Wuthering Heights Research Paper

Submitted By fvperrien
Words: 1851
Pages: 8

An Analysis of Wuthering Heights Using Freud’s Personalities
Often times the actions of individuals are confusing and unintelligible to those around them. It seems that everyone has secret motives driving their actions, but the method that forces them to act is not seen. Therefore, irrational actions can only be seen throughout overarching psychological premises to determine why the actions occur. Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights contrasts the psychoanalytical premise behind Freud’s personalities of unconsciousness, showing the conflict between id and superego while being balanced by the ego. Freud characterizes the human psyche into tripartite, or a three part structure, known as id, ego and superego (McLeod). Development of the structure is to invoke the psychoanalysis of mental unconscious dynamics and infantile sexuality. His research develops this idea because of the societal inability to grasp the concept of hysteria and its lack of neurological symptoms (Lapsley and Stey 1-2). The theory also develops the pathogenically significant traumatic experiences of childhood and explains that childhood endeavors shaped the subconscious mind for life (Lapsley and Stey 3). Freud hypothesizes that many of the behavioral traits of individuals develop in their unconscious which inadvertently controlled their personalities, hence the personalities of id, ego and superego are born (Lapsley and Stey 4). The theory of the tripartite personalities are important to society because they explain the basic tendencies of mental defense mechanisms. As individuals attempt to escape from the issues they face in society, they push them into the sub or unconscious realm. However, instead of this allowing the issues to cease from existence, it allows them to shape the mental processes of individuals and dictate how they handle emotions (Rana). Freud’s personalities are based on ontological dependence based on the first characteristic which states, “(1) ‘Sets ontologically dependent on their members (Lowe).’” This establishes that each of the personalities are dependent upon each other for existence and must coexist or their survival falls because of a lack of foundation. The id is the primitive and instinctive component of personality that is established on the inherited traits of Eros (life) and Thanatos (death). Id consists of the impulsive, irrational and illogical sectors of thinking which appeal to the Pleasure Principle. This means the id will focus on immediate satisfaction to ensure pleasure, however, if displeased and overreacts to pain making the cognitive process unaffected by the reality of societal norms (McLeod). In Wuthering Heights, the id is characterized by Heathcliff who fits the premise based on three principles: (1) his unknown origins, (2) the dark nature, and (3) his primitive instincts and childlike behavior (“Psychological Interpretation of Wuthering Heights”). Heathcliff is first introduced with nothing known about his ancestries and was greeted by his future family with little affections, “…seeing it starving, and houseless, and as good as dumb in the streets of Liverpool; where he picked it up and inquired for its owner. Not a soul knew to whom it belonged…” (Brontë 44). Heathcliff is seen as a dirty street urchin who is not wanted in the Earnshaw family because they worry he will lower their social status. He is referred to as “it” because the family does not feel the need to characterize him, this is a sign of their distaste. This develops the primitive nature of Heathcliff because though his “family” adopts him, they do not seek to educate or raise him from his gypsy status. The gripping element of the id personality that Heathcliff embodies is the dark nature to ensure his desires are met, specifically his desire to be with Catherine. It is clear from the beginning of the novel how deep Heathcliff’s affections are rooted for Catherine, “…showing how her pretend insolence, which he thought real, had more power…