In Emily Bronte's, "Wuthering Heights", the influence of childhood, on the major characters, is shown in different ways and can be seen as an extensive theme throughout the novel. The theme of childhood is portrayed throug the relationships of the characters, Heathcliff and Catherine. The childhood of Heathcliff and Catherine follows them in their adult lives that affect their interactions with their behaviors for other people in a bad way. Through Bronte's resemblance of Hareton and the younger Catherine, good human qualities prevail as they overcome their negative past. As Heathcliff and Catherine come towards the end of the novel, they had overcome unfavorable times in their past by trying to improve their personalities.
Throughout the novel "Wuthering Heights", Emily Brontes portrays through Heathcliff, the all too real reality that your childhood relationships can grow into a vindictive adulthood. Heathcliff was brought into the Earnshaw family when Mr. Earnshaw met him in the streets of Liverpool, as an orphaned child. All the other Earnshaw family members dislike him, and due to this Heathcliff is often referred to as "it" and is ostracized by Hindley and Catherine, the Earnshaw children. This shows the horrible start to Healthcliff's youth in their household. From the day Heathcliff joined Earnshaw's family, Hindley and Heathcliff hated each other which continued to their adulthood. "You must exchange horses with me -- I don't like mine; and if you won't, I shall tell your father of the three thrashings you've given me this week, and show him my arm, which is black to the shoulder. This quote shows the hatred between Hindley and Heathcliff but in the end we see that even after beating Heathcliff up, Hindley hands over the horse with a hateful remark, "Take my coltâ€¦and I pray that he may break your neck." In the end Heathcliff achieves what he wanted. This follows Heathcliffs adulthood, and revenge forces Heathcliff into returning to Wuthering Heights as an adult to settle his score with Hindley. He achieves this by adding to Hindley's gambling and eventually taking away his home which resulted Hindley to dying in debt. Therefore, leaving Hindley's son, Hareton in Heathcliff's custody.
The relationship of Heathcliff and Catherine is the only strong and positive relationship in Heathcliff's life. Heathcliff loves Catherine deeply and holds her in the highest degree, "she is so immeasurably superior to them - to everybody on earthâ€¦ (Chapter6 Page 35)" The childhood love of Heathcliff and Catherine followed them toward their adulthood. When Heathcliff overheard Catherine's conversation with Nelly about Catherine's proposal to Edgar, Catherine says, "it would degrade me to marry Heathcliff ", Heathcliff was left heartbroken. Heathcliff returns to Thrushcross Grange as a gentleman, unable to let go of his undying love for Catherine, "I've fought through a bitter life since I last heard your voice, and you must forgive me, for I struggled only for you!" The love Heathcliff had for Catherine during their childhood cannot forget him, eager to see Catherine when he had heard that she was severely sick, he expresses his sincere love, "I have not broken your heart - you have broken it - and in breaking it , you have broken mineâ€¦would you like to live with your soul in the grave?". Catherine's character can be compared to Heathcliff's because she also cannot escape the love that initiated in her childhood, therefore affecting her interactions with other people.
Catherine was raised in a respected family, and she was provided with the finest things in life. This is the reason she grows up to be a spoiled child. An example of this is when she spits on Heathcliff because while visiting Heathcliff, her father lost the whip she had asked for before he left the house. Later on, she starts to fall in love with Heathcliff, and even tried running away with him. During her runaway with Heathcliff, Catherine hurt her ankle and was taken in by the Linton's for five weeks. While she was at the Linton's, she became friends with Edgar and Isabella. Although Catherine still loves Heathcliff dearly, there weren't completely the same as before after her stay at the Linton's. Soon, her friendship with Edgar converts into a serious relationship, marriage. Although Nelly tried to advise Catherine, "he won't always be handsome and young, and may not always be rich," but Catherine responds, "he is now; and I have only to do with the present." She married Edgar even though she didn't love him in the way she loved Heathcliff. Catherine refused to marry Heathcliff because of his harshness, and inability to ever become a gentleman. Although she marries Edgar, she can't overcome her love for Heathcliff; therefore she dies heartbroken as well because of her own selfishness for finer things in life.