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The Strive for Apollonian and Daemonic Balance Within Emily Brontл's Wuthering Heights

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Essay title: The Strive for Apollonian and Daemonic Balance Within Emily Brontл's Wuthering Heights

Throughout literature, characters have allowed their head to overrule their heart, while others let their heart shine above their logic. These two mindsets can be described as Apollonian and Daemonic. As described by Paglia, Apollonian characteristics include the need to control nature’s chaos, explain tragedy, keep to the order of things, and stress the importance of status. Daemonic characteristics entail embracing chaotic and unreasonable emotion, such as love and hate. Emily Brontл’s, Wuthering Heights, presents the two internal conflicts with the characters Heathcliff, Edgar, Catherine, Hareton, and Cathy. Emily stages the extremes of each conflict with Heathcliff as the major daemonic character, and Edgar as the apollonian. In the end, one person cannot entail all of one of these conflicts and survive happily; a person needs balance like Hareton and Cathy. The apollonian Edgar and the daemonic Heathcliff create emotional conflict for the torn Catherine in Wuthering Heights, while the second generation corrects the imbalance.

Even as a young gentlemen Edgar personified the apollonian characteristics. For example, when Heathcliff and Catherine appear at Thrushcross Grange, Heathcliff observes, “… in the middle of the table sat a little dog, shaking its paw and yelping, which, from their mutual accusations, we understood they had nearly pulled in two between them. The idiots! That was their pleasure! To quarrel who should hold a heap of warm air” (Brontл, 47). Edgar’s need to have possession over the dog unfolds his apollonian character. This same situation brings up Edgar’s need for class distinction when Catherine and Heathcliff get into trouble; “’Robert was ordered to take me off… he dragged me into the garden, pushes the lantern into my hand, assured me that Mr. Earnshaw should be informed of my behavior, and, bidding me march directly, secured the door again. … Then the woman servant brought a basin of warm water, and washed her feet; and Mr. Linton mixed a tumbler of negus, and Isabella empties a plateful of cakes into her lap.’” (49). Because Catherine looked more apollonian, the Linton’s treated her like a princess while Heathcliff, a dark gypsy-looking daemonic character, prepared to sulkily walk home to Wuthering Heights. Edgar has a strange lack of emotion when he finds out that his sister, Isabella, eloped with his enemy Heathcliff. He replies to the news nonchalantly, “’She went on her own accord, she had a right to go if she pleased. Trouble me no more about her’” (129). Edgar exemplifies the snobby emotionless apollonian character.

Heathcliff resides on the other spectrum of the life Edgar lives. Fueled by love, Heathcliff eventually resorts to revenge after his quest for love goes unfulfilled. Heathcliff, “incapable of feeling pity for his victims or for himself”, uses other people for his revenge (Oates, 1983: 5). Heathcliff’s first son Linton becomes entangled in his revenge on Catherine, so badly that Heathcliff can not even call him by his name and claims Linton as property upon his birth, “’I feared I should have to come down and fetch my property myself. You’ve brought it haven’t you? Let us see what we can make of it’” (199). Heathcliff cannot survive without Catherine’s love, weakening him day by day, and seeking revenge to try and fill the gap he feels. Heathcliff finally exclaims, “’And yet I cannot continue in this condition! I have to remind myself to breathe- almost to remind my heart to beat! … I have a single wish, and my whole being and faculties are yearning to attain it. They have yearned towards it so long, and so unwaveringly, that I’m convinced it will be reached- and soon- because it has devoured my existence… O God! It is a long fight. I wish it were over’” (310). Nelly later recalls, Heathcliff’s happiness came to him when he died and became reunited by Catherine, “’His eyes met mine so keen and fierce, I started; and then he seemed to smile’” (320). Heathcliff lived out the daemonic lifestyle, surviving from one emotion to the next.

Catherine torn between one extreme to the other, could never grasp a good happy medium of the two conflicts. Catherine sees Edgar as the smart choice because she will have money and security but, “Catherine feels that by marrying Edgar she is betraying her soul, the vital principle that she and Heathcliff have in common” (Benvenuto, 1972: 99). Catherine even says herself, “’And he will be rich, and I shall like to be the greatest woman of the neighborhood, and I shall be proud of having such a husband” (76). Catherine feels the conflict and does not know how to cope with the two different worlds. Catherine knows she should marry Heathcliff because of her true love for him, she can feel her soul reaching for him; “’Here! And Here!’ replied Catherine, striking one hand on her

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