October 24, 2012
Civility: Wuthering Heights

This story has many qualities exhibiting the spirit of competition. Since the beginning of Nelly’s depiction of Heathcliff’s childhood, it appears to be evident that a rivalry exists among the characters. Heathcliff, a child who was taken in by the head of the household, and Hindley Earnshaw, the son of the man in charge of the estate, always compete for the affection of the late Mr. Earnshaw. Later in the novel, Heathcliff competes with a neighboring boy, Edgar Linton, for the affection of Catherine Earnshaw. The novel also discusses the passion that Catherine and Heathcliff feel for one another, even though they are not together, and the plot centers upon their tainted love. As the book continues further into the plot line, the civility of Heathcliff diminishes until he has lost all but a shred of his respect for human dignity. Towards the end of the novel, the innovation of Heathcliff’s life comes to a screeching halt. As he wallows in his failures and revenge, he wishes only to die and be with Catherine, who has passed on before him, so that his sins can be resolved in her company. There with his love, his soul will be at rest.

Wuthering Heights is available through Indiana Humanities Novel Conversations lending library. Request a set (for free!) for your book club today.

In September, October and November, Indiana Humanities is exploring the topic of “civility,” as part of its Spirit of Competition theme.

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