, his heart is broken when he knows Catherine will marry Edgar. He lives for Catherine. Catherine is the breath of life to him. So he becomes desperate and gradually goes extreme and stubborn. He starts reprisal which causes tragedies on the people who maltreat him before even including his beloved Catherine and himself. Though he succeeds, he feels no happiness but pain. At the end of the story, he finishes his life to company Catherine’s soul. His revenge also compromises pretty many people who are innocent.
This is all because of the love tragedy between Heathcliff and Catherine. Their love tragedy is the origin of all the tragedies. Two young people who so intimately love each other do not open their sweet life but betray their love. What causes this? The reasons are complicated, for instance, social condition or idea on marriage. But the author argues that the hero and heroine’s character traits are indeed important. Therefore, the author would like to analyze this part as so called internal causes.
3. Internal causes of the tragedy
Throughout the views that are put forward by the researchers home and abroad, social condition is considered as the main cause of the tragedy. However, in the author’s opinion, social condition really plays an important role but not as important as human elements, because in the novel, Emily Bronte does not pay too much attention to social contexts. For instance, the two manors---Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange locate in such an unfrequented place that seem isolated from outside world. The impact of social influence is indeed little. In other words, Emily Bronte is not planning to connect this place with the complicated society. She tries to make these two manors a small but complete world. From another aspect, the readers can see that Emily Bronte describes more contents on the character traits than social background. So the author would like to talk about the internal causes firstly which the author thinks is the most important causes---hero and heroine’s characters.