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The Notion of a Double in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights

The Notion of a Double in Wuthering Heights

Brontë’s Wuthering Heights is the captivating tale of two families and the relationships that develop between them. The narrator, Mr. Lockwood, relates the story as told to him by Ellen, the housekeeper. The novel contains an excellent illustration of the doppel-ganger, the notion of a double. Generally, this concept is applied to specific characters, as in Poe’s William Wilson. However, the concept appears in Wuthering Heights in two different ways. The doppel-ganger is illustrated in the story of Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff in relation to that of Cathy Linton and Hareton Earnshaw, but it is also present in the relationship between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff as individuals.
In Wuthering Heights, it is almost as if the story of Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff is repeated through Cathy Linton and Hareton Earnshaw. There are some discernible differences between these two relationships, but the general outline of the stories share some striking similarities. For example, Heathcliff could not be with Catherine Earnshaw because her brother, Hindley, had reduced him to the status of a brute. After Mr. Earnshaw’s death, Heathcliff was treated like a servant instead of a member of the family. Later in the story, Heathcliff does the same thing to Hareton, Hindley’s son, but in a subtle way that prevents any animosity on Hareton’s part. Hindley loses everything that would have been Hareton’s inheritance, leaving Hareton with nothing. Heathcliff takes advantage of the situation and Hindley’s wealth is inevitably turned over to Heathcliff. Heathcliff sees p…

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…his funerary plans with Nelly, he says, “I have nearly attained my heaven,” meaning that his idea of heaven is to be reunited with Catherine in death. Shortly thereafter, Heathcliff dies alone in a chamber.
The story of the Earnshaws and the Lintons follows many twists and turns. By the end, Cathy and Hareton get a chance at the happiness Catherine and Heathcliff never experienced in life. Brontë’s novel is multifaceted and, at times, the reader must struggle to keep up with the story. It can be difficult to perceive the underlying notions going on in the book. Still, there are many details that indicate the doppel-ganger is present not only in the relationship between Catherine and Heathcliff compared to that of Cathy and Hareton, but also in the relationship between Catherine and Heathcliff alone.

A Psychoanalytic Interpretation of Rapunzel

A Psychoanalytic Interpretation of Rapunzel

The familiar story of Rapunzel, as told by the brothers Jacob Ludwig Carl and Wilhelm Carl Grimm, takes on new meaning with a psychoanalytic interpretation. It is a complex tale about desire, achievement, and loss. The trio of husband, wife, and witch function as the ego, id, and superego respectively to govern behavior regarding a beautiful object of desire, especially when a prince discovers this object.

The story begins in a rural house where a man and woman live without children, near a walled garden tended by a frightening witch. The first line of the story tells us that they yearn for a child. It is clear that there exists in this house an almost tangible feeling of desire to produce offspring. The Freudian concept of the libido or the life force explains this desire as a product of the unconscious id(Guerin 129). To show further the prevalence of the id in this house, which in itself is a symbol of the human mind, the wife covets a vegetable, rampion, which she sees in the neighboring garden from her tiny window to the outside. “I shall die unless I can have some of that rampion to eat.”(Grimm 514) The wife comes to represent this selfish element of the mind, and this is her primary function in the story. When she speaks, both times she is only asking for something that she wants. She has no name, as she does not function as a full character.

Her husband must take on the role of mediator to weigh her selfish desires against laws and morals that condemn stealing. This role represents the ego, which regulates the selfish id and the strict moral superego to reach a decision (Guerin 130). He decides that his wife’s urgent need for the rampion outweighs the moral …

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…from the ground. These roots may very well be radishes, or rampion, which is his wife’s namesake.

In the end, the witch’s social control balances out the desire of the prince for a wife. The man and woman, ego and id, living in a small house, the mind, bargain with the witch, the superego, who is outside of the house and represents laws and rules. They produce a child who becomes a commodity, and the rest of the story tells of the struggle between superego and id to settle the ownership of this prize.

Works Cited

Grimm, Jacob Ludwig Carl and Wilhelm Carl. “Rapunzel.” Stories. Ed. Eric S. Rabkin. New York: HarperCollins College Publishers, 1995. 514-517.

Guerin, Wilfred L., Earle Labor, Lee Morgan, Jeanne C. Reesman, and John R. Willingham. A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. 125-156.

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