Heathcliff as ‘other’

I didn’t want to have to go all Lacanian on your asses, but it recently occurred to me that the attraction to the ‘other’ might be a biological necessity. Has anyone else noticed that the working class seem to be the voices of reason in Wuthering Heights, and that the well-bred, as it were, seem to be pictures of irrationality, pallidity and illness, both physical and mental?

Ellen Dean tells that her mother lived well into her eighties, which in modern-person years is around 150 years old! And at 45, Ellen is in rude health, indulging little Cathy in running races. She claims to have been sick for three weeks in her life. Linton cuts a pathetic, insipid figure. Cathy senior is plagued by what we now might diagnose as encephalitis, with its pursuant brain damage. One has to wonder whether a bit of fresh genetic material introduced into the bloodline (from a gypsy orphan from Liverpool perhaps?) might improve the Linton/Earnshaw lot.

All this rumination, and in consideration of Cathy and Isabella’s intense attraction to Heathcliff, an obvious ‘other’, got me thinking that maybe ‘other’ness serves a kind of Darwinian purpose. I am going to investigate. Here is my first ever-so-slightly facetious lead.

Bronte, Emily. 2009. Wuthering Heights. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


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