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Wuthering Heights Essay

Comparison and Contrast of the Characters Heathcliff and Lockwood

Heathcliff and Lockwood are the names that portray a lot of contrast in their meanings. The name Lockwood suggests a certain force that is wild or elemental in nature, while Heathcliff is used to suggest suppression that locks the forces of nature.

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Lockwood views Heathcliff as one having the ability to love and hate equally under cover, which enables him to eventually acknowledge his reservations as his attributes (Brontë, 1998). Indeed, he is not able to exercise passion. For example, Lockwood has been attracted to a woman whom he refers to as goddess, but when she shows the intention of loving him back, he shrinks icily into himself (Hafley, 1958). On the contrary, Heathcliff has the capacity to love and hate. When he falls in love with a woman, he does not shrink as Lockwood does. He takes the action of reaching out to his goddess Catherine. In another instance, Lockwood has a very shallow belief in love. He vainly thinks that he can definitely win the heart of Cathy simply because he is attractive.

Heathcliff has a very intensive sense of understanding love. He is caable of attracting a profound love (Hafley, 1958).  This provides a social contrast of Wuthering Heights between the two characters. Lockwood believes that social decorum is important in developing social norms. Heathcliff has, however, developed hatred of a civilized society. Their difference is also brought out with their regard to dogs. Basically, in any civilized society dogs are considered to be playthings. Thus by the fact that Wuthering regards them as savages and beasts, it helps to suggest the characteristics of both Heathcliff and Lockwood (Brontë, 1998). Healthclif also reflects some of the strong passions of love between him and Catherine. Heathcliff hates to live in a society that forbids him to love. On the other hand, Lockwood represents a society that is bound by laws of nature as well as in areas where strong passion of love knows no boundary. The dogs attacking Lockwood imply hatred that is evident in the two societies.

Change in Lockwood’s Impression of Heathcliff by the Time He Leaves Wuthering Heights

By the time Lockwood leaves the Wuthering Heights, his perception of Heathcliff has to some extent changed. At the end, Lockwood is able to understand the differences betweeen the civilized society and the extremes of passion which are embodied by Heathcliff. Although Heathcliff has a strong hatred for living in a society that does not allow him to love, Lockwood still believes that a society should be ordered and bound by a common law which helps to understand and exercise morals to a certain limit (Brooke, 1998). This implies that Lockwood can not go to the extent of expressing extremes of love as it is in case with Heathcliff (Brontë, 1998).

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The differences in understanding between the two characters are revealed when Heathcliff’s dogs attack Lockwood. However, this helps to bring a difference in their perception and understanding of dogs as Heathcliff states that dogs are not kept as pets, while Lockwood believes that dogs are playthings. This also depicts Heathcliff’s hatred for any civilized society hence hatred for Lockwood who considers himself to be a representative of a civilized society (Hafley, 1958). Although there is friction between the two characters, Lockwood does not greatly change his attitude towards Heathcliff as both characters adhere to their values right from the beginning till the end of the story. Nevertheless, difference in perception of each other to some extent alters their understanding of different phenomena.

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