Adversity. It crafts people for better or worse. It is the single most strongest force of nature; morphing men into boys just as quickly as it moIds boys into men. Emily Brontë uses adversity as a powerful literary device throughout Wuthering Heights, directly effecting the many characters populating the Moors. Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights the characters crumble in the face of adversity because they lack mental fortitude and the will to alter their respective situations.
Throughout Brontë’s novel, the characters come across adversity and crumble due mostly in part their lack of mental firmness. “She could not bear the notion which I had put into her head of Mr. Linton's philosophical resignation,” (Brontë 121). The beginning of the quote “She could not bear the notion,” reveals Catherine’s lack of mental fortitude. She cannot wrap her head around the idea that Edgar is ignoring her. Catherine, pampered for the large part of her life, never faced any real adversity. When met with the smallest bit of adversity, in this case her spouse ignoring her, she cannot find any bit of solace. Her lack of mental resoluteness is glaring and contributes to her eventual death. Cathy fails to get better because she convinces herself that she is deathly ill. It is this lack of mental firmness, in the face of adversity, that makes Catherine perish. Catherine continues on her vicious cycle when she confesses. “Oh, I will die,’ she exclaimed, ‘since no one cares anything about me,” (Brontë 119). The beginning segment of the quote “Oh I will die,” characterizes Catherine’s lack of mental fortitude exquisitely. The assertion in her statement paints a picture of a person who lacks any ability to believe in themselves. The use of the word “will” further drives that point and emphasizes her lack of mental toughness. The final component of the quote “Since no one cares anything about me,” shows how mentally weak Catherine has become. To let something as minor as not being the center of adoration get to a person, divulges the type of person who will let anything destroy them. Catherine’s lack of mental fortitude is alarming yet, justified by her affluent upbringing. However, it is this lack of mental fortitude that causes her to crumble in the face of adversity. The absence of mental fortitude in Wuthering Heights prompts them to fail in the face of adversity.
Over the course of Wuthering Heights the characters deteriorate in the visage of adversity because they lack the will to change their standing. “It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how much I love him.. because he’s more myself than I am,” (Brontë 80). The beginning part of the quote “It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now,” evidences Catherines unwillingness to change her situation. She lacks the will to marry Heathcliff simply because “It would degrade her.” Catherine is too wrapped up in the material world to will herself to change her standing with Heathcliff. Catherine’s lack of will to change her situation leads her down a terrible path punctuated with her failing in the face of adversity. Had Catherine changed her situation with Heathcliff, immense amounts of adversity is relieved. The following part of the quote “So he shall never know how much I love him… because he is more myself than I am,” exhibits how unwilling Catherine is to alter her current state. Her confession of her love for Heathcliff wrapped around the notion that she cannot marry him eventually drives her to insanity. The amount of will to change a situation like this is minimal however, Catherine decides to chose a life full adversity and failure. The exchange between Nelly and Linton describes Linton’s present situation. “Is he severe to you, Master Heathcliff?’ I inquired… Linton looked at me, but did not answer,” (Brontë 253). The first fragment of the quote “Is he severe to you, Master Heathcliff?” describes the gravity of Lintons situation. Through the dialogue, Brontë implies that Heathcliff abuses Linton and beats him into submission; both mental and physical. The choice for Linton is clear: either face a life full of adversity and tribulation or change his situation. The concluding part of the quote “”Linton looked at me, but did not answer,” confirms the reader’s assumptions. Heathcliff’s abuse of Linton, evidenced by his resignation when the topic comes up. Linton’s body language discloses the life of man abused by his father and one unwilling to change his life for the better. Linton’s hesitance to alter his standing leads him to face much more adversity in the future. This adversity peaks at his death. The reluctance to transform his life causes much adversity and sadness in Linton’s life. Wuthering Heights’ tragedy, based heavily in the characters’ opposition to changing their situation, is the cause of much adversity.
Loaded with adversity, Wuthering Heights maintains it’s position as an amazing piece of classical literature. The characters, formed through their success and failures in the face of adversity, bring a sense of grittiness and realism about the novel. The lack of mental fortitude by Catherine leads to her demise. Her obsession with being the center of adoration only plunges her further into a vicious cycle of mental degradation. Catherine’s resistance to altering her relationship with Heathcliff causes her amazing amounts of adversity. Lintons unwillingness to stand up to Heathcliff leads him down a painful and trying path, accentuated by his death. Adversity is a powerful force of nature. It molds beautiful sculptures and horrifying murals out if the people it affects. William Arthur Ward eloquently describes the adversity in Wuthering Heights with Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.