Desire and Fear as Two Sides of the Same Coin in Wuthering Heights and The Good Soldier

Last Updated: 31 Mar 2023
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Desires and fears seem so different, yet are at the root of each other. If you say, "l want to be loved," it's the same thing as saying "I'm afraid I won't be loved. " Bronte's Wuthering Heights and Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier manage to show how similar desire and fear truly are. Wuthering Heights is saturated with desire and fear and the two play off of one another in a way that makes them so homogeneous. Similarly, The Good Soldier draws on the desires of many of the characters and in turn the fears, which encapsulate them.

Both Bronte and Ford engage with these deas through the use of character, theme, and in a more generic way narration. Desire is linked most commonly with the romance novel, which is what The Good Soldier and Wuthering heights partially allude to. Many scholars classify Wuthering Heights as a gothic novel, even though the story centers around romance and relationships.. Wuthering Heights engages with the concept of desire from its opening pages. Bronte uses Lockwood's desire for sociability or what could be looked upon as companionship, as an early device for a theme that is continued throughout the novel.

The opening lines show Lockwood's opinion of Heathcliff: .. Mr Heathcliff and I are such a suitable pair to divide the desolation between us. A capital fellow! He little imagined how my heart warmed towards him when I beheld his black eyes withdraw so suspiciously under their brows, as I rode up, and when his fingers sheltered themselves, with Jealous resolution, still further in his waistcoat, as I announced my name. (Bronte, 1847,2000:1) The opening lines of the novel show Lockwood relating his first visit to Wuthering Heights, and his initial meeting with Heathcliff. This extract shows the reader how much Lockwood yearns for companionship.

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The phrase suitable pair suggests that he and Heathcliff are quite similar. However we the reader know that this is far from the case. Heathcliffs abrupt and dismissive manner would be enough to deter any individual for want of his company, but this does not seem to perturb Lockwood. Lockwood continues to pay reverence towards Heathcliff coining him as 'a capital fellow. Taken in its context this phrase suggests that Heathcliff is a first rate person. We can see that in this lonely secluded moor Lockwood seems to overlook Heathcliffs abhorrent nature in favour of his comradery.

If we take the less obvious meaning of 'capital' we can see that this word applied to Heathcliff is appropriate in the sense of someone who has the desire to acquire capital and Heathcliff is Just that, someone who wants to have money and land. Desires in The Good Soldier are similarly expressed through relationships. At the beginning of Dowell's narration he states: If for nine years I have possessed a goodly apple that is rotten at the core and discover its rottenness only in nine years and six months less four days, isn't it true to say that for nine years I possessed a goodly apple?

Ford, 191 5,2010:29) This quote encapsulates everything that is tlawed witn Dowell Narrating the story in retrospect Dowell is aware of all events that have passed, even if it is only through what he has been told from Edward and Leonora. The fact that Dowell compares the couple's relationship to an apple gives one the impression that it is something that will not last for very long. The shiny nature of an apple is the couples' fapde that Dowell does not wish to destroy.

Even after learning of Edward's relationship with Florence he still thinks of him as the English gentleman' and has a high opinion of im throughout his narration. Not only is Dowell's desire that of stasis but also of nostalgia. He does not wish to think of the couples' relationship as rotten but only as it was seen from the outside, unblemished and oblivious. It is ironic that Dowell should describe the couples as ' four people with the same tastes, with the same desires' even though they are polar opposites of one another (Ford, 191 5,2010:29) .

Dowell is a passionless individual whereas Florence will go to any lengths to obtain her sexual desires. Edward and Florence share the same desire of adultery and social status. It would seem that both Dowell and Leonora have the same desire to help facilitate their partner's secret affairs, although in Dowell's case he is completely unaware of it. Ford uses Dowell's naivety as a tool for his desire for things to remain as they are. In Wuthering Heights Bronte uses characterisation to build a foundation for a complex array of desires.

According to Phillip Hill "Desire is marked by the use of language and signifiers, and is a 'lack for something that is missing: the object of desire" (Hill, 1997:65). Bronte uses Cathys desire for Heathcliff as one of the main focal points of Nellys narrative. Cathys demand is to return to her childhood relationship with Heathcliff. Out of this comes her desire to be with Heathcliff. She states ' he shall never know how I love him... because he is more myself than I am Once a desire is obtained then it is no longer remains the object of desire; another object will become substituted in its place

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Desire and Fear as Two Sides of the Same Coin in Wuthering Heights and The Good Soldier. (2018, Jun 17). Retrieved from

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